Ray grew up in a religious home, where life was about following rules, rather than pursuing God.
He harboured deep resentment toward his parents, particularly his father, who was renowned for his bad temper; flying off the handle at the slightest hint of disobedience. Ray swore never to become like him.
At 16, Ray walked away from home and lived on a beach when he couldn’t find anywhere else to live. He started taking drugs to blur the memories of his unhappy home. To his credit, he still managed to finish school.
But before graduating from high school, he’d already graduated to speed, ecstasy and alcohol.
Ray was very charismatic and walked into jobs in real estate, car sales and management. But as his career grew, so did his temper.
He re-established his relationship with his parents but his mother would taunt him, saying: “You’re just like your father,” when his temper took hold.
Over time, his anger turned to drug fuelled violence and eventually, one act of fury landed him at 12-year prison sentence.
On his second day ‘inside,’ Ray was approached by prison chaplains. He was surprised to find that they were regular blokes and talked about regular things.
Ray also met another prisoner, who was serving a life sentence. He was a hardened criminal and everyone was scared of him.
Ray watched his whole personality change after giving his life to Christ. Invited to chapel services, out of curiosity Ray went along. It was a decision that would change his life forever.
Prison chaplains were critical to Ray’s faith journey. They ran programs that assisted with inner healing, as well as hosting chapels, leading Bible studies and showing Christian movies.
All different denominations were represented, sharing the same message of salvation.
Chaplains showed him ‘The Way,’ so he could walk with God in relationship, rather than just following rules.
Ray has recently been released from prison, drug and alcohol free. His life has been transformed and he his filled with love and compassion towards others, just like his Father, in heaven.
Due to curfew and jurisdiction restrictions, going to church and bible study hasn’t been possible. But now, Ray is looking forward to ‘plugging in’ to a church community.
Ray says the verse that sustained him during years in prison was Psalm 27:13: “I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living.”