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In 1994 when many of their friends were considering retirement, missionaries Bill and Fayth McConnell started a drug rehab center, helped start an orphanage, and began building churches. In 1999 they started ministering in women’s prisons.

In 2005, with the help of ministry teams, inmates, and a block-making machine, Bill and Fayth built a chapel in the women’s prison. Then in 2006 the McConnells’ daughter, Joy Brown, and her husband, Del, joined them full time. Shortly after, both couples also began ministering in the boys’ juvenile prisons in Northern Mexico.

The couples lead weekly Bible studies where they worship and pray with inmates, getting to know each one of them personally. They also play games with the boys, teach them how to memorize Scripture, bring them food, and show them God’s love. Fayth said, “We have had the privilege to minister to over 300 teen boys and girls in the Hermosillo Juvenile prison. This has been a great opportunity for us to share Christ’s love. We are seeing lives changed.”

In 2017 Bill and Fayth met with the directors of ITAMA (Institute of Treatment and Application of Measures for Adolescents), a boys’ juvenile holding prison in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, where boys are held six months until they receive their sentence. Upon sentencing, these boys were moved to Hermosillo Juvenile prison.

Axel's mom, Sara, rejoices in God's amazing answer to prayer.

Axel’s mom, Sara, rejoices in God’s amazing answer to prayer.

Fayth shares, “Bill and I had the opportunity to share our hearts for the boys and what we would like to accomplish with them. We also shared that we would like to spend more time with the boys where they are not behind bars. We were so happy when they agreed to our request.”

Recently the State and ITAMA decided to keep the boys in Nogales after sentencing rather than sending them to Hermosillo (four hours from Nogales). This will allow the boys to continue meeting with the McConnells and Browns weekly for their entire sentence instead of just six months.

Testimonies flow from the prison ministries. Sara, a current inmate at the women’s prison, has been attending a weekly Bible study led by the McConnells and Browns. God has done great things in Sara’s life. She was baptized and filled with the Spirit, and the Lord has given her songs and poems. Before being incarcerated, Sara abused drugs. Her son, Axel, had been left on his own most of his early years in life due to her addiction.

Axel in prison

Axel in prison

When he was ten years old, Axel attended the Kids Kingdom Orphanage in Imuris, Mexico, a place the McConnells helped start and build. (The missionaries also bring in teams to hold Vacation Bible Schools, spend time playing with the kids, complete construction projects and share the love of Jesus.) Kids Kingdom provided Axel with food, clothing, love, and God’s Word when his mother was absent from his life.

Sadly, instead of following the godly teachings he received in the orphanage, Axel followed in his mother’s footsteps and became immersed in the drug culture. Before long he ran afoul of the Mexican mafia. One day they kidnapped Axel, beat him severely, and left him for dead by the side of a road.

When she learned Axel had been kidnapped, Sara asked our Bible study group to pray that God would protect Axel. God answered these prayers in a very unusual manner. Axel was arrested for stealing and was sent to juvenile prison at ITAMA. Sara was grateful that her son was alive.

Axel began attending the Bible studies at ITAMA and gave his heart to the Lord. Sara said, “Nothing is impossible for God. I am grateful from the bottom of my heart for all the time that was spent in prayer on his behalf.”

Although Sara and Axel had been apart for ten years, their story doesn’t end there. At one of the ITAMA Bible studies, Axel shared that God had given him a dream in which God told him to forgive his mother for everything she had done. After sharing the dream, Axel looked directly at the missionaries and proclaimed, “I have forgiven her.”

Axel shared that God had given him a dream in which God told him to forgive his mother for everything she had done.

The judge for Axel’s case has agreed to let him see his mother once a week for two hours. The two are getting reacquainted and able to grow together in the Lord. They have seen many prayers answered.

Bill and Fayth meeting with the ITAMA board.

Bill and Fayth meeting with the ITAMA board.

The McConnells and Browns continue to meet with and mentor women and teens who have been released from prison. Some of these former inmates have become staff or volunteers and minister alongside the missionaries.

Fayth shares, “Our purpose is to glorify God, bring people to Jesus Christ, and minister to the spiritual, emotional, physical, and social needs of the disadvantaged men, women, and children of Northern Mexico.”

Well done!

To support the McConnells, click here.
To support the Browns, click here.

About the Author

MichelleWanat-2018-300pxMichelle Wanat is the Executive Assistant for Global Missions. She and her husband, David, and their three children attend Journey Church of the Open Bible in Urbandale, Iowa.

About The Author

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