Some prison visitors require commitment and determination just to get there. Dennis is one such visitor. He visits one of South Australia’s regional prisons only once every 3 months due to the distance. He is committed to this task, as there are few Christian people who visit, and, with the local Salvation Army captain retiring recently, attendances that got as high as 15 inmates at a church service have fallen away. Getting there matters!
Dennis makes these visits so that he can encourage all these men, but there is one inmate he makes sure that he takes the time to encourage and support, because God has plans for this man to change the lives of other inmates while they are on the inside.
Personal troubles tormented Anthony* as he continued to resist God. Things became so desperate that he tried to take his own life. Unsuccessful, Anthony passed out during the attempt. As he regained consciousness he asked God in desperation, “What do you want me to do?”
Anthony was convinced he had to find a Bible. When he eventually found one, he opened the cover of the Bible. Inside was written his home address! Coincidence? Perhaps not… Evidently the former owner of the Bible had previously lived at the same address as Anthony and had given this Bible away. Anthony recognised this as a clear sign that God was speaking directly to him of His love, concern, and purpose for his life.
Acts 20:35 – “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
Since this momentous experience Anthony has accepted Jesus as his Lord and Saviour, and is now committed to talking with other inmates so that they might have a relationship with Jesus as well. He asks God whom he should approach and whom he shouldn’t.
Every time Dennis visits Anthony, he has another story of the amazing opportunities he gets to pray for people. One such story was the time he prayed for a fellow inmate who had a methamphetamine addiction, and, after he prayed for release from the power of the drug for that inmate, the addiction disappeared!
Dennis knows God is making a difference in that prison even though he doesn’t get to visit more often. He considers it vital that he continues to visit, as God has set aside an important task for him in this place. Dennis has a role in supporting, mentoring, meeting with inmates, and praying with them. Most importantly, he is living evidence to those inmates that people outside still care – and that God cares.