There are many paths into prison, but only one path to true freedom.
For Caleb*, his path was forged at home as a little boy, where his dad was into drugs and crime. And that meant other criminals regularly visiting their home to arrange deals. It’s where Caleb was raped and physically abused.
His mother who was also a victim of physical abuse, eventually fled. She tried taking Caleb and his little brother with her but she was intercepted and the boys were taken from her.
The boys were told that their mother was dead and were sent to live with their grandparents. Caleb grieved for his mum and had questions that remained unanswered until the day he stumbled across unopened letters from his mum.
By the time they were reunited, Caleb was suffering from PTSD, depression and borderline personality disorder. Angry, confused, and feeling alone, he turned to drugs as self-medication and became an addict at 11. He was desperate for love but didn’t know how to give or receive it.
At 13, he started selling marijuana to provide food and pay bills for his family. He didn’t enjoy it so he got two jobs: doing metal work by day and market research by night.
One night he was attacked, suffering a stab wound to his back and facial wounds from a broken glass bottle. He was unable to work for a number of weeks and his employer wouldn’t hold his job for him so he turned back to drug dealing.
Shortly after the birth of his son, Caleb’s house was raided. He checked himself into rehab, initially just to avoid jail. After three months he started to feel good. He experienced real love, with no strings attached and felt good in his own skin for the first time in his life.
When he was baptised, nothing could compare to the euphoric ‘high’ of being filled with the Holy Spirit. He walked around with new eyes and looked at everything differently.
He gave himself over to God – well, 90% of himself. There was this one area of this life, his finances, that he couldn’t trust to anyone – not even God.
He would go to church Sunday morning, then hit the streets drug dealing in the afternoon. He descended into the dark underworld of drugs and crime and he was arrested again. This time, he knew he was going to prison.
He was sentenced and spent three years behind bars. Straight away, he realised his mistake; he had given God everything – except his finances. He was trying to run that part of his life the way he wanted and he’d made a mess of it. As soon as he decided to give that 10% of himself back to God the blessings started pouring in.
From the moment of sentencing, Prison Chaplains were there for him offering prayer, support and a listening ear without judgement. For the first time in his life Caleb was surrounded by positive role models with no strings attached… in prison, of all places. The Chaplains were there for him almost every day, even on special days like Christmas and Easter when no one likes to be alone.
Jail is the frontline of spiritual warfare. You can learn more about crime and study in the school of criminology, learning from experts, or you can choose to work on yourself and spend time with people who will help you escape the cycle of crime. Caleb chose the latter.
He opened a church in his block starting with four people. After two months over 45 prisoners were attending – more than half his block. He also started studying theology.
He could see God’s hand on his life, including his finances, at every turn. As soon as he came out of jail he was offered work. There was no need to turn to drugs for provision – God provides.
Today, Caleb is a Personal Trainer teaching others how to make good life choices and avoid drugs and alcohol. And he is an active member of his local church, where he was welcomed with open arms despite his dark past.
“Chaplains are life givers. I now have the opportunity to live the life I’ve always wanted to live.”
*Not his real name