For most people in Darwin, it was a Saturday like any other. To Reuben*, an inmate at Darwin Correctional Centre, Saturday 11th November was the start of a new era.
Early in the morning, a small team of Prison Fellowship volunteers sat nervously in a prison meeting room. It was to be their first chapel service at Darwin Prison. The air was heavy with anticipation as chairs were placed in a circle, Bibles laid out, and the air-conditioner turned ON! (An important factor in the Darwin heat!) Four ordinary Christian men and women, each with their own story and church background, sat together to pray for the men with whom they were about to meet.
At the appointed time, the inmates arrived. These ten men enjoyed tea and coffee before joining in with some songs and prayer.
“Do you believe God can love you even if you have done many bad things?” Nadia, Prison Fellowship chaplain, asked the inmates. All eyes were fixed on her as she expounded the Good News of Jesus from Romans 5:6-11 to her captivated audience. The discussion between inmates and the Prison Fellowship team was amazing. Before they knew it, two hours had passed and the gathering had to disperse!
As the men parted ways, Prison Fellowship volunteer Victor asked an inmate, “Do you want us to come back again?”
A resounding chorus of “YES!” rose from the prisoners. As he left, Reuben, one of the inmates, had a confession to make. He whispered to Victor, “I actually just came for the air-conditioning… but I’m glad I came. I got to hear the Good News for the first time!”
All the team went home praising God for His presence in the chapel service and were aware that this was just the beginning as many of the men and women in Darwin will say “YES” to the work of His Holy Spirit at the Top End of the land down under.
These services have since been growing, too! At the service on 13th January, 24 inmates came to hear the Gospel and enjoy community with Prison Fellowship volunteers.