The Power of Meeting With One

Beth Guy is a Global Mission Intern serving with the Protest Reformed Church of Guadeloupe and Martinique.  Her placement is supported by Week of Compassion.

Before Christmas I was visiting the jail in Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, for my weekly Bible study. Even though I wasn’t feeling my best, I was still riding the high from class the week before.  Going through Advent themes, we had talked about peace and even practiced a moment of meditation and made origami cranes. It had been a wonderful week and I was looking forward to another great week with the group.

When I arrived, I gave the guards my list of names and set up in one of the classrooms they have in the jail. I moved the desks to the side and arranged the chairs into a circle. I sat down and looked over my plans and read from my Bible as I waited for the prisoners to arrive. Ten minutes or so passed before the first prisoner, D, entered.

We chatted lightly while we waited for the others to arrive. We discussed the weather, if he had heard from his family lately, and if the prison would do anything special for Christmas. Then the conversation shifted as he asked, “When you first started coming here, were you afraid?”

This sparked a much deeper conversation. A conversation about fear, regret, family, and friendship. He shared some of his story and about what he was most looking forward to when he thought about going back home.  Eventually he shared that besides this weekly group, his life is the same day-in and day-out. It gets monotonous and lonely, especially with his family living in Saint-Martin (as is the situation with most of the prisoners I work with). He shared how thankful he is for the weekly opportunity to spend some time in God’s presence and do something a bit different.

After a while, we realized about 45 minutes had passed and so no one else was likely to come. (I later found out that there had been a basketball tournament scheduled at the same time that the majority of my other regulars were attending.) As D and I chatted a bit longer, I briefly shared the gist of what I was planning on discussing in class that day and then we prayed together before getting up to part ways.

It wasn’t the class I was planning to have and in some ways it seemed silly that I drove 2.5 hours round trip just to end up meeting with one man for an hour. However, I absolutely thought it was worthwhile. My work generally couldn’t be described as “fast-paced” or “exciting,” but every day I am aware that it is worthwhile. As always, I remain thankful to serve God’s children whether it be 100 or 1 at a time.

Beth Guy is a Global Mission Intern serving as a Global Mission Intern with the Reformed Protestant Church of Guadeloupe and Martinique.  Her placement is supported by Week of Compassion, Our Church's Wider Mission, Disciples' Mission Fund and your special gifts.