I received an email this morning from a friend of mine called Michael Boulding, who is living and working in Mombassa, Kenya. He’s working for an organisation called CLEAR, who provide legal assistance for people on remand. Often, people can be on remand for years with no conviction. Their lives, waste away as the legal process forgets them…….
This email told me that a contact in Zambia was going to visit a man called Nasser who has been on remand for armed robbery (he claims he is innocent) for three years. I’m very pleased that finally, somebody legal is going to visit him. You see, I met Nasser last April when I was in Zambia myself.
That was the result of the most convoluted set of events you are ever likely to hear. So here we go…..
Nasser knew an old English gentleman and wrote to him asking for help in his predicament. Now the years are catching up with this gentleman, so much so that he cannot really deal with his own affairs, so a nice lady from a local Church helps him. This lady is the sister of an individual in my Church (you still with me…) called Rosie Saddler who with her husband Doug, does missionary work in China. She knew that I did some work in Zambia and passed the letter to me, and there it resided on my desk for a while until I thought about it. I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to look at it again, so I did.
That feeling, left me thinking that I should at least visit Nasser when I was in Zambia. The trouble was how would I even get into the prison. How does one even find the prison in Lusaka, never mind get in? So with some prayer as I was flying to the country I hoped I would be able to visit. It’s breakfast in the Lusaka hotel. One of my friends mentions the fact at breakfast, that we would like to visit the prison. The manager, a friend called David says he knows someone who may be able to help.
Two weeks later, I am in the capital again. I’m with a man called Grace, going towards the prison in a taxi. Grace works for Prison Alpha, an evangelistic initiative in prisons within Zambia. We get there and they won’t let me in because I’m not Zambian. We then must go to the office of the President to get permission to go in. That is usually impossible in Zambia, those of you who know the situation will know that will never happen in 2 – 4 weeks, never mind hours.
BUT IT DID, our letter went through 2 main government departments, an unhelpful secretary and the Permanent Secretary to the President all so I could visit this prisoner Nasser. Unbelievable.
We got to the prison with 10 minutes to spare, and eventually got in.
Nasser is a Muslim who has converted to Christ. He is mild mannered and gentle. Now I do not know if he did his crime or not. I’ve met a lot of prisoners and visited a few prisons, and my gut feeling is that he may be innocent. Whether he is innocent or not, the conditions he is in are frankly bad, very bad. Over 100 people in a cell built for 20. It is hard. Fortunately, the chairman of Prison Alpha (an inmate himself) had been taking care of Nasser, helping him adjust to prison life.
My visit to Nasser, meant that there was a very visible symbol that God cared for Him, that God heard his prayers, that he was not alone. That visit meant that inwardly I am hoping beyond hope and believing against all odds that the solicitors visit to Nasser tomorrow means that something begins to happen in his life. I feel in some ways I am caught up in one of those God things that happens in life.
I don’t know what the outcome will be. I don’t know if Nasser will be free. I don’t even know completely if he is innocent. I said I would try to help to bring it to trial which means that justice, whatever way can be done.
So why am I sharing this with those who follow my blog. I’m sharing it because I want you to pray, I want you to pray now for Nasser, pray for this situation. I’m once again in a situation where I cannot physically do anything, but I believe in a God who can do the impossible.
Pray for Nasser, pray for the solicitor….. let’s see what happens. One thing I am sure about, if we do not pray, nothing will happen and Nasser will still be on remand.