We’ve just added one word, but it changes everything… ‘Inside Out Prison Chaplaincy’ declares unashamedly who we are and what we do.
Our chaplains and mentors would say that they’re ordinary Christians, living out the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:36 (‘I was in prison and you visited me’).
They are ordinary Christians, making an extraordinary difference. They go where no one else can – inside our state’s prisons.
Last year, 30 of our volunteer chaplains spent over 5,000 hours in prison – sharing a compassionate listening ear to some of the most marginalized and feared people in our state; prisoners.
We recognize that the word ‘chaplaincy’ in Queensland invokes images of a federal schools program, and that’s not who we are. Our chaplains don’t go into playgrounds or classrooms.
They go ‘inside.’
Inside the razor wire, inside the caged walkways and exercise yards, inside the very bowels of our prisons – and there, they help people in their darkest hour discover redemption, healing and hope… indeed, true freedom.
William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, coined the phrase: “While men and women go in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight”. He was talking about the reality of prisons in the 18th century. He was talking about the carousel a prisoner rides – the ever revolving doors of recidivism.
Statistically speaking, if an 18 year old goes to prison, they will spend, on average, the next 22 years of their lives going in and out – in and out – and that will cost you and me – the tax payer – some 2 million dollars. Let alone the extra costs to our courts, police and insurance policies!
So we meet with people whilst they are inside and we recognize that any change, any lasting transformation, will have to begin whilst they’re inside – but it needs to continue when they’re out.
To this end, we find Christian mentors – everyday church folk – who are willing to provide Godly wisdom and compassionate care to people who are trying to figure out for themselves what it means to be a new creation in Christ and walk the path of Christian discipleship. Last year, 51 prisoners chose life in Christ.
So whether a prisoner is inside, or out, we’re there. We’re there demonstrating consistent pastoral care to those who really need not just to hear the gospel, but to be changed by it!
And to that end – our name, Inside Out Prison Chaplaincy encapsulates perfectly that truth. Change happens on the inside. Our attitudes, our minds, our hearts. That change is not easily visible as it is internal.
Yet, it’s visible too, in that we see the evidence of change, in a changed life. We see that lived out through a person’s words and actions.
I suppose that’s the genius of our name – the play on words – because everyone who has been changed by Jesus, knows that change happens from the inside, out.
We are Inside Out Prison Chaplaincy.