The Soup Kitchen Missions International is an organisation whose aim to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ in every place. I’m privileged to be one of the pioneering members as well as one of the leaders.
Our first visit to Agodi prison was on January 26, 2018. Here is a compilation of our experience.
“It was a really beautiful experience. I was particularly amazed at how the inmates praised God. I expected to see sad and angry faces but to God be the glory. I really look forward to having such an experience again, more grace to the organisers.”- Rachael Ogunfunwa
“It was a beautiful Friday morning; we were 7 in number, all girls, eagerly preparing for the long awaited prison outreach at ‘AGODI PRISON’. The preparations involved prayers and the purchase of provisions (like toiletries and raw rice) for the prison inmates.
We arrived at the location later than expected due to logistics reasons, but all in all, we could say it was the right time. As we stood outside the gate, I could not but imagine what lay beyond those prison gates. Emotions of fear and uncertainty gripped me as I wondered how the outreach would go.
The gates eventually opened and we were promptly ushered into the reception area, a place closer to where the inmates were. Some of the inmates were allowed to pass by us carrying kegs of what looked like water.
As our group head filled in the necessary information to enable us go in, my eyes wandered around the area. Then I caught a glimpse of what they called their RECORDS BOARD; a big white board that plastered in the middle of the reception area. It contained information about the Total number of inmates they had locked up at present. My heart skipped several beats as I read the number ‘1019’ for males and ‘12’ for females. I whispered to another member ‘What are we doing here? ’ only to find out, that she was as uncomfortable as I was. I tried to calm myself down and waited patiently for the frisking exercise to be over.
Passes were then given to us and a female officer led us through another gate, the main gate that led to were all the prisoners stayed. We followed her closely, all filed up in a row, surprisingly I was at the tail end; not that I was scared or anything but I wasn’t too sure of where they were taking us.
We passed by the male arm of the prison, in order to get through to the female side. A wide smile paved my face, as I heard the female officer explain to us that we could only see the female inmates because we were all females in attendance. Suddenly, I felt my boldness and courage come back again; those male prisoners looked super scary, all muscular with fierce looks and poses. Then, the gate that led to the female arm, (yes, another gate) was opened up for us to enter and of course, we were questioned again as to who we were and what our mission was. Gladly we responded appropriately.
The female inmates were seated quietly in groups around the building and some were obviously engrossed in bead works. They were summoned to a small room that was regarded as their place of worship and we were privileged to see 8 out of 12 inmates along with 3 female officers, but we couldn’t care less. We were happy with the warm welcome they gave us.
A brief introduction was made by our group leader and this was then followed by what I would call AN AMAZING PRAISE AND WORSHIP SESSION. I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears as one of the inmates led us all in worship. I couldn’t help but stare and wonder what this inmate’s ordeal was. She sang with such boldness, passion and so much GRACE! My heart was practically leaping for joy. TRUE WORSHIP!
The word of God was preached with so much ease, as utterance was given to say the right words and read the right Scriptures. I, myself marvelled at the beautiful sermon delivered by one of us, the Holy Spirit definitely took charge, as the prisoners listened attentively; one of them even jotted.
We got to know their names and asked them for specific prayer requests, with ‘FREEDOM and MERCY’ voiced out as their main subjects of concern. Shortly, mouths began to speak, hearts were poured out in prayers and tremendous power was made available as we led them on in prayers. Though time seemed short, it was all we needed. God, Himself was indeed present!
Am gladdened with JOY for this experience, it was like no other! Looking forward to another comeback, maybe with the male arm this time around!
LESSON LEARNT: EVEN WHEN THINGS MIGHT LOOK SCARY AND UNCERTAIN, EVEN WHEN FEAR CREEPS IN, CHOOSE TO BE BOLD, KEEP CALM AND KNOW THAT GOD’S GOT YOU COVERED, ALWAYS!!!”
“All in all, it was an enlightening experience, God’s word was shared and we were able to present freedom in Christ to them!”- Yinka Odebunmi
“Sad, to do more”- Wumi Oderinde
“I am grateful to God for the opportunity to reach out to them, I loved every part of it. The praise and worship was very on point. I am thankful because the fruits will abide in Jesus name. I will sure be apart of this over and over again.”- Seun Oni
“Exciting and fulfilling, deep sense of gladness, joy”- Odunayo Familoni
“As we stood in front of the prison, I looked at everyone’s face and I saw folks who didn’t know what to expect. All we knew was God had sent us, He was with us and He would move. I could see minds literarily trying to figure it out.
On the ride over, Odunayo and I came up with a ‘program’, even though I knew things wouldn’t exactly go as planned. The planner in me just had to try.
We got our gift items from the cars and put them in front of the prison. We had to wait a few minutes before we were allowed through the gates. When we entered, I just had this peace in my heart; I knew we were not alone. I signed us in, declared what we brought and each of us collected our passes.
What struck me about the place at first was the ‘apparent’ freedom the male inmates had, they wore regular clothes, and they were able to step outside the gate to carry jerry cans of water. Things were happening around us, yet the place was actually calm.
We were led to the female side. When we got there, the guards led us to the chapel. They helped us to summon the inmates and suggested that we begin with praise and worship.
I could write a thousand words about this session but I won’t. It was heavenly! The inmates led worship and played the drums. It was really beautiful; I’m unlikely to recover from it.
I stepped up to the wooden podium, still clueless about what I was going to say. I opened my mouth and a brief introduction flowed out.
Then, Odunayo spoke boldly about the eternal hope that we have in Jesus, regardless where we may be physically. She reminded us that life was beyond the physical and that eternity is really what counts. She shared from Colossians 3. She also encouraged them to forgive and allow God to work on their hearts.
As she spoke, I began to receive the words to say. I spoke about the love of the Father, and how challenges don’t mean that we are not loved ( Romans 8). I also spoke about the sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit (John 16:5-14), and how we can all relate freely with Him because He is the One who teaches us all we need to know. He is God’s gift to us. He is our friend and He teaches us all we need to know about our Father. The Holy Spirit basically took charge of our mouths.
We asked them if they had questions, none of them volunteered.
Tosin was up next to lead us in prayer, we asked them what their requests were and we prayed over them. We asked for mercy, restoration, a fresh release of joy, freedom! There was such a presence of the Holy Ghost in that meeting.
As we walked out, I knew God was staying. He was there before we got there and He was still there as we left. I knew that light had come. We would see the manifestation soon. I also knew that we would be back, by God’s grace.We went back to UCH together to give thanks and pray. We went back rejoicing.
Afterwards, we shared pizza and drinks to the glory of God.”