A privileged upbringing, a Catholic education and a promising career don’t sound like any part of a prisoner’s story, but that’s just how Jasmine’s story begins.
Growing up the daughter of a Chinese mother and Australian father, Jasmine* attended a prestigious Catholic school, where she embraced ‘religion’ but never had the opportunity to embrace a relationship with God.
She went on to university, where she studied Arts and Law. Following a sexual assault, she started experimenting with recreational drugs.
Shortly afterwards, Jasmine was married and pregnant with her son. They moved abroad for her husband’s work when her son was three but their marriage dissolved. Her husband cancelled Jasmine’s spousal visa, so she was forced to return to Australia without her son. This was devastating for Jasmine.
To numb the pain, her casual cocaine use escalated to ice and finally intravenous drug addiction, and she floated from one bad relationship to another.
Her son was 13 when he returned to Australia, and she knew she needed to end her addiction to be the mother she always wanted to be, but she just couldn’t find freedom from addiction on her own. She hit rock bottom, struggled with suicidal thoughts and started to yearn for God.
When her house was raided by police, it changed the trajectory of her life. Police found two guns and 2.5 ounces of meth amphetamine. She knew she was going to jail.
Jasmine asked the officers if she could pray before she was led away. She fell to her knees and said the Lord’s Prayer, then the police put her in handcuffs and walked her out the door and into the waiting police car.
A strange peace fell over her as she entered prison, and when she heard about chaplains, she started meeting with them regularly and attending chapel services.
One day, one of the chaplains looked her in the eye and spoke Jeremiah 29:11 over her:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
From that moment, Jasmine knew everything was going to be okay. She finally learned about the bible and God. She read the entire bible from cover-to-cover.
Then, on her son’s birthday, Jasmine received the news that her nephew had died in tragic circumstances. She couldn’t attend the funeral and felt utterly devastated. Chaplains arranged a memorial service for her in the prison chapel so she could say goodbye. It was a moment of humanity in an otherwise dark place.
Today, Jasmine has been ‘outside’ of prison for four years. She’s about to complete her third year of a Bachelor of Theology and wants to be involved in ministry, supporting ex-prisoners once they leave jail to help break the cycle of crime, and to continue the good work of prison chaplains. Her son also lives with her now and he’s studying to be a paramedic.
Jasmine said: “Whilst I’m not completely sure what lies ahead, I know with absolute confidence that now I have created a new foundation with Christ, He will keep my paths straight.”
* Name has been changed and a stock image used