Frank* says God brought him back to prison. After meeting God in one of his earlier stints behind bars, Frank showed all the signs of a changed man. But the pressures of life outside found him surrounded by the old temptations of alcohol and other substances. While some people might be discouraged to see Frank back in prison, volunteer Andrew sees a man who has actually taken steps forward.
“In himself he recognises the change in his life,” Andrew says. “He used to have tattoos across his face that said awful things, but he’s gone and got them lasered off. The other day he lifted up his shirt to proudly show me that now he has ‘Jesus Christ is king’ on one side of his chest and ‘the Word made flesh’ on the other.”
Andrew knows that often the Christian walk has set-backs and mistakes, but that God’s grace doesn’t waver. He sees Frank’s progress and has hope for his future.
When asked what excites him about his future with Prison Fellowship, Andrew says he can’t wait to be part of developing more post-release support. “So often these guys say, ‘last time I was in prison…’ I want to jump in that gap. I want them to say, ‘this is the last time I will be in prison’. I’d love to be that support team for them.”
While post-release support has a great deal of challenges, Andrew is excited to see Prison Fellowship grow to be able to facilitate more of such support.
“I love Prison Fellowship. I have even adopted their statement of faith for myself, and I watch the videos about Chuck Colson every year.”
Sharing the good news of Jesus in prison has been impactful even for Andrew personally. “I feel equipped in the sense that you always see your weakness and need for God, but I had not even a scrap of fear visiting prison. I didn’t feel I had to learn how to go and mix with a prisoner. I love these guys so much I can’t wait to walk in those doors. I want to show them unjudgemental love, that what they have done doesn’t even come into my mind, and I see them how God sees them. It has made me appreciate even more the wonder of what Jesus did for us. I’ve lived quite a sheltered life, but this has opened my eyes to just how kind and merciful God is.”
Andrew is thankful for donors who support these relationships in prison. “Encourage them,” he says. “I know what it’s like to come to a big month of bills, but God is using Prison Fellowship donors in an amazing way. Keep it up. I am so thankful for Prison Fellowship and who they are, and give God all the praise for that.”
*Name has been changed