It was a marvelous picture of redemption: 80 young men, all prison inmates who were still serving time for their crimes, singing praises to God at Kenya’s presidential palace. It’s an inspiring story that begins with one man named Kelvin Mwikya, who encountered Jesus in a Kenyan prison cell.
In 1992, Kelvin was found guilty of committing a violent robbery, and he was sentenced to 13 years in prison. For Kelvin, it was like a sentence to hell. He knew what awaited him in Kenya’s prison system: unsanitary conditions, scarce and unpalatable food, daily hard labor, and beatings from guards.
Thankfully, for some people, suffering spawns reflection. Two years into his sentence, Kelvin responded to a message brought to his prison by a traveling group from Gideons International. With the Bible they gave him, Kelvin studied and learned what it meant to follow Christ. Set free in his heart and mind, Kelvin knelt each day in his cell to ask God for freedom for his body as well. God heard his prayer, and Kelvin was given an opportunity to appeal his sentence. Five years after he was locked behind prison walls, Kelvin walked out a free man.
Kelvin carried from that prison a deep burden for the souls of the inmates he’d left behind—especially the young men who were incarcerated for committing crimes of desperation, spurred by their extreme poverty. He knew that God was calling him to take the gospel that had freed him back into the prisons, as well as outside of prisons—into juvenile centers, churches and youth meetings—in hopes of preventing impoverished young men from making the same poor decisions he’d made. Kelvin knew their only hope was in Jesus. One of his favorite Bible texts to preach from was Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Over the years since his release, Kelvin’s ministry has touched the lives of many young men. His mission is “holistic transformation;” that is, transformation in every area of life. So Kelvin not only helps young offenders find new life in Christ, but also helps them, in and outside of prison, with educational opportunities and vocational training. He understands that breaking the cycle of crime requires breaking the cycle of poverty. And since so many of the young men in Kenya’s prisons come from broken homes, Kelvin also teaches them basic life skills that they never learned while growing up. Heaven’s Family is thrilled to be partnered with his good ministry.
Word of Kelvin’s success has even reached the ears of Kenya’s president. He invited 80 boys whom Kelvin serves in Mombasa’s juvenile prison, all members of a prison choir, to the presidential palace to sing for him and his guests. Through gifts to the Prison Ministry & Rehab Fund, Heaven’s Family was happy to provide 80 new pairs of shoes and school uniforms for all the choir members who participated in that special occasion. We hope in the near future to help Kelvin construct a much-needed aftercare facility for just-released juvenile offenders, as well as offer small loans to help the young men under his care start self-sustaining small businesses.