Pastor's wife: Not your typical Bahamas vacation


Beginning January 1st, I pray about opportunities to serve the Lord during the year, near or far.  I had one week open in March.  There was a possibility with a dental team going to Alaska. That door closed.  I continued to pray.  If nothing happened, I would just stay home and spring clean.

Some guys in our church are very active in SportsReach, going to prisons in Kentucky, Georgia, and Florida. Established in 1986, SportsReach uses sports to open doors all over the world to share the gospel.  They planned a trip to Her Majesty’s Prison at Fox Hill in the Bahamas.  SportsReach - nor any other American group - had ever gone to the prison.  Our guys planned to meet friends from Georgetown, Campbellsville, and Knoxville and play softball for three days.  In between the games, they would share testimonies (stories of what God has done in their lives) and pray with the inmates.  Some of their wives asked to go to the women’s block in the prison.  Permission was granted.  I was invited and jumped at the chance.  It was the week I had been praying about!

We had no idea what to expect so scoured the internet for pictures to get an idea about space.  A contact there told us there were 45 women in the block.  We prayed, planned, and packed games, paint, puzzles, and Bible studies.  

As soon as we committed to go, violence broke out in the Bahamas.  There were two gangs at war.  Several people had been killed.  Other Americans had experienced horrific things.  The US issued a warning for its citizens to stay away from the Bahamas.  Still, we knew we were supposed to go.

If I might be honest here, we live in dangerous times in a not-so-safe-country.  I drive on US 23, drink city water, and was raised on Country Crock-fake butter.  I’m not guaranteed another day!  And since that is the case, we went right on.  We took precautions, used the buddy system, etc., and were cautiously aware of our surroundings at all times.

When we got to the prison, the guys played softball as planned.  The women had heard we were coming and thought we were going to play softball, too.  We were not.

The prison is hard to describe:  a cinder block structure from a time long past with rusted grates over the window openings.  We could see hands against the grates.  They yelled out to us but only a select group were allowed to join.  

We shared what we had with about 20 inmates.  Over the course of three days, some of our girls told their stories of what God has done in their lives, Jen taught two Bible lessons, we painted an ocean scene on canvas with a Bible verse, and played games.  There was laughing and just fun.  We cannot write to them, but took their names and prayer requests.  Promising to cover them in prayer, we hope to see them next year.

A door to go to the Willie Mae Pratt Center unexpectedly opened up for us.  It is a place for juvenile girls between the ages of 12-17.  They are either court ordered to be there, their parents have taken them, or they are there by choice.  We saw 36 girls each day.  Pulling out our suitcase of tricks, we painted, played inside games, played games outside in the hot Caribbean sun, and shared Bible stories.  

It was not the typical vacation in the Bahamas.  There were torrential rains with roads flooding.  It took 36 hours for us to get home because all flights had been canceled the day before we left.  But we can’t wait to go back!  The Lord opened the door for us to begin something good there and we pray it will continue!


Dawn Reed is a pastor's wife and newspaper columnist. Reach her at