The Change on the Inside team were excited. Although we couldn’t enter the prison during the COVID-19 lockdown, we could deliver a course online via a video link.
During the first session, excitement turned to disappointment and frustration when we encountered technical issues and were unable to connect all three online presenters with the prison, and left us feeling foolish in the process! After a futile 45 minutes, the team needed to abandon the session and let the guys go with the assurance we would try again the following week.
We ran trial practices throughout the week, determined not to have a repeat fiasco. The following week rolled around, and we got through! Before us were two rows of tables with four inmates in each row. Initially, we found it hard to engage with the guys via a screen, particularly those at the back. Making a relational connection required much more of a concerted effort, especially as it was difficult at times to hear their contributions. Over time we settled into a good routine, becoming more relaxed and finding the guys more and more engaged over the course of several weeks.
The men became increasingly confident and enthusiastic. Their desire to explore how they could ‘Change On The Inside’ seemed to open possibilities where previously had only existed resignation.
It became evident at the end of the program that the participants were actively engaged and encouraging of each other. The Change on the Inside program drew to a close with a time of honest reflection as each man delivered a summary of character traits he believed to be his strengths, and those he felt needed to be developed.
For each participant it was a time of genuine enthusiasm and hope. But as we look back, it is obvious that Josiah* was a man who stood out. With great courage, he modelled his final reflection on Godly traits found in the Bible and shared how he wanted to grow in wisdom.
The honesty of these men and their desire for change was a cry for the movement of the Holy Spirit in minds and hearts. And for Josiah, the cry was for the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit who has begun a ‘good work’. As presenters, we finished our privileged time with these men, reflecting with heightened awareness of our obligation to ongoing intercessory prayer.
We appeal to you too. Please don’t underestimate your part. Your ongoing prayer and support enables God’s Word to continue to change lives on the inside.