He’s been here before. The Police car drops him off on the streets of his old neighbourhood… back to where all the trouble began. Usually, he’d wave them off and smirk ‘See you again soon.’ But this time, it’s different.
Geoff has been in and out of jail for 17 years. He’s attended every course; like ‘Anger Management’ and ‘Drug and Alcohol Addiction Counselling.’ But in his own words: ‘You can drag a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.’ Then one day, he picked up a Bible and said: ‘Alright God, I reckon it’s time to give you a go.’
Geoff started attending the regular Prison Church service, sitting in the back row at first, sceptical. But each week he found himself moving closer and closer to the front until eventually he surrendered his life to Christ. And in that moment, his life changed forever.
But that doesn’t mean it’s been easy.
On the day of his release, he was nervous about falling back into old habits. Back in his old neighbourhood, surrounded by the friends who would try and lure him back into drugs and ‘trouble making.’ But the very next day, there was a knock on his front door. It was a Pastor, just checking in. the following day, two others called ‘just to see how he was going.’
Geoff was welcomed into a local church community where he was recently baptised while some of his fellow ‘ex-inmates’ watched on.
Geoff started a Men’s Group while he was ‘inside,’ with 5 or 6 other inmates who gathered regularly to read the Bible. The Men’s Group continues on the ‘outside,’ with new members joining each week.
Looking at his tough exterior, it’s hard to imagine this ex-serial offender has undergone an incredible transformation on the inside. But Geoff’s family testify to the fact that he is a genuinely changed man. His eldest daughter, once embarrassed by her dad, now sits beside him in church, alongside her sister. Their relationships healed, their family restored.
People like Geoff are the reason that Inside Out Prison Chaplaincy exists. We understand that only a genuine encounter with Jesus can truly transform a Prisoner from the inside out.
To find out more about the work of Inside Out Prison Chaplaincy, visit InsideOutChaplaincy.org.au
*Geoff’s name has been changed to protect his privacy
Photo credit: aileysherriephotography.com