Bench fails the wretched of the earth (plus 666 note)

June 6, 2006 at 1:31 am 6 comments

prison.jpgOne evening in 1999, I found myself behind bars at both the Nyayo and Lang'ata police stations (for some 48 hours).

My crime was to have been found by the police walking home – at the time not very far away from Nairobi West – at 6:30 p.m without my identity card.

I had on me some paperwork from the office to indicate that I was no alien, but the cops would hear none of it; they wanted the little cash I had on me at the time (some Kshs. 500).

I refused to pay up, unlike some of the folks I was arrested with, and that's how I found myself at Nyayo and later in the night, Lang'ata.

They claimed I was a foreigner from the Great Lakes region….:-) despite my excellent English, Swahili and a host of other Kenyan languages…thank God I bore no resemblance to one Felicien Kabuga 🙂

No humiliation I went through that evening, including sharing a mixed cell with some men and women in Lang'ata, will ever surpass the utter spiritual desolation and emptiness I witnessed in the lives of the arrested people.

It was at that point that I, as a Christian, got to appreciate the depth and significance of the prison ministry run by one of the outreach teams at the Church I still attend in Nairobi.

When I was freed at 6:00 p.m the following day (just in time for an official trip I had been scheduled to make out of town the same evenning), I determined to read up a little more on Chuck Colson, one of the few evangelicals I respect in contemporary America.

A few documentaries and books down the road, I found myself already in love with the Prison Fellowship he and others still run to date; I began tracking their work a little more closely with a desire to learn more from their experiences in prison ministry.

So it was from that general background that I received a rather sad e-mail from them today, details of which have been helpfully reproduced on their website for public consumption.

That decision in Iowa sits badly with me here, knowing as I do how meaningful the kind of work the court is literally banning is to prisoners.

All because one Barry Lynn and the organization he heads believe the work the likes of Colson are doing is unconstitutional.

America needs the allegedly unconstitutional act by the likes of Colson much more than anything else in its prisons at the moment, – my short time in the country as a journalism student taught me as much.

I hope to God Kenya never has to decide whether or not it needs Him in its prisons because the moment it does that, the road between it and a living hell in society shall become very short indeed.

*****

I loved these few lines in an e-mail I received from a correspondent ahead of this date, 6/6/06: "As those who worship evil celebrate the number of the beast on 6/6/06 it is an opportunity for Christians to refuse fear and embrace the power we have in Christ to bear witness of His love and authority….Jesus has given us power over the authority of the enemy, and there is no day more worthy of celebration than that day over 2,000 years ago when Jesus defeated sin and death."

Well put, I would say, even as events around the world continue to shape up in ways that each day make the Bible more believeable than its detractors would want it to be.

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Entry filed under: Culture, Kenya, Media, Missions, Personals, Politics, Religion, Society, World.

My take on the “Dutch Sheets” The guv’nors….

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. acolyte  |  June 6, 2006 at 2:17 am

    I once went to Langata Police station to get an abstract.I went to one of the upper floors where I could see the prisoners basking in the sun in another part of the police station.Looking at some of them it was plain that they had lost the will to live.It seems that they knew that they would be back there as soon as they were let out.Much as it is overlooked due to its’ lack of glamour, the prison ministry is a very important one and taking it out of prisons will simply lead to recidivism rates sky rocketing as prisoners who are live according to the faith are less likely to come back to prison.I think this is liberty and pc taken too far!

    Reply
  • 2. uaridi  |  June 6, 2006 at 3:38 am

    Hey, I will be awake kesho (or rather today) because of the significance of the day.

    Stay awake.

    Reply
  • 3. John Powers  |  June 6, 2006 at 4:26 am

    Ah, well here’s something we disagree on. You view Charles Colson favorably, and I view him unfavorably; likewise you view Barry Lynn unfavorably and I view him favorably.

    Colson served time in prison on felony convictions for crimes which did real harm to individuals and subverted our government. He once bragged he’d “run over his grandmother to get Nixon re-elected.” He ordered break ins and conspired to harm people on an “enemies list” he created. The plans were diabolical and cruel. Even by the degenerate standards of an administration bent on law-breaking some of his violent schemes were rejected. He has never been truly candid about his misdeeds.

    He has never left politics, nor the sort of politics of destruction that he went to jail for. The prison fellowship he founded was funded by ultra-right wing foundations. Government tax money has poured into his prison fellowship by the millions. And he has a number of dummy organizations which are chartered as non-profits but serve to funnel political money into campaigns so that wealthy individuals and corporations seeking political favors can make political contributions in excess of legal limits. Colson has never stopped being a political hatchet man for the political right. His lack of candor and remorse for his crimes suggest to he’s not repented simply got a public relations make-over.

    Barry Lynn is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He is also a lawyer like Charles Colson–unlike Colson he is a member of the bar in good standing. It’s surely fair to call Lynn a political liberal. Theologically liberal may be a little misleading.

    Religious liberty is both a political and religious construct. While Lynn is outspoken politically, it’s good to note that Lynn champions freedom FOR religion and is most certainly not against religion. The United Church of Christ was formed in 1957 by the merger of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches. Barry Lynn is an Evangelical Christian.

    Barry Lynn has never been convicted of any serious crime. He is sincere and an authority on Constitutional law. You may disagree with him politically, but he’s a serious person with well-considered ideas. I suspect on close examination you’d find more in common with him than you think.

    Reply
  • 4. Mama Mia  |  June 6, 2006 at 10:24 pm

    I almost got stuck in a lift today, and began to wonder if the day was jinxed after all!!! But as you say, there’s always consolation in the fact that Christ is always more powerful, no matter what. So every day, whether it’s significant to evil forces that be or not, is cause for celebration.

    Reply
  • 5. Kenyan Analyst  |  June 10, 2006 at 10:34 am

    @ Acolyte – Prison ministry is indeed among those that lack the glamour that many of us yearn for! Yet it is here that many lives may be touched through us and Christ’s working powers; and our own also transformed as engage the Lord on the road to Emmaus!

    @ Uaridi – Agreed.

    @ John – Ha! Ha! Ha! I’ll tell you this: No one is perfect and no one is beyond redemption.

    @ Mama Mia – Pole sana! Jitie moyo katika uwezo wa Bwana Yesu!

    Reply
  • 6. Kenyan Analyst » “My mboys wa on mpantrol…”  |  August 15, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    […] I rarely have kind words for the Kenya police (owing to some nasty incident I had with them sometime back), but I must give it to them tonight for winning my heart twice in just under a week. […]

    Reply

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