I wrote last week of God’s miraculous provision in preserving Hope Mountain, but that was only the beginning of what God had in store that day. There was a third point to the Vice-Governor’s proposal to us.
But first, a bit of background. Hope Mountain (HM), to no small degree, came into existence 11 years ago because our Board was so moved by the horrific conditions they saw when they visited the children’s prison across the valley from HM. Sixteen children crammed into small cells built of block and iron bars; a hole in the floor for a toilet; a weekly “bath” that consists of guards hosing children down from the catwalk above the cells; children murdered by other children inside the walls. Evil. There had to be a way for the power of Love to oppose the evil in that place. Conditions there are so bad, in fact, that the very morning we were to announce the closing of HM, the Organization of American States Human Rights Court issued a formal judgment of condemnation against Brazil for conditions at the Adolescent Internment Unit of Cariacica—the very prison located across the valley from HM.
So, the Vice-Governor’s third point:
Hope Unlimited will prepare for the Vice Governor a proposal to develop a fully state funded correctional facility for children using the transformational model in place at Hope Mountain. In his words, to develop something that would be “a model for all of Brazil and South America.” We were already aware of the OAS condemnation of Brazil, and had heard something like this might be coming, so it did not catch us totally by surprise. In fact, we had already been in contact with Chuck Colson and Ron Nikkel of Prison Fellowship International about a partnership in such a project. Accepting this proposal does not commit us to running a children’s correctional facility, but rather to explore with the state how our model might be used to transform the lives of children who come into the state’s penal system.
Where does all this leave us? We walk into a meeting “knowing” that we will be saying goodbye to staff and trying to find a way to place our kids, and we walked out with not only provision for those kids, but also the possibility of touching the lives of thousands of other children in the correctional system.
What a God we serve!
In case you’re wondering, the photograph in this post is the view of the children’s prison from the HM auto body repair classroom.