An inmate who is on the death row at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison recently graduated after the completion of a course in Voice of Prophecy Bible Study Guides.
The inmate, Jack Sakala, was part of 450 others who last Thursday were presented with certificates following the completion of the course which was initiated by the Seventh-Day Adventist Harare City Centre Church.
The inmates were taken through a course consisting of 26 Bible Study Guides, with examinations covered in six months.
Fourteen others aso received their VOP certificates at an emotional occasion.
“If the judge knew that we were going to get this Bible truth before we die, he should have said, I am sentencing you to eternal life,” said Jack Sakala, exuding some hope.
The graduation ceremony and party was a rare occasion in which condemned inmates were allowed to mingle with the rest of the inmates.
A prison officer who declined to be named confirmed that it was very rare to see condemned inmates openly participating at such events.
Addressing people at the graduation ceremony, guest of honour and Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison Officer-in-Charge Assistant Commissioner Norbert Chomurenga thanked the SDA Church for promoting spirituality behind bars.
He said such efforts will assist them in rehabilitating convicts and prepare them to be good people when they were released back into the community.
“At this place we have people who have committed serious crimes and if churches are coming we feel very much relieved because we know that our boys will be comforted and corrected by the word of God.
“If the gospel is preached it softens their hearts, we have people who are on death row and most of them are now at ease because of the word of God. That is why we value our relationships with Christian denominations,” said Asst Comm Chomurenga.
Asst Comm Chomurenga said the VOP programme comprises teachings that have power to rehabilitate people.
“What you have done is in line with the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) theme for 2017 which says ‘Correct, empower and develop’.
“The Government of Zimbabwe strongly encourages the formation of public-private-partnerships (PPPs) and the coming on board of SDA has made this possible.
“The SDA City Centre Church is playing a pivotal role in the preaching of the word of God to the inmates as well as giving material support in forms of donations of food and non-food items,” he said.
He added that in 2016, 250 inmates from his prison graduated after completing the VOP course and this year the number has increased to 450.
“Thank you SDA Church for the continued support in spiritual, social, economic and physiological rehabilitation of inmates.
“As ZPCS, and Chikurubi Maximum in particular, we are greatly humbled by this kind of support, without you we could be talking of a different story altogether.
“Continue to be our pillar and bring us more supporting programmes of this kind,” said Asst Comm Chomurenga.
He also encouraged the inmates to implement what they learnt from the 26 lessons.
SDA retired pastor Million Booni also preached about the importance of earnestly studying the Bible. He said those who have studied it have been transformed.
Regularly, several Christian denominations visit prisons around the country donating food and non-foodstuffs. These include the Roman Catholic, Celebration Church, Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa (Zaoga), Universal Church, Anglican and Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, among many others. – state media