Have you ever stepped into the walls of prison? A Ghanaian prison? Prisons Diaries is to share the largely overlooked perspectives about life, bonded and free so you can appreciate what it mean to be where you are. Lesson 1 – Separating Oneself.
My Sunday Service in Ghana Prisons
A regular Sunday morning it was, the non-believers were about their business whiles the muslims were done with their early batch of prayers to Allah but the “faithful convicts” now converts gathered in the far middle room amidst their usual praises and worships to God(Jesus the Saviour) as we walked in to share a seat and also listen to the word from the preacher.
“Is everyone here a convict?” I tapped the preacher to ask.
“Yes, everyone except you and I”, he replied.
Amazed as I was, I sat in awe and in the silence of my mind amidst the loud bangs from the drums, the synchronisation of the singers and the host of guys on the instruments got me thinking if this was not staged or if it was a dream!
My thoughts ran wild and I paused and asked myself if pinching myself would get me to wake up. I did, and it was not a dream… I’m in a room with convicts now converts and so I quickly joined in the clapping of hands and in lip sync with the songs.
The Bible text was read in English by one pastor(an inmate) in English and another pastor(an inmate) in Asante Twi.
Attention: Dear Reader, the below text is one you and I know too well, but for the sake of the next life lessons, do read it as I listened attentively to it being read and re-read on that faithful Sunday.
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so.
16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds:the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animalsaccording to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
The Message: Separating Yourself
The two inmate pastors had left their microphones on the podium. Then I began to question myself again, “What has the story of creation you and I know too well got to do with inmates”?
I watched on as the preacher took to the podium and after saying a short prayer, he asked the congregants(the inmates), “how many of you understand that God has a plan for everything and everyone?” The room(church) went silent, and so he went on to answer his own self.
“God has plans for each and everyone of you, including me. He is the master planner and always knows the end from the beginning. He know where to put what and when to put it. He from the word go knew what must go here and there.”
“He sets everything apart so everything knew where to belong!” – He amplified!
Being an infant, it was okay for you to be seen crawling and limbing on the ground, but reach a certain age where you are now called an adolescent, and decide to still crawl on the floor and surely society will brand you as “something is wrong”. You are allowed to behave in a certain way in a certain time, but over time you ought to separate yourself and grow.
In Genesis, God formed the earth and everything was “formless”, He did not leave it as it was, but took charge, took responsibility and separated each of the elements and named them. After naming them, assigned roles for each.
Life is a chaos if it is lump sum. We get to the make wrong decisions when we lump everything together as a whole. Circumstances and issues set us to view things as a whole without learning to separating them in a bid to appreciate how we can make better judgements by naming that which we can deal with or not.
We blame people for things that happens to us because we refuse to separate the instances to appreciate the good in some of the things we overlook. Even God, when he started off, everything was lumped up together, “formless” he separated them so you and I can appreciate the beauty of life, nature and existence, it is a lesson for you. Separate yourself.
The first point in life is that you are allowed to be a child, you are allowed to be at your genesis, you are at liberty to begin. When you begin, you ought to be aware, and then take charge, assume responsibility and separate that which is good for your life from that which is not good for your life.
Being incarcerated, or walking free in the open, you are faced with formative tasks. After forming certain lifestyles, behaviours, habits, you ought to name them and know which is good for a particular time or not. Separating things in your life is about setting yourself apart.
Separate yourself and be free whether in prison or in the openness of your abode!