In the final week of a Change on the Inside course, inmates are given the opportunity to present a speech about what they have learned.
Juan*, a participant in the course, walked in with a bomber jacket. As he took to the front of the room, he shed the jacket to reveal a t-shirt with words stuck on with sticky tape. These were negative words, character qualities he saw in himself when he began the course. Brian, the course facilitator, had encouraged the men to consider who they are and where they are going. This had sparked some initial discouragement for Juan.
As the weeks rolled by, Juan explained, Change on the Inside participants were encouraged to think about a range of character qualities. Juan shed his shirt of negativity. Underneath he revealed a second t-shirt, this time plastered with positive attributes.
“I realised I do have forgiveness in me. I do have kindness in me. I do have patience in me,” he said. The room erupted with tears.
“I’m not going to be just a pew sitter anymore. I’m going to be a living epistle.”
Ali* was a very warm, jovial man in the group. Having grown up in a traditional muslim background, Ali was surprised at his interactions with Prison Fellowship.
“I never knew or had been taught before that you Christian guys have something to teach us too,” he said. “How to handle our anger and be kind, and how to be a good person. Now I realise I can work on these qualities and work on being a good person when I come out.”
After each sharing their stories, inmates met one-on-one with course facilitators, and were given the opportunity to pray together. The Christian participants in the course were especially grateful for this time. Being in jail has allowed many of these men more time to search out God.
“May the body of Christ keep in remembrance those who are in jail, that they will know Jesus in a deeper way,” inmate James* pleads.