From Prison to the Mission Field
Shane grew up in a Christian home and had moments as a boy where he loved God. However, as a teenager, he wandered away.
Circumstances caused Shane to question God and he headed off into the party lifestyle whilst in high school and university, which included taking, producing and selling drugs to support his very expensive habit. From the age of 19 to 24, Shane spent $1,000 to $3,000 a day to support his drug habits.
“I always believed that God was real, but I also believed that all you had to do was pray a ‘sinner’s prayer’ before you died and you got to heaven. It didn’t actually make any difference before you get to heaven, right? It’s not like God was here now to help.”
On January 16, 2002, Shane found himself in a jail cell. He thought, “What am I going to say to the judge? I knew that the next day I was going to get sentenced and I also knew that I couldn’t get away with it. It didn’t matter what I said, I was going to jail for a long time.
“God spoke to me and said, ‘How would you like to be standing before me on the judgement day trying to come up with an excuse for hell?’
“It was then that the reality of eternity hit me. What if I didn’t get to say the sinner’s prayer before I died? What if, all of a sudden, I was standing before the Creator, and it’s too late to go back and change. Fear of the judgement moment came on me; in particular was a fear of God and I did not want to spend eternity in hell, so I surrendered in my heart. I chose to do the ‘Christian thing’, whatever that looks like.”
That year, Shane was saved in prison. His faith was strengthened through his connection with Prison Fellowship and other ministries holding a Sunday Service and Bible studies.
“I really appreciate ministries like Prison Fellowship. I started getting into that church service, I got a Bible, started reading it day by day. I met love in a jail cell that day because my life started to turn around and all the addictions just broke off me. I spent 20.5 months in prison.
“In the past I’ve been to 12 different rehab centres trying to break free from addictions; I now have the power to resist temptation.
Now, Shane is married with eight children.
“God has blessed me with an amazing family. I went to university, did a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering went to work for Boeing Australia for a season and then I went back and was doing my PhD in robotics and automation.
I was about halfway through that when God called me to the mission field, so I didn’t actually finish my PhD. I just took a Master’s degree for the research I had done, and since 2010 I’ve been a full-time missionary.”
Shane Degen is the founder and CEO of Jesus Loves Australia and now is focused on a Global mission field under “Jesus Loves Nations”, soon to be moving to the USA to start “Jesus Loves America”.
“I’m really grateful for ministries like Prison Fellowship and the various other Christian organisations that are in prison because even after I’d made that first decision for Jesus, it was because of the chaplains and those Bible studies and the Sunday morning services that I really got off to a good start in those years. There was amazing wisdom the counsellors and chaplains had to help me because my life was still a mess.”
Shane with his family