One of our long-serving volunteer prison chaplains, Myra, has shared an inspiring testimonial about how God is changing lives inside a Brisbane correctional facility:
When I first met James* it was on my rostered day to do four church services.
That day I asked, “Is there anyone who has never read the bible before?” Everyone put up their hands: not one man knew anything about the story I was about to speak on. I had never experienced this in my 15 years as a chaplain.
So, I explained what a parable was: an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. I explained the parable every step of the way, and the men identified with the lost son.
I asked another question, “Who has hit rock bottom?” Twenty-one hands went up in the air. All 21 men were still there at rock bottom.
Then came the part in the parable when the lost son realises he was at rock bottom. He went home in rags, his head bowed in shame. But the father was always waiting for his son to come home.
The challenge was put to the men that they could change and ask God for forgiveness. One of the men, James, asked me to visit him next time I came into the prison.
I visited James and was prepared to answer his questions. He was hungry to hear more about Jesus, so I visited him every Friday for the next few weeks.
I gave him forms to apply for Crossroads bible study. James received his first study kit and started it himself. He was very keen and if he did not understand something he wrote questions on the study book he sent back.
On one of my visits James accepted Jesus as his saviour.
I knew James was going to court on a certain date and possibly would be released. I asked God for his wisdom on how I could help James if he got out.
When a judge releases someone from prison, they have to be let out of jail that same day. I knew I had to find support for James, so I referred him to a former chaplain. Arrangements were made for the former chaplain to pick James up at the prison gates.
I also provided James with literature in anticipation of him being freed, which detailed where he could find support and meet with former prisoners like Gerald.
Years ago, Gerald was himself serving time in a correctional centre and is now a pastor who supports ex-prisoners.
James asked another chaplain where I was as he had lost the phone number he was to ring when he got out.
Meanwhile, I had a note on the page in my diary to visit James on my next duty day. I checked the roll and could not find James’ name, so I got a corrections officer to look up if he went to another prison.
James’ name was not listed, which means he had been set free. I do not know where James is now, but my prayer is God knows where he is and will keep him safe.
Chaplains stand by those in prison and tell them who Jesus is. The Holy Spirit does the rest.