We sing a song at our church called "Break Every Chain." In Spanish, it is "Cadenas Romper." There's power in the name of Jesus to break every chain. There's an army rising up to break every chain.
This song was our anthem as we went to the prison in Corinto. The prison in Nicaragua is very different than what you see in the United States or what you may have seen in a movie.
If someone is sentenced to 3 years in jail here, he stays in that small cell for 3 years THE ENTIRE TIME. There is no "free time" in the "yard" for weight lifting or hanging out in the mess hall playing cards. There's a cell with a toilet and he is stuffed in there with other prisoners for the duration of his sentence. Also, unless a visitor brings him food, he doesn't eat. If he hasn't eaten in a while, he will barter with what he has in order to fill his stomach - even if he has nothing but himself. I want to keep this post PG, so I'll let you fill in the blanks.
In the prison we visited, there were 9 prisoners - 8 men stuffed in a 4 person cell and one woman in a cell by herself. Our host told us that at various times there may be up to 30 or 40 men in that jail (with only 2 cells) and they wouldn't separate the women until they were able to send them to the larger jail in Chenandega, which is about 40 minutes away. The jail there has a comfortable capacity of 300 and has been stuffed with thousands of convicts.
We didn't know what to expect when we went in, just that we brought food and the bread of life.
After a brief conversation with the new warden, Pastor Luis found out that only 3 of us would be allowed to go in with our translator, Jessica. John, Lindsey and I would go in to present the gospel to them and later, the rest of the team could serve them food. We were given explicit instructions to stay to the left away from the prison bars out of their reach and to not touch the brown stucco wall behind us - because the brown color isn't stucco. I'll give you TWO guesses what it is if you don't know what I mean.
We walked in and saw the inmates staring us down. One young man sported a "wife-beater" tank top and gym shorts. He was in his early twenties and had multiple gang tattoos and a hard stance with his arms crossed. He was "mean-mugging" us the whole time. 😡
The other inmates were actually very welcoming and more than happy to have any sort of visitor, especially with the promise of food during our visit.
We began talking to them and John shared about the love of God as he told them how valuable they are in His sight - that they are worth more than many sparrows according to Luke 12. I followed John and told them that an object is worth how much someone is willing to pay for it. When I shared that God gave His ultimate possession to pay the highest price for their redemption from sin, one prisoner shouted "Amen!" I gave them the opportunity to accept Jesus as their Savior and all 9 of them prayed with Lindsey to make Jesus their Lord - even the guy with the mean mug and the tattoos. By the time we walked out, he told us "Gracias" with a slight grin on his face.
We asked if they needed prayer for anything specific, such as pain in their bodies, and one of the guys asked for prayer for his son, Noel, who has schizophrenia. Another inmate declared that he was supposed to be released that very day but the guards told him that they were having difficulties processing his paperwork, which we later found out could take a really long time. We prayed for Noel and for our new brother in Christ that his paperwork would be expedited so that he would be released quickly. (Update: the next day, we were riding through town and we saw that same man riding a bike and I called out to him, "Libertad" which means "Freedom." He had been released that soon just as we had prayed.)
Captives were set free. Even in their physical "chains," they were set free spiritually.
Luke 4:18-19 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."
Will you preach the gospel and proclaim liberty to the captives today? There are men and women all around you who have shackles on their souls and you have the key to set them free. As a member of the Lord's army, rise up and break the chains of those whom satan has imprisoned.