A rich time of inspiration and fellowship awaited all participants at the recent Prison Fellowship Queensland Conference. The day began with ‘old and new’ chaplains coming together to listen to our State Manager, Graham Hembrow, speak about the new programs being introduced. Change on the Inside will soon begin at Southern Queensland Correctional Centre. The Prisoner’s Journey, a program based on the Gospel of Mark, will subsequently follow. Another exciting program being introduced by PFA-Q this year is the post-release program, T24, where an inmate is linked to a mentor before release to aid in the transition to life outside prison. As chaplains, we were greatly encouraged to hear about these innovative programs being gradually introduced into correctional centres, as we know the valuable benefits they will provide for the men and women who partake in them.
We were all heartened to hear Graham report that PFA-Q now has 40 chaplains – up from 23 – which is a significant increase and can only enhance and strengthen the ministry of Prison Fellowship in Queensland. The Conference presented an ideal time for the new chaplains to be introduced and welcomed ‘into the fold’ and a time of lively and uplifting fellowship was experienced by all.
All the volunteers joined us after lunch and this was again a time for renewed friendships and meeting new faces. We were all inspired as Glen Fairweather, our National General Manager, shared about the life of Charles Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship. Today Prison Fellowship International has grown to 50,000 – 60,000 volunteers globally!
The evening session saw church pastors and others who were interested in exploring involvement with Prison Fellowship join us for some wonderful worship and further inspiration. The music was lead by Alan Cann from the ‘Second Chance Project’ and we were blessed by listening to Pastor Glen Cochrane who gave an excellent address on the Biblical mandate for prison ministry. Chaplains and fellow volunteers also shared wonderful stories about prisoners who had been transformed by this ministry.
I could say so much more about this Conference, but suffice to say that I left spiritually refreshed and grateful to God that I am a part of Prison Fellowship Australia – a correctional centre ministry whose primary purpose is to remember and care for the men and women ‘inside’ and their families.