Next month, the Borallon Correctional Centre will re-open as a high-security, government operated, 300-bed mens prison. It is located off the Esk Valley Highway near Fernvale. It is envisaged to be a centre where prisoners will be either ‘earning or learning’ and we hope to see some great outcomes as a result.
Inside Out Prison Chaplaincy will have a new chaplain there too – Sean – whose biography is included in this edition of The Inside Story. Please pray for Sean as he ministers in the prison to the mostly young men residing there.
The reasons for Borallon reopening are many and varied. It was shut after the development of the Southern Queensland Precinct (near Gatton), where a new 300 bed prison was opened. At that point in time, plans were originally made for a ‘super’ prison of up to “four thousand beds” to be located as part of that precinct. The model for this still sits in the visitor’s foyer. Thankfully, that hasn’t occurred (at a cost of a billion dollars per thousand bed prison, there are good reasons for us all to be thankful for that!)
Sadly, one of the driving reasons for the re-opening of Borallon is that we now have the highest ever number of prisoners in Queensland, being some 7700. During the past four years I’ve watched this number steadily increase, year on year. I would suggest that at the current rate of growth, we will be heading towards the numbers of some of the southern states, perhaps 10 000 in the early 2020’s.
Unless something radical happens.
We believe that a radical change in a person’s life has to, at some point, involve spiritual rebirth. That is the catalyst that leads to a change in worldview, as informed by the Scriptures. A change in worldview, changes ones value system. A change in values changes how a person thinks. A change in thinking results in a change to behaviour. In short, changing how a person sees them-self and the world around them, starts with the discovery, or the application of the knowledge, of their supreme worth to God. This is the catalyst for change which underpins long-term transformation.
For example, when I was regularly visiting Borallon prison I would meet with a prisoner named Owen. At the time he was sentenced to a period of five years for well, quite frankly, some serious and violent crimes. Just prior to coming into prison, he had come to faith in Jesus and so I was able to walk with him along the journey of discipleship. He would always be asking for devotional material and would eagerly take whatever other resources were available. Owen and I would meet together in the chapel for prayers, bible study and a chat over a cuppa. Like so many chaplains, I found that I went there to encourage him, but he was an encouragement to me.
He was deported from Australia upon release, and has remained drug free, crime free and a strong believer since. Owen’s worldview was changed through the process of Spiritual rebirth and reshaped by the Scriptures. How he sees himself, God and his place in God’s order has resulted in the long-term change to his behaviour. This changed behaviour, is the change which is desirable to all in the community, if only for financial reasons by some!
Even though he has a life-time ban from Australia, he has been involved in sharing his testimony with churches throughout New Zealand and even visiting other countries at the invitation of churches, to share his story, about what God has done in his life. For his part, he has taken the message back into prisons in other countries and believes that this is something that God has asked him to do. A truly amazing story of transformation!
Please pray for Owen, and the 7700 others, who are prisoners (like he was), that they too may be changed from the Inside, Out.