Missionary befriends female inmates, helps them find second chance in Christ

By January 7, 2013

Peru (MNN) — What comes to mind when you think of women prisoners in Peru? Probably not a Bible study.

"They have committed murders and robbery, prostitution, drugs, all kinds of things. But they're just women you know? I mean, they're people," says Louise Reimer with The Mission Society. "They've made mistakes; they've had a rough time in their lives perhaps."

Reimer is an avid advocate for redemption; she spent 20 years in the U.S education system working with troubled kids.

"Sometimes, these children would end up going to prison, and I just have a heart for that segment of society because I know that they have experienced things in their lives that would lead them to this kind of a lifestyle," she explains. "I just believe that there's always hope.

"God is a god of second chances, and I want to be there to help them find that second chance in God."

Or maybe when you think of women prisoners in Peru, you remember Lori Berenson.

On November 30, 1995, she was arrested in Lima and accused of gathering information for the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA). Bent on overthrowing the Peruvian government, the MRTA planned to kidnap members of Peru's Congress and exchange them for detained rebel leaders.

Initially tried in a military court and sentenced to life in prison, pressure from the U.S. government got Berenson's case moved to a civilian court. Here, she was found guilty of terrorist collaboration and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Berenson spent 15 years behind bars, where she reportedly developed Raynaud's Syndrome and eye problems as a result of harsh prison conditions. She's currently serving five years on parole in Peru; her release is scheduled for 2015.

"I've…learned that it can be overwhelming for prisoners and those close to them to deal with what many years of incarceration might be like," Berenson's sister, Kathy, told ABCNews.com in a 2010 article.

Reimer knows that first-hand. She sees the anxiety and tears each week when women prisoners gather with her to study God's Word.

Reimer says, "They are just hurting so much, and we are hoping that we can bring them some hope, bring them Jesus Christ, and help them have some peace in their lives, even in the midst of difficult circumstances."

She says you can have this type of ministry wherever you are.

"We can all make a difference in somebody's life," states Reimer. "It's just a matter of asking God. I continue to ask God to put people in my life that I can serve. People that I can have words that would encourage them and share Christ with."

At a recent Bible study, one woman expressed great concern over her 16-year-old daughter, who recently became pregnant.

"They really have a need for prayer for their families, for the safety of their families, because they can't be there to be mother," Reimer says.

Ask God to comfort and protect the families of these women prisoners.

In many ways, Reimer's Bible study with Peruvian prisoners bears a striking resemblance to women's Bible studies across North America.

"It's really no different than a Bible study in a home," says Reimer. "All of us need to grow in our faith, and some people need to be introduced to the faith."

Pray that these women would become more like Jesus as they study His Word.

"I want to see Jesus Christ change these women, so they can walk out and become a person in the society that is going to spread the message of Christ," Reimer says. You can support her work by clicking here.

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