From smuggling to salvation
By Mary Pinkston | Peru in South America
A drug trafficking arrest. Photo by SIM Canada.
Peru is one of the biggest cocaine producers in the world, and often foreigners – especially women – are used to transport the drugs out of the country. If caught, offenders are immediately arrested at Lima airport.
Sally* is Malaysian. She was arrested in 2019 for drug trafficking and was sent to the Lima’s Santa Monica prison.
There, Sally discovered ‘Walking in Liberty’, our ministry that supports English-speaking female foreign inmates and ex-offenders. She started attending our weekly Bible study, and we soon found that she had many questions about why, if God was good, he had allowed her to get arrested.
In the beginning Sally had no Spanish or English and relied on translations from another inmate who could speak her native language. When a donation of material in her own language arrived, though, Sally was given her own, brand-new New Testament.
After a few months, one of the inmates called, saying that Sally had read right through her New Testament and wanted to know what was in the Old Testament that it kept referencing.
The only complete Bible we had in Sally’s language was and old, well-used one that had been donated to us, full of 'Post-It' notes written by its previous owner. This was sent in, and we prayed that God would use the annotations to help her understand His word.
When she learned she was to be deported home, Sally wanted to see me and obtained special permission for this to happen. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and prison rules, we were restricted to monthly zoom meetings and had not had a face to face visit in over two and a half years.
Sally is East-Asian and, to show her respect, had saved money to provide a snack for us to share during my visit. She also gave me some of her own artwork. It was very humbling to be shown such respect.
As she had learned a little English and Spanish over the years, we were able to talk. When it didn’t make sense, we used her bilingual Bible to communicate
From her description of her life before prison, Sally didn't seem to have been a very kind woman or a hard worker. Now, she explained, when she phones her children she tells them how much she loves them and misses them. Then she smiled and laughed as she told me how much she enjoyed cleaning for 5 Peruvian soles (US$1.30). With passion in her eyes, she told me how her youngest child really liked this ‘new mommy’ who is kind and loving to her on the phone.
Sally was adamant that she wants to be water baptized. We didn’t have time enough or language for me to ensure that she understands fully the significance of what she has asked, but the light in her eyes tells me something has changed.
She is scheduled to be deported next month but has a strong desire to stay and work for a short time in Lima. She is worried that when she arrives home, she will be arrested. We are praying that the God who has drawn her to Himself will provide a way for her to be baptized and protect her when she returns home.
· Thank God and ask His blessing for the team who show love to prisoners in Peru in His name.
· Ask that donations of gospel material – especially Bibles – would continue to arrive and be used to change lives.
· Join in asking God to provide a way for Sally* to be baptized and to protect her when she returns home.
This ministry seeks to be a tangible expression of the love of Jesus Christ through meeting the emotional, spiritual, and physical needs of the women who have been arrested for attempting to traffic cocaine out of Peru.
To give, please go to donations.sim.ca/projects/PeruPrisonMinistry
Do you speak Spanish and have a heart for women in need? There are many short and longer-term opportunities available for those with counselling, discipling, or social work skills.
To enquire about working in this project, please email email@example.com
*name changed for privacy