This week, hear from World Race participant Victoria Bacon on her experience ministering in a prison in Albania. Victoria and her team joined the prison staff to the inmate wing to share the love of God, and she left with a deeper understanding of the Father's love for His children. Check it out!

That's right.  We went to prison yesterday.

Since we arrived in Albania, I've eagerly looked forward to the opportunity for Albanian prison ministry, thinking I'd have the chance to listen to the women inmates' stories and share the love of Jesus with them through my own testimony.

Excited for prison ministry, four of us girls piled into the car yesterday—only to find out along the drive that we weren't, in fact, going to a women's prison, but actually to a men's prison. Not only a men's prison—but a psychiatric men's prison, known to be one of the worst prisons in all of Albania. 

Up one hearing this, we looked around the car at each other with wide eyes. Little did we know of God's plans for this divine day.

When we arrived, we met the prison director, the assistant director, the head secretary, and a social worker.  We had a nice conversation with them over cups of instant coffee in their office, overlooking the beautiful Albanian mountains.

As we were escorted into the inmate wing, we walked down a corridor and into a room that resembled a chapel. We sat down, and shortly after, inmates filed into the small room.  Around 25-30 inmates joined us.  

As they entered, our prison pastor, Kristian, talked to these inmates, shook their hands, kissed them, and even gave some of them hugs.  He looked at each man with deep love; it was clear his friendships with these men had long been established.

Then it hit me: He was treating these societal outcasts just like Jesus would. 

As these men took their seats, some of them introduced themselves to us. I commended these men on their English-speaking, and began talking with them. As we got to speak with them and hear Kristian give a sermon (in Albanian), I just felt love - God's love - for these men. 

It was like Jesus gave me his eyes for every man in the room.  I was so moved at the Lord's deep love for every single one of these individuals. 

We had the opportunity to hear one man's testimony: He told us that before knowing Jesus, he had maybe experienced 30 minutes of joy total—in his entire life.  When he went to prison, he realized that Paul (from the Bible) was also in prison for a long time, so he decided to read the Bible.  (Strange, right?) Through reading the Bible, his life was forever changed; he met the Lord, and he now lives in prison, fulfilled and with joy every day.

After this, we walked through the prison to a small room where we had the opportunity to play UNO with two of the inmates.  It was so fun! They learned really fast and we laughed a lot as we played in friendly competition.  It was my favorite game of UNO ever, not because I love UNO, but because God was moving. 

As we high-fived them goodbye, I wanted nothing more than to hug them and cry.

I pray these men felt the love of Jesus through our treating them like humans.  I hope we loved them like Jesus would have loved them, had he been playing UNO with us. I was not afraid; in fact, the entire time in the prison, I felt an overwhelming peace from the Lord.  I felt his deep love for these men he created. I felt compassion for them and joy to know them.

Thank you, Jesus, for this pleasant surprise, but more so, for the moving of our hearts to reflect Yours.  Thank you for leaving the ninety-nine to find the one (Luke 15:1-7), no matter who they are to society.  I will never forget these kind men or the love I know you feel for them. 

Do you want to share the love of God to those whom society has deemed outcasts? Do you want to experience new revelations of the Father's love?

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