Challenge Partner, Brent Bishop remembers his visit to the Tower Street Prison in Kingston, Jamaica
By Brent Bishop
The three sorry looking homeless dogs that lay in the shade of the prison wall did not even look up as we followed the Chaplain in to the largest maximum security prison in the country of Jamaica. As we approached the massive stone wall that ran for a full city block located on a busy street in downtown Kingston, with gun towers on either end, one could not stop his mind from racing and having a little chat with Jesus. We entered through a small door made of four-inch steel with a small peep hole near the top, that was the only way you could walk in or out of the prison and it was just big enough for me to fit through. After entering into a small room, I turned right and entered into a world that I had never seen before, except in the movies. I have been in many jails and prisons in Canada and the United States, but nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience.
Stepping into a world of high tension that was moving way too fast, and you knew by
the look on the young man’s face who held a M16 automatic rifle resting against his
chest; his hand close to the trigger knowing he was locked and loaded, ready to fire
in an instant. On my way out I asked him if he ever had to use his rifle and his reply
was Ye-men. It was a place that screamed danger, but I felt no fear for His Spirit
was with me. Praise the Lord.
We stood in a brick tunnel that was not only used to move people in and out of the prison by foot, but it was also used as an entrance for escort vehicle’s. There were two steel doors on steel rails that could be pulled open, one at a time, allowing the
I had no idea this was where Jesus would send me the day we had the talk about what it was he wanted me to do for
him. But before the day was over I knew why.
It was different than any prison I had ever seen; everywhere you looked there were bars. The cells that housed up to
four men, were three tiers high (approx. 30ft.) with a cement walk ways in front of them, covered with a rusty steel roof
and stairs leading down to the ground level, they were located against the stone wall and ran all the way around the
prison, except for the chapel and a few other needed rooms. When they stepped out of their 6X8 cell that consisted of
three 2X6 pieces of 2” foam, that were lying on the floors, placed on a either side of the cell, and the third across the
back, when a forth cell mate join them, he would have to tie a blanked into a hammock and place it up over the foam
bed at the back of the cell.
What surprised me the most was the friendliness of the officers and the men inside. Although, it was a maximum
security prison, all the cell doors were open. The men walked freely around the prison, some were playing soccer,
others were playing cricket, and many others were just standing around talking or watching the games being played.
They even had a speaker system set up giving the play by play action in the cricket game. In Canada the men in
maximum security prisons are locked in their cells 23.5 hrs a day so this was not what I had expected.
I do not believe there is any greater feeling then when the Lord fills you with a spirit of love and gives you a fire inside. A
Spirit that wants to share God's love with broken people. He accomplished that through my and the team's testimony.
We moved quickly along a path toward the prison Chapel because the stench
of the sewer hit our nostrils. We sure were glad to get inside the chapel. It was
not long after we entered the Chapel that thirty men showed up for the service.
One of the men came to the front and started the praise and worship with no
music to back him up. As he started to sing other men joined in and we knew it
was going to be a Spirit filled service by the way the music touched our soul.
As they sang, I prayed and asked in Jesus' name for the Holy Spirit to give me
what he wanted to say. Judy shared first, then Don. Jonathan shared a little
and then sang a song. When he finished he turned the service over to me.
They all gave touching messages of Christ’s love.
The week before I left for this mission, I asked to be prayed over for a protection and God's anointing while on the trip.
As the congregation was praying over me at Smythe Street Church, I had a vision that showed me many black men with
their arms in the air praying and some had tears running down their cheeks. Servants do see miracles. At the end of the
service a call for salvation was given; eight men came forward and three were in wheel chairs. As we prayed all the men
lifted their arms into the air. They looked up to the heavens and opened their hearts. When we all stopped praying I
looked to my right and saw an older man with grey hair standing there shaking with tears of joy running down his
cheeks. Praise Jesus.
After every service we gave out testimony books. We also made sure that everyone got a copy of the Challenge Newspaper's Prison edition. The Good-News paper supports prison chaplains and ministries like ours by donating to us the prison newspaper. The Challenge is a tool we use to help encourage the men and women we minister to and to build upon what they had just heard about the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ long after we are gone. We would like to thank Challenge Literature Fellowship, out of Lebanon Ohio for their support to our ministry.
Over the week long trip we went to many other prisons within Jamaica, each one
different than the others, but each service was performed in the same order as we
used in all the other prisons. I shared how Jesus had set me free from so much pain,
sin, and addiction. He filled me with a peace and a joy that words could not tell.
Because He first loved me, I wanted to give back and I had hoped that I could help
them find what I had found in my precious Jesus. Little did I know before the week
was over a hundred men and women would be raising their arms toward the
heavens and praying the prayer of salvation! Praise the Lord!!!
No air condition nor heat, only an open bar door between the inmates and the weather, I could not even try to imagine the smell in those cells on the hot summer days. The three tear cell blocks were closed in from the ground to the top with bars. It would have looked like a giant zoo if it had not been for all the socks, underwear, shabby worn out bedding, and the many other pieces of cloth, leather and so forth, that hung from the bars. I noticed one gray wool blanket that had a hole in it big enough to put your head through and the rest of it was worn thin enough to see through, but for someone doing life with no family, I am sure it would have been a treasure.
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