All Clare ever wanted was to feel loved. She recalls watching TV shows featuring happy families as a child and crying through the opening credits.
As she grew up, Clare struggled to fit in at school, and then in the workplace. She felt lonely, rejected and yearning for love. So, when Adam came into her life, she clung to him like a life raft.
Clare shrugged off Adam’s drug use, thinking it was normal. Then she joined in, just happy to be part of something after feeling lonely for so long.
But a growing drug habit is expensive. Clare’s meagre income couldn’t support her drug use, and Adam struggled to hold down a job. He devised a plan to break into homes and steal items to sell for drug money. The plan worked for a while, but eventually the pair were caught and sentenced to prison.
Alone in her prison cell, Clare once again felt overwhelmed by loneliness. She didn’t really talk to anyone, until one of her cellmates invited her to a chapel service. Clare had never been to church before, but she yearned for connection, so she went along.
Her first memory of chapel was the great big smile on the prison chaplain’s face as she welcomed Clare into the small room. She looked Clare in the eyes – something that rarely happens in prison – and said she was glad to see her. What really struck Clare is that she really meant it.
Clare sat through the service and heard about the unconditional love of Jesus for the first time; the love she had been missing all her life. She had lots of questions for the prison chaplains, which they answered over the coming months, and eventually she asked if she could have a Bible.
Each morning in her prison cell, Clare started the day by reading her Bible. She was in awe of Jesus and the love and hope he offered freely. She gave her life to him and the empty part of her that drugs couldn’t fill was whole for the first time.
Clare was able to write to Adam while she was in prison and told him about the chaplains. She was shocked when he replied to say that he had been speaking with prison chaplains as well, and he was leading a regular Bible study with other prisoners.
Clare was released from prison a few months before Adam, so she connected in with a local church that was recommended to her by the prison chaplains. She started a part-time job and joined a Bible study group.
Adam is now also out of prison too. He was so impacted by prison chaplains; he is now studying Theology and plans to be involved in full-time ministry. Adam and Clare are planning their wedding and are now leading a regular Bible study group together.
Clare said: “I had a messed-up view of love before going into prison, but prison chaplains showed me what love really looks like. They treated us like human beings, which is so rare ‘inside’, and showed me God’s love. I’m not lonely anymore.”