"I want to get away from my old life"

Into the darkest place: prison ministry in Romania

“I was in a difficult moment in my life, not thinking straight. I cannot believe I risked so much to gain so little.”

Sentenced to four and a half years for robbery and detained in Târgsor, Romania’s only female prison, Cristina has had plenty of time to regret the past.

Her greatest sorrow is rarely seeing her three boys. Receiving visitors at Târgsor is difficult because of its remote location: most people cannot afford to travel here.

There are nearly 1,400 women detained in Târgsor, and they live in conditions deemed inhumane and degrading by the European Court of Human Rights, with worn-out plumbing, vermin blocking the toilets, and poor food quality. There is barely 2m² of living space per person, warned a report by the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee.

When Cristina was first jailed, she was placed in the second level after maximum security. She said, “It was madness in there. We were 16 women in one cell room. I couldn’t leave the room for 20 to 22 hours per day. I was very depressed and tried to take my life.

“They gave me diazepam and it made it even worse. I could not eat, I got to 46kg (101 lbs), and was very weakened."


One of eight siblings, Cristina’s brothers and sisters all suffer from mental illness or have committed felonies themselves. Her father and her brother are in prison for manslaughter. Cristina is desperate to escape her past and provide a better future for her family.

I know God helped me through all this. I know he is close to those who call on his name.

“They miss her so much,” said Aglaia, the boys’ grandmother. With help from Mission Without Borders (MWB), she has brought the boys to visit Cristina. 

They are enveloped in a huge hug by their mother and their faces shine as she looks at them with love, talks to them and hugs them again. Her eyes fill with tears as the time comes for them to leave.

“I want to get away from my old life,” Cristina said. “I know God helped me through all this. I know he is close to those who call on his name.”

She has attended weekly counselling sessions run by our partner organisation. “I feel encouraged whenever we sing and pray, and I feel God’s presence there. It’s as if he wants to talk to me.”

In one of the darkest and most hopeless places in Romania, MWB’s Prison Ministry shines a light. By facilitating family visits and providing emotional and spiritual support, we demonstrate Christ’s love to women prisoners, showing them a new path that leads to life and hope for the future.

1,599

1,599 prison care packs were distributed to female prisoners in Romania last year

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