Because of your support, Prison Fellowship volunteers have over 86,000 meaningful conversations with inmates each year. For many of the men and women in prison, having someone who listens to them is often the first step in their journey to a better life and, in some cases, it can be the first step to a life committed to the Lord.
When Allan Cowburn was nine years of age he gave his life to Jesus for the first time. But he turned away from God when he was 12. He got involved in drugs and crime. When he was 18, he and a co-offender killed someone.
When he was arrested, Allan begged God out of fear, “God, get me out of this and I’ll surrender to you.” Allan was still sentenced to twelve years in prison, and returned to drugs while inside.
Allan first met Prison Fellowship in prison in Townsville. A Prison Fellowship chaplain would come in once a week, walking around each unit and chatting to inmates.
“This was good because it would always remind you basically that someone is there to listen, someone is there to help out. And they would know your family. If there was a death in the family they were always there to encourage and mentor you and work through that situation. They’d even sit in the courtroom with you as an emotional and spiritual support in that regard,” said Allan.
At that stage in Allan’s life he believed in God but he had also turned away from God.
Six years into his sentence, Allan was sitting with a young prisoner who was a Christian. He read a poem to Allan. “I felt the Holy Spirit say to me, ‘Allan, you are at the crossroad of your life. Choose life or choose death.’ With tears in my eyes, I chose God and I made it a real decision.”
“When I came back to God, I no longer ran away from the chaplain. It was good because they would certainly help, and give books, or if you needed a Bible, or needed some answers,” said Allan.
After Allan got out of jail, he joined the Garden City Church, which later became Hillsong Brisbane. As part of their community outreach, Allan was asked to mentor ex-prisoners. In that role he again contacted Prison Fellowship.
Allan began to attend a Bible College, where he wrote and published three books. One was called The Journey Out, telling his personal journey, including his time in jail. Prison Fellowship promoted that resource and helped place the book in prisons. The book was also used by Prison Fellowship volunteers to walk around the prison and give the book to inmates.
Today Allan is the Senior Pastor at New Life Centre Mandubbera, central Queensland. He is married with two children aged 12 and 11.
“I had to jump a few hurdles to get to where I am today. And it was only by the grace of God that I am here. As the Word says, he who has been forgiven much forgives much. I know I can demonstrate a lot of grace to people, and I do,” said Allan.
Thank you for your part in helping people like Allan toward life transformation!