Finding God in prison
A prison may seem like an impossible place for ministry. But Farid Lahoud, a man who has given his life to prison ministry and is supported by BMS World Mission, has seen God show up in this dark place time and time again
Amir* was serving a life sentence for murder. He was in a hopeless place and had no faith. Originally from Iraq, he was imprisoned in Lebanon. To his surprise, hope came to him in his darkest hour. It came to him through a prison ministry and his life was transformed beyond what he could ever have imagined.
In prison and desperately searching for some sense of hope, Amir became curious about the prison ministry happening in his prison and he began attending church services. During his free time he began to read the Bible.
One evening Amir was alone in his cell and as he flicked through the Bible, one particular verse caught his attention. It read, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14: 6). As he was still wrestling with the idea of faith, he threw his hands in the air and asked God how he could really know if it was true.
In that moment, God showed up in Amir’s cell. Suddenly, there was a blinding light in the room, so bright he had to close his eyes. And when he opened his eyes there were tears streaming down his face. Amir knew he had an answer.
He became a believer and suddenly his grim future had a glimmer of hope. He was motivated to reopen his case and share his testimony with a judge. The judge was so moved by the story that another miracle happened for Amir. The judge reduced his life sentence to five years of imprisonment.
A changed man, Amir was inspired to share his faith with others after his release from prison. He went home and brought his entire family to Christ.
Amir’s story is just one of many, many stories of lives that have been transformed through the prison ministry Farid has given his life to for the last 30 years. Farid, a BMS supported partner worker, knows that sharing the gospel with prisoners from diverse religious backgrounds is a challenge, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. “This kind of life is like honey to my soul because I know I am where God wants me to be,” says Farid.
At the core of Prison Ministry, Lebanon, is the goal to share the Christian message of love with prisoners across the country. The team do this by both helping prisoners with practical needs and sharing God’s message.
Practical needs are addressed in the prisons by providing prisoners with legal support, literacy and computer training, and family programmes. The legal support has proven to be an important part of the prison ministry. The team work closely with the judicial system as they help prisoners pay charges they cannot afford and work to reduce sentences – they have even been able to remove some prisoners from death row.
“Initially, people come to us for help with their practical needs,” says Farid. “Then they decide they also want to hear the Word of God.”
Prison Ministry, Lebanon, holds regular church services and events inviting all prisoners to hear God’s message, no matter what religious background they have. Farid says each church event held brings in over 100 prisoners and many ask for Christian literature and Bibles after services.
The prison ministry builds relationships based on love and respect and is always careful to create an atmosphere of acceptance and trust; in turn, it has brought many prisoners to faith. It’s a tough job, but Testimonies like Amir’s keep Farid going. They remind him that God shows up, even in the darkest of places.
You can help transform lives too. You can support projects like this prison ministry by giving to BMS today.
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission.