What is the reason for a 76-year-old sister to serve delightedly for 27 years in prison ministry?
In recent years she shared her story on TV and interviews in Taiwan as well as other countries to remind people that God also loves prisoners who are serving their terms and that people should not forget them.
She is 76-year-old sister Mama Wen (Ms Jong Mei Jin) aka “Mother of Taiwan Prison”.
Mama Wen is an Indonesian Chinese who was born and raised in Indonesia. She married an Indonesian Chinese but they settled in Taiwan after their marriage and that was how she embarked on the prison ministry in Taiwan.
She first came to know and think well of Christianity when she was in primary school due to a caring Christian teacher. After the teacher left the school she was very lost. She lost interest in her studies and failed her grades. She went to the fortuneteller with her classmates and was told that in future she would bring misfortune to her husband and children. That caused her to deny herself completely. Eventually she had depression and her mother took her to mediums hoping for cures.
One day she found a copy of Bible in her brother’s room. She knelt down and prayed. After that her odd behavior was changed miraculously. From then on she would recite the Lord’s Prayer and sleep with the Bible. Initially her mother strongly opposed Christianity but seeing her improving condition she allowed her to go to church. In the church she experienced the richness of God’s love and believed that she could depend on God forever. She accepted Christ when she was in high school. Being English educated Mama Wen was fortunate enough to find a job in a foreign bank and planned to further her studies in the UK. Unexpectedly she was unable to get her visa. In her disappointment she went to Taiwan for a holiday and there she married her classmate Mr Wen who had attended tertiary education in Taiwan and was working in Taiwan.
The couple has 2 sons. Both of them are brought up in the church. Although her husband would go to church with her, it was not until 13 years later that her husband accepted Christ. Since then her family was her biggest supporter in her ministry. Both her 2 sons are now married and are serving well in the church.
Pray in the wilderness
At first Mama Wen was not aware of God’s plan for her to serve the prisoners. She was very sick in 1982 and during a gathering she was filled with the Holy Spirit and she recovered after which she made up her mind to be closer to God. Later the Holy Spirit led her to pray in the “wilderness” for 10 years and she became closer to God.
“At that time there were these reeds which covered hill slope behind my house and the view was fantastic. Despite feeling timid, God led me to pray on the hill slope from 4 to 5 o’clock in the morning.”
A group of ex-prisoner Christian brothers from Hong Kong came to Taiwan to witness that the gospel could save people from drugs abuse at the end of 1991. Mama Wen was much inspired by their sharing and she called out to Lord, “Lord! I want to give my life to you.”
A month later, Mama Wen had a vision in her dream. “I saw some people were struggling in the sea. Seeing the big waves pushing these people to the shore I rushed and pulled them onto the shore. As I remembered that I was also saved by Jesus, I knelt to dedicate my life to God.”
God’s mighty plan was revealed to Mama Wen slowly. Not long after her vision a film showing Mother York of USA going to prisons to help prisoners touched her. After another two months a sister invited her to serve in prison ministry; from then on she served in the Taiwan Kameyama Prison, Tucheng Detention Center, Juvenile Detention House and the gospel drug rehabilitation work at the Operation Dawn.
“Now I am serving the prison ministry 4 days a week. I care for the prisoners, evangelizing to them and telling them that God loves them.”
Praying on her knees
Though she never planned to move from Indonesia to Taiwan or from being an ordinary housewife to evangelising to prisoners, God has been leading her and she has been obedient to her calling. Since she was 50, she often prayed on her knees and “on her knees” she served the prison ministry for 27 years.
However she is not limiting her ministry to Taiwan only. For the past three years she had shared about her ministry in various churches in Melbourne, Dubai, Malaysia and etc. She is hoping to encourage more people to see the importance of this ministry.
“In fact 70% of crimes are related to drugs, so if we can reduce the rate of drugs abuse we can reduce the crime rate indirectly.”
If these ex-drug addicts were given proper guidance they could not only kick their habits but could also become pastors and there are life cases. “Some of the prisoners I served become pastors though we don’t see a high percentage of them.”
Talking about her ministry, Mama Wen finds it most comforting to see her efforts bearing fruits. “Of course there are cases of failed drug rehabilitation, but I feel so comforted seeing real changes in them.”
Visiting Victory Home in Sibu
She visited the Sibu Victory Home on 5 April with Gan Chin Keong, the person in charge of Penang Rumah-Victory.
Besides visiting Victory Home, Mama Wen also shared about her prison ministry in various churches in Sibu. She thanked God for the establishment of the Victory Home. Unfortunately she was unable to visit local because of other reasons.
“Although I can’t visit the local prisons, I hope that through my sharing the Holy Spirit will touch the church more people will come forward to commit themselves in this ministry.”
Interviewed by Menglei
Recorded by April
Translated by KT Chew