Hope From Behind Bars
As told by Dr. Iris Paul, Reaching Hand Society
One night Devae was cooking food for herself and her husband, Muda. She was rushing to cut the vegetables before he returned home. Muda often returned home drunk and would beat Devae if the food was not ready. That night, Muda stumbled into the one-room hut, fully drunk, and very angry, as the food was not ready. Muda started to shout at Devae, caught her hair and started to beat her. In an act of desperate self-protection, with no intention of hurting her husband, Devae threw the cutting knife at him. The knife made a cut on Muda’s throat, causing him to bleed. Devae ran out of the hut shouting for help and a few villagers helped to tie a dirty cloth on the wound and carried Muda to the nearest hospital, which was 20 miles away. Half way to the clinic at Reaching Hand Society, our partner in Orissa, Muda bled to death. Police returned to Devae’s hut and arrested her for murdering her husband.
After three years in prison, no one in Devae’s village was willing to testify that she was innocent – that Muda’s death was an accident. During that time, Devae met staff from Reaching Hand Society (RHS), who have an ongoing rehabilitation program and Sunday worship in the prison. When given the opportunity to take literacy classes, along with all the women prisoners, Devae learned to read and write. She also learned many Christian songs and memorized Bible verses. Over time, Devae accepted Jesus as her Savior and became very happy, even in prison. One day, she and her inmates started to sing Christian songs loudly. When the prison guard shouted at them and commanded them to be quiet, they continued to sing fervently. Later, when asked by Dr. Iris Paul, of RHS, why she did not stop singing, Devae replied, "We love Jesus! He has given us joy and we are free, so we sing!"
During her fourth year in prison, Devae was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment and was shifted to another province jail. RHS staff visited her there and were thrilled to find that she was telling the story of Jesus to others, too! When Dr. Iris Paul walked into the ward, Devae ran to her and hugged her tight, kissing both cheeks. Motivated by Devae’s joy, Dr. Iris and RHS staff asked for and received permission to start work in this prison, too. They employed staff from the local area to serve in the prison ministry.
As of 2010, RHS staff members are working in four main jails in four provinces, and many are finding freedom through Christ. Devae’s story shows that not even prison walls can hold a prisoner captive – she is spiritually free and enjoys the hope and freedom that only Jesus can give.
If you would like to contribute to prison ministry, please click here and select “Prison Ministry” in the drop-down menu. Thank you!