Visiting Inmates in Spain
By Gabriel Diaz
Working with inmates is my passion. I have participated in prison ministry everywhere that I have served as a pastor, first in my homeland of Colombia and now in Spain.
Over the past two decades, I have visited four prisons in Spain, including a maximum-security prison for women in the Spanish capital, Madrid. It took three years of talks with prison officials to gain access to this prison of 400 women. Prison authorities finally allowed me to enter the prison for the first time in 2019 and begin leading a worship service from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Thursday. Only one woman showed up for the first worship service. But she was very eager and willing to listen to me.
“I’m very happy to meet you,” I told the woman. “It fills me with joy to come here. But we need to pray to meet with even more people.”
We prayed to God to bring more people to our Thursday meetings. When I arrived at the fourth meeting, 10 women were waiting for me! Today, 60 women attend the meetings every week. They range in age from 22 to about 70. Our worship program is divided into three parts: songs and prayer; a time for women to share their personal testimonies, called, “Name Your Miracle”; and Bible study.
When I speak to them, I always remind them that God is their Father in heaven. “God sees you as His daughters,” I say.
In all my years of serving as a pastor, I have never witnessed worship and praise like in the prison. The worship and praise are intense. The women are so sincere and honest in their prayers. Sometimes I long for our Thursday meetings even more than Sabbath meetings at church.
Our time together is short, so each woman can write her personal testimony on a piece of paper, bring it to the meeting, and hand it to me at the end. The letters contain words of praise about how God is changing lives. I have a high stack of letters now.
A group of church members also visit with the women and give them Bible studies on weekends. They can only visit with the women behind glass. They are not allowed inside as I am. But together we are seeing fruit. Several women have given their lives to Jesus, and we also have established contact with their relatives.
Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission. Find more mission stories at adventistmission[dot]org