I’ve been volunteering with Prison Fellowship since 2017 and as an assistant chaplain since 2021. I’ve had a wonderful time working with the team here! I consider it an incredible opportunity to be part of a world-wide team that is so well-established and well-organised.
It’s a very rewarding experience, working in prisons. The inmates who attend our chapel services are so encouraged to have the chance to fellowship and worship with other Christians. Each time they hear the Word of God, their desire to learn continues to grow – It’s very moving and energising for us as volunteers!
I’ve seen many inmates give their life to God over the years. One man in particular, Michael*, is from one of the Northern Territory islands. I met him many years ago in the community, and a few years later he found himself in prison. Michael began attending our chapel services each Saturday in the prison.
One day after Saturday chapel, I asked him what kept him coming to the services, and he replied, “Well, Phil, I came to prison not having anything to read. I looked and looked for something to read, and I only ever found a Bible. So, I began to read it. And I read and I read, and it began to change my heart. Over time it also began to change my life.”
We began to see that something in Michael was different. And a few weeks later after one of our church services, he called me aside. His face glowed with relief and peace as he told me, “Phil, I had a visit from my wife this week and she said that she had forgiven me.” He had already been transformed by God’s forgiveness, and now he had been forgiven by his wife!
When Michael finished his sentence he moved back home and helped to establish a local secondary school. More recently, Michael is a visiting elder to the prison in Darwin – he’s very well-respected in the prison.
There’s nothing like speaking to people who are desperate to hear what you’re saying. When we tell the stories of Jesus, you can see the guys connect with them. When you’re talking to these guys, they really want to hear what you’ve got to say. That’s a real blessing. Volunteering in prisons has been one of the highlights of my life!
The Lord bless you for your service.
Former prison chaplain and State Advisory Council member, SA/NT
After 5 years with Prison Fellowship, Phil is stepping down from his role to care for his wife. Phil joined the team as we were establishing a presence in the Darwin Correctional Centre for the first time, and it was God’s perfect timing. We will see Phil’s influence on our work for many years to come as he has helped so much in establishing the tone of care and love that the team has in that place. We will miss his gentle spirit and wisdom. It is our prayer that both Phil and Dorothy enjoy the pleasures that the NT provides in their retirement. – Ian Townsend
*Names have been changed