In the Northern Territory, 86% of adult inmates and 96% of youth prisoners are Indigenous. However, only 27% of Northern Territorians are Aboriginal.

Chester, an Indigenous man from the Ngarrindjeri tribe in South Australia, has been in and out of prison over and over. One day, Chester was assaulted with a hammer. He lost 30% of his skull. He was on life support, “I was knocked out cold for 5 weeks. I was in a pretty bad way. The family was constantly called in to say goodbye to me.” Somehow Chester made it through, began rehabilitation, and was invited to church. “I was alcoholic, used to smoke drugs, shoot up speed, get grams and shoot them up my arms. When I went out to this church, I smoked some tobacco… it triggered a seizure in me and I went to hospital.”

Upon returning to church, Chester received prayer and encountered Jesus.

“I felt warmth come into me and I was broken from alcohol, speed, drugs. The minister said, ‘You won’t touch that stuff again,’ and I didn’t. There was no withdrawal; it was gone, straight away.”

Chester now plans to become involved in prison ministry, saying, “The Lord has put me here.”

Chester’s faith journey happened through the support of other Christians who were there for him along the way. Without them, Chester says he would be dead or back in prison.

Prison Fellowship can walk alongside inmates. We can show them compassion no matter where they’re at. We can accept them as they are. It is about walking as Jesus walked and loving as Jesus loved.

“They don’t need mercy and pity visits,” Chester says, “they’re inside because they’re convicts. It is to give them a light… When you get locked up, you’re away from your homeland and away from your people… You just need some kind of hope.”

You can donate to the Darwin project, or volunteer to get involved in the program.