“Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” Hebrews 13:3
Back in December the son of one of the ladies that comes to our church was arrested. The details are still a little unclear as to what exactly happened, but apparently he became violent with an officer when he was given a ticket. She invited me to go along and visit him in the penitentiary. I was nervous at first, not sure what to expect, but was anxious to go because I also knew two other men from Las Delicias that had been arrested. One for breaking and entering, the other for illegally transporting arms.
We arrived early one Saturday morning to find two long lines of visitors waiting to get in at the front gate. Most of them were women wanting to see their sons or boyfriends. We waited about an hour and a half before a group of soldiers arrived to begin searching each visitor as they entered. After passing inspection we walked another fifty yards or so to the next entrance. There we had to pass another inspection and receive our visitors’ numbers. They marked our arms with a number and a stamp and also gave us a metal plaque to carry that had our number on it. Upon entering the complex where the inmates were kept, we had to pass another checkpoint where they made sure our metal plaques coincided with the numbers on our arms. The section we entered was the minimum security area. The inmates are allowed to roam free within this area from about 7 am until 4 pm. Some are still waiting for their hearings and sentences. These criminals range from murderers, thieves, and rapists to drug traffickers and extortionists. There are about four modulars which are two level complexes with dorm halls where the prisoners sleep. Each modular has a “boss.” He can make different demands that the prisoners have to fulfill. The prison is full of corruption. Many times the “boss” demands money from the inmates of his modular and if they don’t pay up, they are forced to do menial tasks and lose privileges. Privileges are also bought. Each room has three tier bunks. The very top is of no charge, but if you want a lower bunk with more privacy you have to pay “the boss.” Family members often bring in food items for inmates to sell among themselves in order to make money to pay off “the boss.” Some even work within the prison making hammocks, souvenirs, belts, and shoes.
On my last visit, I met an inmate who is a Christian and has started cell groups there in the penitentiary. He also ministers in one of the chapels. He invited me to come and teach and preach on a regular basis in the penitentiary and help with the ministry there. We are praying about this opportunity and ask you to join us in praying about what God would have us to do. There are so many needs. We also ask that you would pray for Rafael and Noel as they finish out their sentences.