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‘I’m coming back to you, Lord’ 

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Why Angelo’s own experience made him passionate about serving inmates

My name is Angelo and it’s my joy to support inmates and their families through Prison Fellowship’s court support program in Perth. 

There’s a hunger for the Lord within the people I meet. They need the Word. They need to know God. Each time I go to the court, I spend some time observing the people around me. I try to put myself in their shoes. I pray, and then if I feel God’s prompting, I will approach someone and offer my support. 

That’s how I met Rachel and Nico*. Carrying their baby into the foyer, they looked deflated and worried as they expected Nico to be locked up at his sentencing that day. After a brief conversation, I offered to pray for them. They both looked relieved and were very happy for me to pray. Afterwards, I looked up and they were both crying. They couldn’t stop because the Lord was working, I could feel it. 

As I stood with them ready to say my goodbyes, Rachel and Nico asked me to accompany them into the courthouse. As I waited for the sentencing to begin I prayed and said, ‘Father, you go before this couple right now, you go before this man and you stand and cover him.’ Then, when Nico stood up to give his statement, he turned and pointed to me. He said to the room, ‘That man there, he helped me, he prayed for me, and now I feel differently. I’m going to go to rehab.’ Instead of sentencing Nico, the judge gave him one month to prove that he was a changed man, and Nico jumped up and down excitedly, thanking me. I laughed and said, ‘Don’t thank me – thank the Lord! I’ll make it my duty to visit you.’ I stayed in touch with them and they appear to be doing much better now. Nico kept his word and went to rehab, and has upheld his good-behaviour bond. It’s so fantastic! He gets to stay at home with his family and his little baby! 

I feel so overjoyed that God works through me. I can feel the Holy Spirit and I know the Lord is working. That’s why I go to the court each week. I go to encourage those I meet and to share God’s love with them. The Holy Spirit moves before I do, and I know that just one word can do a whole lot. Maybe they need mentoring, or maybe they need counselling. Maybe they just need to know that someone is praying for them. All I can say is, God is in full control! 

Some of the people I talk to at the courts are going through a divorce, some are going through other trials. Whether we find ourselves in a courtroom or not, we are all going to face trials in our lives, we’re all going to face heavy things. My own experience has taught me how important it is to have the support of other people. I was broken once, but I got mended again, God gave me my life back. 

I have always considered myself a Christian, but sometimes you get a taste of what the world is like. That’s what happened to me a few years ago – I backslid. I was broken down and I thought that drugs and alcohol could solve my problem. But eventually, I came to my senses. I asked myself, ‘Who is my helper? Who is my help in the time of trials?’ I finally understood that God was all I could depend on, nobody else. I didn’t look to the left, nor to the right. I just put my foot down and I said, ‘That’s it! I’m going to be serving my God. I’m coming back to you, Lord.’ And so, I admitted myself to a rehabilitation facility, where, with the help of the guys there, I found a solid foundation. I thought I was a Christian before I went to rehab, but now I’m changed. I’m a new man, a new creation for God – it brought me back to life.

Back at home in South Africa when I was a kid, I used to go out with my dad to give food to the people who didn’t have any. These people had no clothes and some had flies all over them. When they saw my dad’s car they all came running – they knew my dad by his kind acts. Seeing these people pained my heart. One time, my mum bought me a new pair of shoes. Without telling her, I took them and I went and gave them to the people. I don’t think she was very happy about that. But I felt that it was the right thing to do. That’s how my yearning to help other people started in my heart. I can’t walk past a person in need and not help them. If I don’t have anything on me, I’ll pray for them, or I’ll buy them something, whatever it costs. 

When I came back to God, it was like I had finally found my path, my right path. I knew my direction in life: to work with people experiencing the same trials I did. I prayed and prayed, and the Lord moved mightily. Eventually I met Steve McKinnon, the State Manager for Western Australia, and I went along to one of the volunteer information sessions. I didn’t know much about court support, but I was convinced that this was where God wanted me to be. My heart was so excited to start helping other people! It was such a joy! 

I feel my faith is much stronger now than it ever was. Volunteering really encourages me, it makes me stronger. My plan now is to spend as much time as I can volunteering with Prison Fellowship, because I feel that it’s what God wants me to do. Each morning when I wake up, I remind myself to thank the Lord for what He has done for me. I’m very excited because of what the Lord has done in my life. Our God is a powerful miracle-working God! 

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