Several years ago, we became intentional in targeting the darkest places in our city of Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso. One of those places is the local prison. We began weekly Bible studies with the women, and monthly days of prayer and fasting for the prisoners.
One woman prisoner, a follower of another religion, was determined to disrupt our Bible studies. She would talk loudly, bang pots, and pace around us with exaggerated steps. One day she took her animosity to a new level by threatening a member of our team. “When I get out of here, I am going to find out where you live. I’ll be coming to get you.” But the woman on our team, took the threat in stride and said, “All followers of Jesus are welcome at my house.” And then she jokingly gave the woman the nickname, “disciple of Jesus”. Each week she would go looking for this woman and joke with her and get her to smile.
Last week this “disciple of Jesus”, sat and listened to the Bible story for the first time. Afterwards, she said how she was so disturbed every time we came into the yard. “I am happy to see you and yet so troubled.” Our team surrounded this woman and began to pray. One member of the team had a vision that this woman would be released in a short while and that she would recognize Jesus as Lord.
This week, as we were finishing the Bible lesson, “disciple of Jesus” came rushing into the yard saying that she had just been released from prison. She said, “I know that this is because you have prayed for me. Please pray now that my family will accept me back and that I can have a new life.”
As she clung to the members of our team, with tears running down her face, I realized how important it was that we responded in love to the hatred this woman had first shown to us. Loving well is the best way to shine light into darkness.