According to the Prison Monitoring Bank of the National Council of Justice (CNJ), Brazil has the third-largest prison population in the world, with more than 800,000 prisoners.
To alleviate this situation and offer solutions to the public authorities, the Central Planalto Association (APlaC), the administrative headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for the region of Brasília and surrounding areas, and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) created a prison ministry in Brazil.
On July 9th, the ministry group visited the Luziânia Women's Prison in Goiás. During their visit, they observed the different sewing and handicraft projects that the inmates had made and the coordinator of the prison ministry, Joymir Guimarães, shared a message of hope.
Right now, twelve prisons in the Federal District and region fall under the care and attention of the prison ministry. Weekly, 195 chaplains work in these prisons and visit the relatives of those who are incarcerated. Due to the pandemic, some of the actions needed to be readjusted.
“On occasion, they study the Bible and bring a message of the grace of Christ. And this message of love and restoration influences [the prisoners’] behavior”, points out Guimarães.
Several volunteers participate in the prison ministry, including pastors, chaplains, lawyers, psychologists, and others. Each person helps in a specific way. During visits, they talk and use stories from the Bible to allow for moments of reflection and bring about change in the inmates' lives.
Social development projects are also offered, such as Página Virada, which, in addition to helping to reduce their prison sentence, encourages the habit of reading. The goal is to reduce idleness, and create new, positive thinking patterns through reading.
Project leader, Pastor Jeconias Neto, explains that the Adventist Church seeks to serve both men and women. “They, in particular, have excellent behavior, in reading the Word of God and in services. It is a great joy for us to see the Church spreading the gospel in an integral way so that all people have this possibility”, says Neto.
The Prison Ministry also obtained the release for TV Novo Tempo, a channel with Christian content aimed at the family, to be installed in six prisons in Brasília. In all, 15,000 prisoners can view the programming every day. The intention is to expand this network to all prisons.