Society may intend prison to be a place of retribution and correction but much more than that, God has used it as a place of refinement and transformation.
Among Uganda’s 59,280 inmates, trauma and aggression are widespread. So is illiteracy. But powerful revival is happening, thanks to audio Bibles on devices called Proclaimers, through which God’s word is penetrating prison cells to transform lives.
The Bible Society recently issued a statement saying formerly disinterested in God, prisoners in detention facilities in the country are now reconciled with their heavenly Father through the talking Bible which speaks directly to them in their local language.
“Formerly rebellious, prisoners are reunited with their families. Formerly violent, prisoners are called to share the peace of Christ with their communities,” the statement read.
Bible Society spoke to one inmate (name withheld by the organisation to protect identity) in Luzira Maximum Security Prison. From childhood, the inmate rebelled against her parents. She left home and married when she was only 17 years old. For much of her life, she said, she was a “hot-tempered, quarrelsome, fighting woman.”
One day, her husband returned home drunk. Because she had not prepared food for him to eat, they began to fight. She overpowered him and hit his head with a hoe handle. Although she ran away, she soon heard that he died on the way to the hospital. She was arrested three weeks later and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
While in prison, she discovered that many inmates listened to audio Bibles. Uninterested, she focused instead on mourning her “lost life.” But the prison’s cells were small, and she found herself listening to her cellmate’s Audio Bible in her Lugbara language.
“One Saturday evening, I heard the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15,” she remembered. “I cried bitterly and thought, ‘I am the prodigal son.’”
Now, she is reconciled with her parents. Instead of fighting, she mentors her younger siblings and encourages them to pursue peace at home.
“I feel a big conviction to teach my siblings to obey and love our parents, so that they don’t end up like me,” she explained.
Transformed by Christ’s words, she hopes to share God’s peace with many beyond her own household. “My prayer is that God will help me to preach like John the Baptist, who baptized many people,” she told Bible Society.
A recent report by the World Prison brief revealed that Uganda has second-most overcrowded jails in Africa.
Chapter Four Uganda, an NGO that advocates for human rights, added that most of the prisoners are pre-trial detainees, and that they are “held in blatant violation of the right to liberty & fair trials.”