“I have spent a lot of time in prison, but I have always left on the same day and gone home.”
I started visiting prisons over twenty years ago. A chaplain had asked some people from our church to come and help lead a service on a Sunday afternoon. I put my hand up and volunteered, my journey began.
God gave me a sense of love and a sense of compassion for the people I met in prison. He also gave me a sense of urgency as well. I just knew that I had to be there for them.
To be honest, I do not think everyone is called to work in prisons. Sitting and listening without judgement as someone goes through their life story is hard. Sitting and being there for someone who is withdrawing is hard. It is a messy business on every level.
But, I do believe we are all called to do something.
“When someone is in prison something crucial is taken away from them, their liberty.”
When someone is in prison something crucial is taken away from them, their liberty. This ability to have agency,
to be creative, to take full responsibility for their life is part of God’s design for each of us, and when someone comes out of prison we all can help restore that liberty to them.
I have seen many men leave prison with a full-hearted faith in God and yet they struggle to take up the mantle of life. They simply cannot recover that liberty on their own. As the church, as the body of Christ, we can create spaces and places where these men can rediscover their freedom and build productive lives that honour God.
After twenty years of this ministry I believe this is a job we are all called to do, whether we have ever set foot inside a prison or not. God wants to see people walking in freedom together, and He delights when we open our lives to each other.