A month or so ago I received a prayer request from my hosts in Africa, John and Ruth Kerr. It concerned a graduate of Trans-Africa College, where I have the privilege of teaching Apologetics classes each year. This is a story of our sovereign God's working in the life of a Spirit-filled, faith-filled believer in Jesus Christ. I hope you enjoy reading it, and I hope you will pray for the safety and success of Trans-Africa College.
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October 20, 2007
A few weeks ago we asked you to pray for our recent graduate, Charles Mulumena, and his release from prison? Here's his story!
What can you say about our Charles Mulumena? He was praying in the fields, hearing the footsteps he thought were heavenly messengers! Unfortunately, when he opened his eyes he was surrounded by the police. It was The Drug Enforcement Unit. And they were taking him downtown!
“Can I at least go back for my Bible?,” he asked.
“No! You are coming now. We need your testimony. You can be released after you testify.” So Charles went along, assuming they’d be coming back later, like the arresting officer said. Much later, Charles was on his way into custody for four months – a morning quiet time with a twist!
They took him to the Police Station and booked him, along with a half dozen drug dealers. It turned out that those footsteps he had heard were a bunch of pushers and thieves running from the police. Poor Charles! He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Four days passed before the hearing. Charles kept busy sharing his faith with some of the lost souls in the Remand Centre. He was comfortable in the knowledge that the booking officer knew he was innocent. He would be a free man in a few days. Or so he thought!
As it turned out, the booking officer who knew his situation had been called away on the fourth day. Charles was charged along with the drug dealers! His crime? Being in possession of 3.5kgs of marijuana as confirmed by Kitwe’s Drug Enforcement Unit – a “very corrupt unit,” it is said. Charles says when he heard the charge he almost burst out laughing.
But this was the stuff of tears. Our Charles Mulumena, illustrious graduate of Trans-Africa College, youth worker-evangelist par excellence – now hand-cuffed and delivered to the Kamphinsa Penitentiary, one of the largest, and most degraded insititutions in all of Southern Africa! For at least one month, until the next hearing. Awaiting final sentencing.
Suddenly he was surrounded by some of the toughest customers in Zambia.
“You must be a Pastor,” said the ringleader, a miniature Mafioso and a murderer. “You don't look like you could kill anyone -- right boys?" They grinned and nodded their agreement -- a rag-tag bunch of petty thieves and hardened criminals. "No, he is not one of us."
“Yes, I am a pastor,” Charles replied.
“You see? A Pastor. I knew it.” He was a novelty and his gracious manner soon gained him respect and favor. In fact, from the first day at the prison, he was treated like a divine emissary.
But he was far from happy about his plight. His first night was full of tears and lamentations -- asking God the "Why" questions? And "How?" "How could a morning of prayer turn into this? ... Why, God?.... Why have you allowed this to happen to me?" Then, he says, a very supernatural peace came over him. He knew God had sent him there for a purpose.
The chaplain soon had him preaching three times daily in the auditorium. The Holy Spirit began to move. Inmates began to get saved. Arrangements were made to baptize a group of new believers. New converts included a prison guard. Two notorious Satanists, who had killed many people, were among these new Christians. So transformed were these young men, who had been steeped in witchcraft, that they became Charles’ primary supporters and "personal workers." They made sure the chapel was full for services. They brought along inmates with special needs for prayer. Miracles of healing were taking place. Charles found himself ministering to all the great host of unaddressed needs and injustices that fill such tragic dumping wards worldwide.
The month was soon past and the day for his appearing before the judge came. He was transported into town and sat in the courtroom ready to go home. But there was no judge! His Honour was away for a funeral. They would have to reconvene for sentencing -- in another thirty days! Charles was back to Kamphinsa again!
He was one sad young man as he filed out with the prison population again. But as he made his way to the truck, he spotted his “arresting officer” in the hall! And the man recognized him!
“But Pastor!... what are you doing here? You were supposed to have been released the same day!” He promised to follow it up and get Charles freed. But three more months behind bars awaited our Charles – because the judge did not appear as needed.
Fortunately, Charles was spared the normal sleeping arrangements, 54 inmates laid out like cord wood in a room the size of a school room. Someone found him a mattress and a private corner. Friends and fellow-students brought him food -- a very welcome relief from prison fare! Most important, Charles' ministry just continued to expand and grow. Special meetings were arranged for the serious offenders in the Penal Section. Many were saved and baptized.
“Over a thousand committed their lives," he said later. “I left at least 88 new Christians, committed to meeting together. God took me there.... He sent me on a mission."
Just before his release, a hand-delivered letter from Charles appeared at our door:
Dearest Dr. and Mrs. Kerr,
It's so amazing to think of you people.... Where would my life have been without you good people at TTC? I have a lot to say about the grace of God that the Apostle Paulsays is suffiecient for him.
Indeed, it is sufficient for me as well. I'm sure you have been told about my whole story that I am facingnow, though not in full maybe.
Now I have come to understand that indeed "all things work together for good to them that love the Lord," as Paul puts it. God brought me to prison for a purpose and that purpose is to accomplish His divine mission in my life.
For sure a lot of people have wondered as to what could be happening with and in me. But then one thing I assure you is that I have learnt a lot here in terms of ministry and God is using me greatly to reach the lost souls. As a matter of fact our chaplain has picked me to be the pastor in charge of other cell pastors and prisoners.
Not only that, but God has also opened ministry opportunities for both me and my church that even after my discharge, I'll be ministering in prison. There are many wonders that I'll be sharing with you in person.
I'm so glad to learn that even the college community is praying for me. Be rest assured that your faithful prayers are working wonders. May the Lord God of the harvest be there for all fo you and blessiongs to all of you people.
I love you and please continue praying for I'll be appearing in court on the 12 of this month.
Goodbye for now.
Your faithful Prisoner of Christ,
Now that he's a free man, Charles spends a lot of time walking around town. We met him in front of Shoprite a few days after his release.
"I don’t believe that mission is ended," he said. "I want to continue doing prison ministry!”
And we really want to help make that happen! God has opened this door. We must make sure that this ministry continues -- and also that Charles can be an advocate for the many prisoners who, like him, have ended up in Kamphinsa without knowing why.
Join us in prayer about this! Together we can help build this ministry from the ground up!
John and Ruth [Kerr]