British Comedian, Ricky Gervais recently tweeted: ‘If all the Atheists & Agnostics left America, they’d lose 93% of The National Academy of Sciences & less than 1% of the prison population.’
Perhaps the same could be said of Australia.
While so many spend their time trying to disprove God’s existence, it’s not until our darkest moment that we’re forced to face the truth: If God isn’t real, then nothing matters… but if He is real, that’s all that matters.
Jake’s story began like so many others… he enjoyed a happy, regular childhood but in high school, he started mixing with the wrong crowd and eventually got involved with bikie gangs and drugs.
‘I did what I wanted, when I wanted and I didn’t care who got hurt, including my loved ones.’
Finally, Jake was arrested for drug trafficking – and spent 6 months in prison awaiting bail. That’s where he met a Prison Chaplain.
Over time, the chaplain told Jake some things about faith that he didn’t know. For the first time, he heard the message of the gospel: love, forgiveness and serving others.
From the moment he accepted Jesus into his life, amazing things started to happen. Miraculously, Jake was granted bail. Even his lawyers had believed it would be impossible due to the circumstances surrounding his crime.
Over the next two years, while he was waiting for his trial, Jake joined a church, created a circle of Christian friends and he began to grow spiritually.
He was sentenced to 2 ½ years.
During his time in prison, Jake studied the bible, fellowshipped with other Christians, attended regular bible studies and he was able to encourage others. Once a drug dealer, Jake had actually become a Godly example to his fellow inmates. Many of the non-believers inside would ask the Christian inmates: ‘Tell us about this peace you have. How is it that you have this love for others? This forgiveness?’
Their answer was always ‘ít’s not us… it’s the Holy Spirit that gives us this.’ Many prisoners were brought to the Lord just because of the way the Christian prisoners conducted themselves.
During the latter part of his sentence, Jake was moved to a prison farm where he met a number of prisoners who were strong in their faith and he really learnt during that time that fellowship with other believers is essential for Christian growth. ‘We encourage each other and build each other up and we draw closer to God as we do that.’
‘I can honestly say that going to prison was the best thing that could have ever happened to me because it was inside those prison walls that I found salvation.’
The Prison Chaplains played a major role in Jake’s learning and growing as they encouraged him, ministered the word to him, prayed with him and did so much to support him in his faith journey while he was inside.
Jake is now working on a program to help prisoners (like he was), integrate back into society… into accommodation, into their local church and into the workforce. Some other ex-prisoners and Prison Chaplains are helping to make this program a reality.
Today, Jake has completed his Diploma in Workplace Health & Safety, he’s connected into his local church and he’s looking forward to the future.
Jake’s words are something we should all live by: ‘Life at its best is a life lived for God and serving Him. There is no substitute. God has big things planned for me.’
(Jake’s real name has been suppressed to protect his identity)