I’ve been honoured to be part of a great group of people that want to make a difference in this world. The name of this group is called the Destiny Trust and part of their plans for 2016 was to have what we tagged an unlikely Christmas for children behind bars. When I say children behind bars, I’m not referring to juvenile offenders but to children that are either too young to be separated from their mother or were given birth to by mothers serving time in prison as at the time of their birth. As such, when Sage heard of such a project, nothing was going to stop him from spending time with these young ones. Ps. 127: 3 – 6 paints a picture of how God sees children.
3. Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him
On the D-day, 11th of December 2016 I found myself at Kiri-Kiri. For those that haven’t been there, let me paint a picture. Kiri-Kiri is a town located in Apapa, Lagos and within that town lays the famous Kiri-Kiri prison. The prison has different blocks for male, female and maximum prisoners; each of these prisons feature high fences and imposing gates that are properly guarded. It is not the kind of place one can break out from; forget prison break and the escapades of Scofield, T.Bag and co. With a lot of anxiety, I drove into the Kiri-Kiri compound and the first thing I did was to get into trouble with a guard for making a U-turn at the gates of the maximum prison. A huge dose of humility, an explanation that it was an innocent mistake and apologies was what rescued me. Eventually I arrived at the gates of the female prison and right there on the fence I was greeted with the following words:
A home away from home.
Don’t be frightened.
Just walk into an atmosphere of love, joy, peace, kindness, patience, goodness, faithfulness, self-control and abundance of God’s grace upon your life.
This was the strangest place to find such words written at the gates. These words belonged at the gates of a church or at the gates of a rehab centre, so I thought. If you read carefully, you will recognize the fruits of the spirit listed out in Gal. 5:22-23:
22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23. gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Eventually, we got in, observed all the necessary security checks, dropped the gifts with warden for distribution later and were taken straight to the church where the Sunday service was on-going. When we got in, the sermon was about how we should accept whatever situation we’re facing and accept God’s will. Not such an easy thing to do when you’re in a prison cell. Despite the situation, these women sang praises to God of His greatness and how God is the biggest. Service ended, we were introduced and the women were asked to bring their children to join them in the chapel. Just as inscribed on the fence of the prison, there was joy as these women praised God, danced to His greatness and partook in singing the Christmas song ‘Joy to the world’ (even though we all forgot the lines at different points in time; who forgets the lyrics to Joy to the World?). There was so much joy that one of the ladies, to the loud cheers of the others, boldly said to us:
"Don’t see us as prisoners but as students."
There was also an interesting remix to Joy to the world sang by one of the women; such a lovely voice and so many talented women. One of the women played the drums while the other played the talking drum. The little babies weren’t left out of the fun as we took turns carrying them and playing with each of them. For some reason they kept rejecting the sun-shades of one of the volunteers.
Joy is the essence of Christmas. Joy that our Saviour, Jesus Christ was born. Joy that we get to celebrate God’s love for us (Rom. 5: 7 – 8). Love so great that He sent His only begotten son down to earth to be born in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes. As we left, I watched as a mother left the chapel with tears in her eyes while another had tears in her voice as she prayed for us and felt saddened that these children would spend their first Christmas in prison with their mothers. It was a blessing to be able to spread joy and the amount of thanks and the heartfelt prayers from the ladies were the best gift I could ever receive. It was indeed an unlikely Christmas! As we celebrate Christmas in our different locations, let us spread joy, love and speak life into the lives of the people around us, friends and strangers alike. Please remember these children and their mothers in your prayers.
Find out more about the Destiny Trust on:
Merry Christmas from Sage