Raising kids in a loving environment, with support from family and friends is hard work. But imagine leaving your children behind to go to prison, or caring for your baby in your prison cell, or even giving birth behind bars? These are the stories of women who have done just that… with the support of their Prison Chaplain…
I was a prisoner of my own mind long before I received my 17 month jail sentence. Trapped by self-loathing and a sense of worthlessness.
The hardest part was saying goodbye to my three children and explaining to them why I had to go away. I lost custody of them and they weren’t allowed to stay in prison with me but they did visit. Every time we said goodbye, it broke my heart.
I was lonely, depressed and afraid.
Then I met the Prison Chaplains and everything changed. They hosted an Alpha Course and Sunday Chapel Services and they introduced me to Jesus. I realised my identity wasn’t based on what I’d done but on what he’s done for me.
Sitting in my prison cell, I’d never felt so free! I had a joy and peace I’d never experienced before.
I’ve been out of jail for six years now and I’ve finally regained custody of my children. I’ve started University studies and I regularly attend my local church, where I was baptised a couple of years ago.
My life would be so very different right now, if I hadn’t met Jesus in prison.
Kristy gave birth to her son in prison and he spent his first year behind bars with her.
She started bringing him to Bible Study, run by Prison Chaplain, Debbie Glasson. He played quietly for 2 to 3 hours while Kristy watched Christian movies, heard testimonies of lives transformed, immersed herself in the Bible and prayed with other prisoners.
Kristy became passionate in her pursuit of Jesus and her desire to know him more, regularly attending the prison Chapel Service and doing a written Bible Study in her cell.
She’s still young in her faith and since her release, Kristy has returned to prison a couple of times but she’s a work in progress. Debbie still catches up with her in the prison yard for prayer and Kristy is still growing in her faith, studying the Bible and pursuing God.
Amanda was pregnant when she was arrested. Her family had disowned her and she had no support from the outside.
Lonely and desperate, she started coming along to Alpha in prison, lead by Debbie Glasson. Amanda developed a genuine relationship with Jesus and regularly attended Sunday Chapel services.
With no family support, Amanda asked permission for Debbie to be present at the birth of her baby girl. It was such a special time – singing and praying together in the Delivery Room as they welcomed her baby girl together.
Sadly, due to the nature of her crimes, Amanda wasn’t allowed to keep her baby with her in prison and her children remain in Foster Care. She does have regular visits with them.
It’s been 5 years now since her release and she’s a regular at her local church, where Debbie had the great privilege of attending her Baptism service.
Amanda’s dark past is a distant memory and she looks forward to the future with confidence, thanks to the support of her local church and her Chaplain, Debbie.
*The names of these women have been changed to protect their identity