Joseph* is a friend of mine who is close to my heart. He’s an Aboriginal man who wants to make his life right, but while he’s on the streets he takes drugs and gets into mischief. He’d always ask after my family and over time I’d tell Joseph that he’d lost weight and that we should get something to eat but he wasn’t really interested.
I’d not see him for a few months and finally I’d see him and he’d say he’d been on a holiday which was always the code word for being locked up… But he looked good, he had some meat on his bones, his eyes looked clear and he was determined to do things better this time.
He said, “This time Ian, I won’t make the same mistakes”
But what chance did he really have?
Latest statistics released by the South Australian government state that 46% of the prison population will reoffend and be back in prison within 2 years of their release. Too many times I have met someone who’s come out of prison and looked better than when they went in, but they never wanted to talk about what happened while they were inside.
Many hundreds of men and women live day-to-day on the Inner streets of Adelaide, either sleeping rough, staying at an acquaintance’s for the night or not sleeping at all as they are scared at what may happen to them. Crime, assault, abuse, sexual or otherwise, is a lot more common within people living on the streets.
The role of Prison Fellowship in South Australia is to work with these men and women while they are in prison to change lives so that this number can be reduced and reoffending (recidivism) will come down.
Joseph is open to Jesus. He often says, “I believe in the Bible”, but I don’t think he has a relationship with our God yet.
It’s our challenge and the team of volunteers who go into our prisons to share our faith with him, encourage him and other prisoners to make positive changes in their lives. It’s my prayer that, in time, they find something better than the streets of Adelaide or a prison cell for them to rest their heads at night.
But when they fall, we’ll be there. Every time.
Two are better than one…. If they fall down his friend one can help the other up.
But pity those who fall and have no friend to help him up! Eccl. 4:9-10
Ian Townsend – Prison Fellowship SA/NT State Manager