Prison– I have always had this idea of it being brutal, dark, and dangerous. A place filled with lost men and women who had a lot of hatred towards the world.
Our visit to Gilli Gilli in Alotau, Papua New Guinea gave me a new perspective. When we arrived at the prison, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. There were 264 Papua New Guinean prisoners were singing songs to God in the prison courtyard. When we walked into the courtyard the men hardly even noticed us walking in – they were so focused on God. Their worship was beautiful and so genuine. We spent our time praying for the prisoners and singing with them, but in this story I really want to focus on the prisoners and how they inspired me.
First of all they were so joyful. As soon as we walked in the atmosphere of joy was so tangible. They had giant smiles the whole time. You could tell they were excited and thankful we had taken the time to visit them, but in reality we were the ones who were blessed to meet such inspirational people. Each one of them listened to what we were saying and were very open to us. Even though these men and women were stuck in cells and removed from normality they were filled with hope for the future.
Another thing that really stuck out to me was how much they fixed their eyes on getting out of prison and their desire to make a difference. They wanted to help others and to share God‘s word to those who don’t know him. One of the men told us that when he gets out he wants to work against injustice towards the Papua New Guinean people and their resources. The prisoners also have so much faith, they knew God and they trusted that he has forgiven them and that he doesn’t judge them for their past and their mistakes.
This prison was so special. After spending a few hours with these prisoners the fact that many of them had changed during their time, didn’t surprise me. The men and women in Alotau prison impacted my life, their willingness and openness to change is powerful. If men and women who are stuck in prison can have the desires to change things for the better and to impact the lives of others, why can’t we?
– Written by Hannah Urquhart, 18, Scotland