Close this search box.
Stories of hope

“When you are ready, take my hand and I will walk with you.” — Philip’s* life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ in a prison cell.

Share this story

When I was a child, I was abused by a family member and I never told anyone about it. I carried shame and embarrassment all through my life. As a teenager I got involved in petty crime, copious amounts of drugs and alcohol, and I was always hanging out with the “wrong crowd”. Let me add, I had never talked of God at this time in my life.

By my late teens, I had already been in Residential Detention Centres for young boys and men. To me, this was an opportunity to learn more about crime and get deeper into that circle of people. I had started going to nightclubs, and with more drugs and alcohol around me I kept burying my emotions and the impact of my childhood abuse. It didn’t take long for me to become violent towards other people. My victims, generally family members and friends, tried to make me see the damage I was doing to myself and to everyone around me. But I didn’t listen to them. One by one they all dropped away… or more to the point, I pushed them away.

Let me add, I had still never talked of God in my life.

Eventually, I left everything behind and headed for a fresh start in a different city. I thought that if I left everything behind me, I could start a new life. But that didn’t happen and I was stuck in a constant cycle of violence, robberies, drugs, and alcohol. 

In 2018 I was arrested and was facing a minimum of 3 years imprisonment. My wife was devastated as I had been keeping my destructive behaviour hidden from everyone around me, including her. At this point, I remember thinking, “Here I am on remand. I have finally done it, and I won’t be getting out of this. Someone please help me!” 

One night in prison, I stirred from my sleep as I saw a bright light come through the doorway. I assumed it was the guards doing their night rounds. But then a figure appeared and as he extended his hand to me, he said, “When you are ready, take my hand and I will walk with you.” As quickly as he appeared he was gone. 

I had just seen a vision of Jesus, surrounded by a beautiful white light, covered in a brilliant white robe! Well, this really spun me out! I tried to wake up my cellmate to see if he had seen anything, but he was dead to the world. I didn’t tell anyone about it except my wife. She said, “You have been given an opportunity to change your life.” But I didn’t see it that way, and I tried to forget the experience. 

My wife decided to move back to our home country, and I was planning to join her there once I was released from prison. But when I got out, I started making stupid decisions again and ended up in prison with a 15 month sentence. I didn’t get parole.

It was at this point that I started reflecting on my life. Everyone except my wife and my best friend had turned their back on me, and the embarrassment, shame, and guilt started to consume me again. I spent many nights crying and wondering why this was happening to me.

After a month in prison I decided to go to a chapel service. I don’t know why I chose to attend. I had never believed in God or cared for religion of any sort, yet at that moment, I felt drawn to go. In the service it felt like God was speaking to me, as if the sermon was about me. But how could that be? The preacher didn’t even know me!

I grabbed a Bible on the way out and took it back to my cell. What was I going to do with this? I didn’t even like reading, unless it was a comic. I found myself opening the Bible at random pages and reading them, when I had this incredible moment of clarity. “This is about me and the things I have done in my life to others,” I thought. I went to see the prison chaplain and spoke with him in depth about how I was feeling. He assured me that God was with me. 

From that time onwards, my attitude toward others became one of compassion, love, and understanding. My relationships with the other prisoners were more open. I started being honest with my wife for the first time in our 18-year marriage. I also reconnected with my father after 20 years of no contact. I truly believe this is the work of my God, and that God was leading my life to make change. 

Six months into my sentence, I accepted Jesus Christ as my saviour, and last year I was baptised!

During the rest of my sentence, I was fortunate to assist in leading fellow inmates through The Prisoner’s Journey program. It’s a great program that has given me a great understanding of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

I am now out of prison, and I’m still facing some challenges in my life. But I have handed all my worries over to God. So, I say to you all, wherever you are on your journey, tell Jesus you can’t do it by yourself anymore and he will surely say, “Take my hand.” 



*Names have been changed

Share this story