Connecting Through Fun, Learning Forgiveness
Maja has been a Prison Fellowship volunteer for nine years in Mary Hutchins Women’s Prison serving in the craft group, making Christmas Gingerbread Houses along with young volunteers, and Easter biscuits to share the good news.
What prompted you to become a Prison Fellowship Volunteer?
When my kids were young, I felt a calling to prison ministry, but I lived too far away from the nearest prison. Several years on, we moved house, opening a window of opportunity. I heard a talk at church about Prison Fellowship and was reminded of the first stirrings of wanting to do something in prison and I knew that this was God reminding me.
I like building relationships through fun things. I went to a Zumba class where the instructor mentioned she might take Zumba into prison. I just thought, ‘wow, perfect!’
The following week I offered to go with her. That was the open door. It was a fun way to connect with people. The Zumba group turned into a craft group. They know we’re Christians and they come in just for a relaxing environment. There are women who have no one to send cards to, but come anyway. We give them the space to just be there and within in a few weeks they often start to open up; other times it happens straight away. Sometimes it’s just about sitting, making cards, laughing, and chatting about life.
Maja – Prison Fellowship volunteer
How have you seen God working in this ministry?
One time there was a girl sitting by herself making cards on the floor. We started chatting about issues in life and how people deal with things – it was a very deep and meaningful conversation. I tell her that my responses come from a Christian perspective, and share my story. Her next picture she picked up was a nativity picture and she said, ‘look at that!’
I told her, ‘These things don’t just happen for no reason. I think that God wanted us to talk about this, He knows your situation and wants to help you.’
It’s that feeling where you know, God did that. We pray and keep doing what we do – but those are the signs that show us that God is saying, ‘I’m there, I’m working in people’s lives,’ and it’s making a difference.
God always provides another purpose for coming in; I’ve volunteered alongside a few different women. They’re always just the right person, they’re different to me, and this provides balance. It has also been a great stepping stone for new volunteers, who often move on to 1:1 mentoring or other areas of the prison ministry. Perhaps it gives them courage. It’s nicer when there’s two of you, you’ve got support and pray together before you go in. Sometimes there’s direct answers to prayer, or it may be longer term.
We pray specifically for healing of relationships within their families. Sometimes healing has come, not straight away, but the first step is taken when we start the conversation. That has been a fantastic answer to prayer. I believe it’s important for families to forgive and always love each other, no matter how bad the situation. If we choose God, we go the extra mile to keep healthy relationships. Forgiveness is so important. By having those conversations with inmates, I believe they can start the process of mending the brokenness and some have succeeded in doing so.