Grace pops up in the oddest of circumstances. As COVID-19 marches its way around the earth, what remains for many are pain, grief, and loss intertwined with patience and endurance. What also came in Malawi were early releases for prisoners and second chances.
Overcrowded prisons are breeding grounds for the pandemic to spread. Incredibly, more than 3,000 prisoners were released in efforts to slow the virus. Many had served nearly all of their term or exhibited good behavior. But ex-convicts rarely find an easy path back on the outside. They are not welcomed home with open arms; instead, they are chased away to search for shelter and sustenance.
Can that begin to change when kindness is given to these offenders as they are released? Kindness from strangers in a practical gift of clothes and a pair of used shoes. This single act of kindness gives prestige in a region where many people walk bare-footed most of their lives. It really is more than just a pair of shoes. It is hope and a new beginning from Christians who believe in hope. Leaving prison, convicts are invited to lace up shoes and listen to God’s Word from the Proclaimer as an invocation for their next chapter.
Prisoners in Kenya’s penal system were not granted early release during the pandemic, but many were handed simple white boxes containing glorious black Proclaimers—the opportunity and encouragement to hear God’s Word and to study, memorize, and live it out. Scripture engagement is bringing noticeable change within the confines of these places that more often than not overflow with despair and disillusionment.
Such outreaches of our local partners strive to make God’s love and care visible in practical ways to pockets of the population who are often overlooked. When you give to Vision 2033, you join endeavors like these in Kenya, Malawi, and countless places around the world.