Life on the inside

Life on the inside

A prisoner from Brazil shares his story of finding the light and hope of Jesus amid the bleakness of life in prison.

Photo: Mission partner Andy Walsh baptises a prison inmate in Brazil

My name is Anderson, and as I share my story with you, I am confined within the walls of the men’s prison in Florianópolis, Brazil.

Despite several months of imprisonment, I have still not received a formal sentence and so I have no idea when I will be released.

I am but one among many in this prison in a similar predicament. I am from the state of São Paulo, one of four brothers, all of us raised by an exceptionally dedicated single mother. Our father departed from our lives when I was three years old, and we have had no contact with him since. Our mother instilled in us a belief in God, though for me it was superficial. Until recently.

How did I get here?

I am trained as an electrical technician. I have always been a hard worker. I never imagined I’d end up here, in prison.

My life took a significant turn when I met my wife about a decade ago. Our love was swift and intense, leading us to marry after only a month of courtship. In hindsight, this decision was made hastily and impulsively.

“How could I have ended up in prison? Why was I here?”

Right from the beginning, my marriage encountered challenges. I took charge of all household expenses, while my wife dedicated herself to her clothing business. However, arguments began to surface in our marriage as people began accusing my wife of perpetrating fraudulent scams. As these accusations persisted, I began to question my wife. Things got very unpleasant. After a while we decided to move and for a brief period, I remember being happy.

Andy, with light beard and baseball cap, Pastor Antonio, older, with sunglasses, shirt, tie, sweater and brown leather jacket
Committed to making disciples of Jesus behind bars: mission partner Andy Walsh works alongside Pastor Antônio

Then things took an abrupt turn for the worse. In April 2023, both my wife and I were arrested on fraud charges. She and I were immediately separated and my son is now being cared for by my mother and sister-in-law.

The first few weeks before being transferred to the male prison were the hardest. I was forced to rest on a cold, unforgiving concrete floor. My mind was in turmoil. How could I have ended up in prison? Why was I here?

A purpose for prison?

After being transferred to the male prison I met two people: Pastor Antônio and Pastor André (CMS mission partner Andy Walsh). They regularly visit the prison and they shared the gospel of Jesus with me and others.

I have this memory: in my younger days, there was a moment when I was driving at 70mph on the motorway, and my vehicle collided with the side of a truck. As I emerged from the wreckage, bewildered, I distinctly recall hearing the Lord’s reassuring words, “I will be by your side through all things.”

“One rainy afternoon, as I gazed out into the prison courtyard, I felt God’s presence and his truth flooding my heart.”

One rainy afternoon, as I gazed out into the prison courtyard, I felt God’s presence and his truth flooding my heart. He assured me of his constant companionship and care. I sensed how God had suffered, the profound injustice Jesus endured. I was reminded that, before God, no one here is truly innocent, and I, too, had sinned, having played a part in my predicament by placing trust in people rather than in him.

a dozen men in orange t-shirts and trousers sit in a sparse classroom studying the whiteboard
Some of Anderson’s fellow prisoners taking part in a discipleship course

Over time, I realised that there was a purpose behind my incarceration: my imprisonment was meant to redirect my confidence from self and others to Jesus. I was brought to prison to hear the true gospel of salvation, leading to repentance and a new spiritual life in Christ alone. I was here to know God and live for his purpose.

I began journalling the assurances I received from the Lord, and to find solace, I taped the pages onto the walls of my cell. These words continued to provide me with peace as I revisited them.

I completed a discipleship course led by Pastor André to learn how to follow Jesus more faithfully, and seek God first in everything. It was my first experience of studying the Bible in a group setting. I began sharing the good news of Jesus with fellow prisoners, encouraging them to place their faith in the Lord.

Andy and wife Kati captured at a community event
Long to see people in challenging contexts find hope in Jesus: Andy and his wife Kati, who has a similar ministry in a women’s prison

Future freedom

Mattias, another inmate who completed the course with me, now leads a weekly gathering where we worship, study the Word and pray together in the courtyard. Our group consists of about 20 individuals out of the 35 in our prison wing. I am sensing more and more that God is preparing me inside for my future life outside.

I pray for the day when my name will be cleared of these allegations, allowing me to embrace the Lord’s plan for my new life upon release.

I have realised that my time in prison was meant for me to meet Luiz Felipe, also on my prison wing. We completed the Bible training course together and we have derived profound strength from our shared journey to encountering faith in Christ.

Our conversations have forged a deep, brotherly connection, and we both plan to remain closely connected and undergo baptism by Pastor André upon our release.

Once back in the same community as Pastor André, our shared goal is to serve God through ministry to those in prison.

Thank you for letting me share my story.

Take part

Could God be calling you to be part of the journey, helping someone like Anderson discover that Jesus hasn’t given up on them?

Explore mission opportunities

Get our email newsletter: