Tom Carr reflects on the recent baptism of 4 inmates after completing The Prisoner’s Journey course.
Almost four months ago, in December 2021, in the midst of COVID lockdowns and a fairly grim end to the year, something quite amazing happened. I was invited to speak and present graduation certificates for 14 men who had just completed The Prisoner’s Journey course at a minimum security correctional centre in New South Wales. That in itself was a wonderful encouragement! However, in addition to this, four of the graduates, Rick*, David*, Milo*, and Benny*, were also committing their lives to Jesus in baptism!
Three things about this baptism struck me in particular.
Firstly, how unyielding the chaplain was in his expression of the significance of baptism as these men committed their lives to Christ. He made sure they all knew that this was not a small undertaking, but rather would change everything for them. He spoke from the Bible with great care and confidence. Rick, David, Milo, and Benny, the other ten graduates, and a handful of other inmates who were present, were captivated and respectfully silent through the whole talk. Praise God for the wonderfully Godly chaplains He has provided to care for His children on the inside!
Secondly, as they were baptised one at a time, Rick, David, Milo, and Benny all expressed such joy and relief. They congratulated each other as though they had won Olympic gold, and each had a genuine sense of renewed hope, far more so than anyone I have ever seen being baptised before.
Finally, I was struck by the response of the other inmates, some of whom were Christians and others not. Each and every one of them expressed real joy for the four men, not just for the occasion, but for their rebirth as new men. It was as if these four had been released from prison, which of course metaphorically they had!
I was reminded that this change, not the graduation, is the real power of The Prisoner’s Journey. The teaching is real and the transformation is real. The idea that people are going into prison with little or no hope in their lives, but are coming out reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus is miraculous, to say the least.
Another incredible element of this particular instance of The Prisoner’s Journey, is how well-regarded it was in the prison. Some of the participants were inmates who had been transferred before they could complete the course at their previous prison. Some were inmates who had heard about the course from other inmates who had been deeply affected by it. And even more powerfully, this course was co-facilitated by an inmate who had completed the course once before and wanted to be a part of it again.
This is the real fruit of the support you give to Prison Fellowship, whether it be through prayer, financial support, or volunteering – it all points to the cross of Christ and grows disciples.
*Names have been changed
Volunteer Coordinator, NSW/ACT