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Chaplain Oscar Boloko was called to go to prison. Today, he provides a light to every convict, especially over Christmas.

Chaplin Boloko came from the Democratic Republic of Congo 24 years ago and moved into Ottawa. There, he served at Shalom Community Church. But he felt a calling on his life, so he came to Winnipeg and became the Site Chaplain at Stoney Mountain Institution.

"[I] provide religious services, spiritual guidance, counselling to inmates and educational programs," Boloko explained. "[We] assist the managers, staff, correctional officers, elders and nurses. You work with all those people in a collaborative way."

Boloko says that many of the prisoners are looking for something. Some are trying to get back to Jesus, while others are looking for meaning, which he believes can be found in Jesus. Because of that, Boloko makes sure that every convict is included in his ministry.

"It's a challenging ministry, but someone should step up and do it. It's only by the grace of God that we step up and do it every day."

Prison ministry can be even more challenging during the Christmas season. While families gather to put up decorations and eat, prisoners must stay inside the walls. Some may not even be able to see their families. Others don't have families.

"We [are] a light to the inmates and to the people that work there," Boloko said. "We decorate the chapel for Christmas [and] do our best to have a celebration on Christmas Eve."

They also work with the Salvation Army to bring small gifts to the inmates and even deliver gifts to children the prisoners may have.

"We create an atmosphere to make them not feel abandoned or by themselves."

Boloko pours himself into these prisoners every day because he believes the future of the church is in prison.

"We have seen people who have turned from who they used to be and who are looking [for a] way to see Jesus," he said.

Those in prison appreciate his work as well. Boloko says he received a homemade Christmas card from a prisoner, wishing him a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Others come into his office and ask about his family and how they are doing.

As the Christmas season continues, Boloko knows that Jesus' name needs to be spread throughout the prison.

"Around us, there are so many negative things happening," he said. "But we can believe that with the hope of Jesus coming, the light that we see should not only be decorations but should be the real light of Jesus Christ bringing the light in the darkness. And prison is dark. We need the light over there."

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