Loving from the outside looking in

Written by Jon and Carly Brown

The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to effect all of us in unique ways. We are now 79 days into a strict quarantine in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. This means that we have been unable to visit our many friends and partners in ministry inside Palmasola. The restrictions are very difficult to follow as we cannot legally use our car or even leave our house for more than a few hours each week. However, we have been trying to make the most of the time that we have to have an impact with the friends we have in the prison.

The Lord has been encouraging us that this is a season where He is causing the seeds to grow up and even to begin bearing fruit. We have been sharing Jesus' love and discipling the people that God has led us to for the last two and a half years and we are starting to see some fruit come during this season when we are not allowed to visit and continue our part of that ministry inside the prison.

In the last year I (Jon) have started visiting another section of the prison called PC3A. Approximately 500 men live in a one acre area. About 50 of those men have a room to sleep in with a mattress and the rest sleep on the ground outside or on the concrete floor in common rooms. The conditions are very overcrowded and not sanitary. I met a truly inspiring young colombian friend named Jhonatan. He has become our "man of peace" and partner in ministry in this very dark place. He lives with about 30 men who live and sleep in a very small church and they mostly keep to themselves as most people are very careful to limit their interactions with the many people who come and go from this transitory part of the prison.

In these months I have started sending food, blankets, and medicine to try and encourage our friends and give them a way to share God's love with others inside. It is almost always a foreign concept for Christians in the prison to think about ministering to other prisoners, but Jhonatan is very receptive to learn and live more like Jesus. Here is a testimony from him after I recently was able to finally get some blankets in as it has turned cold and many of the inmates have no way to stay warm:

Mira que aqui en la entrada al bloque el policía no quería dejar entrar las colchas y ¨no, no, y no.'' Le hablé de Dios y dijo no creer en ''esas cosas.'' Le cuento que fue un gran gozo haber podido ver la alegría de las personas recibir con gozo las colchas y los chulos. Estaban muy felices y oré, y verdad el Señor me guió de una manera muy especial a una persona. Solo una necesitaba oír Su palabra. Fue una experiencia única y maravillosa ser instrumento. Muchas gracias a Dios.

Hey, here in the entrance to the cell block the cop didn't want to let the blankets in and "no, no, and no." I talked to him about God and he said he doesn't believe in "that stuff." I'm telling you it was a great joy having been able to see the happiness of the people who received the blankets and hats with such joy. They were so happy and I prayed, and really, the Lord led me in such a special way to one person. Only one needed to hear God's word. It was a really special and marvelous experience to be an instrument of God. Thanks so much to God.

These are our favorite testimonies, because we are getting to see our young friends who are newer in the faith starting to love like Jesus. They are reaching people that we never could and they are getting to grow the Body of Christ. Praise be to God.