Tina* knew, the moment she stepped into her prison cell, that her life needed to change. Her choices had brought her here and now she was choosing to find a new path. There was just one problem: she didn’t know where to start.
Tina didn’t have a support network, family or friends waiting to help her in, or out of prison. She realised, with a heavy heart, that she was all alone.
It was loneliness that led her to a chapel service one Sunday morning. She felt the heavy burden of addiction, rejection and hopelessness begin to fall from her shoulders as she stood, surrounded by other prisoners who all seemed to have a peace within that she had never experienced before.
The first thing she noticed about the prison chaplain at the front was her big, warm smile, and the way she spoke to each of the prisoners with such grace and humanity. It was something else Tina had never experienced before.
Tina listened intently as the chaplain spoke about God’s love and she knew that’s what she needed.
Change didn’t happen overnight. It was a gradual process of healing, forgiveness, release and finally… freedom. She had so many questions and prison chaplains were always happy to listen and to respond with patience and kindness.
In the loneliness of her cell, instead of thinking about her next ‘fix’, Tina started to pray. She had never been a reader but found herself opening the pages of a bible and she started reading at the book of John.
She read: “Every person entering Life, he brings into Light” (John 1: 9), and she knew that’s what was happening to her. The chaplains had led her in a prayer of salvation and she had felt the darkness fall away around her. The world gradually illuminated with a vibrant glow of hope.
Today, Tina is thriving in her local community after completing her prison sentence. She made the choice not to go back to her old life of drugs and crime and she is leading a bible study at her local church.
Tina is currently working as a cleaner but is enrolled to study counselling. She’d like to help others who, like herself, need to be brought out of darkness and into the light.
* Name has been changed