Every day, we hear stories about the difference Inside Out Prison Chaplaincy’s volunteer prison chaplains are making in the lives of people inside correctional centres who were feeling hopeless, helpless and alone.
They include people like Angela*, who had to leave her three children behind when she went to prison. She was lonely, depressed and afraid.
“Then I met the prison chaplains and everything changed,” Angela said. “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.”
When Leigh served his prison sentence for drug trafficking, there were no illicit substances or parties to distract him from the emptiness he felt inside.
Somehow, as if driven by a force not his own, Leigh got up out of bed, walked through the prison to the guards and said, “I need to see a chaplain.” Leigh recalls that as he spoke to the prison chaplains, he “felt a weight lift from my shoulders and a peace started to warm my heart”.
Jake* found freedom ‘inside’ while serving a prison sentence for drug trafficking. “I can honestly say that going to prison was the best thing that could have ever happened to me because it was inside those prison walls that I found salvation,” Jake said.
Following a manslaughter conviction, Alex* felt hopeless whilst in prison, but when a prison chaplain approached him, he started asking questions and accepted a Bible.
“Chaplains are amazing people. They are always there for encouragement,” Alex said. “Loving prisoners where they are, that is a measure of Christ. We’re all the same in God’s eyes.”
And after Mick’s* failed suicide attempt while serving his prison sentence, two prison chaplains visited him and handed him a Bible. They continued to visit Mick every week, bringing encouragement, a sense of direction and hope.
These are just some of the stories we hear every day about lives impacted by prison chaplains. There are now many ex-prisoners serving in their local churches and working in ministry on the ‘outside’ because of the words of life spoken over them by prison chaplains.
* Names have been changed and a stock image used.