The vision of Prison Fellowship is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with prisoners and their families. Our work through The Prisoner’s Journey is a key vehicle to achieving this.
Based on the Gospel of Mark, the 8-session course ‘The Prisoner’s Journey’ invites participants to learn about who Jesus is, why He came to Earth, and what it means to follow him.
Written materials are complemented by a video series, hosted by a Maori ex-prisoner who used to lead a well-known outlaw motorcycle club.
This is not traditional teaching or preaching. It’s about putting the Gospel in front of inmates in a relatable way and giving them the chance to make up their own minds about Jesus.
Many come with questions about whether God could really love them. For those who choose to, they can accept an invitation to receive forgiveness and follow God.
Impact to date
Our relational and intentional ministry approach has generated warm reception within prisons to date.
Last year, 48 of these courses were held across Australia, resulting in many lives being transformed by forgiveness, hope, and renewed faith in God.
Working within prisons is unique, as the environment can be particularly challenging to prisoners wishing to engage more in Christian faith. There can be a lot of social pressure for a prisoner who chooses to follow Jesus.
In this environment, The Prisoner’s Journey offers a clear and structured progression for participants to grow in their understanding of faith, further developing their discipleship journey beyond the point of surrender and decision.
Through this course, prisoners are able to study Bible passages, watch videos, discuss, and draw their own conclusions about Jesus.
One participant expressed in the middle of the lesson on grace, “I’m afraid I’ll never be good enough for God because I turned my back on him.” After one of the later lessons, she warmly and tearfully thanked the course leaders for the newfound assurance that she had discovered and the realisation that her relationship with God could be restored.
Another participant said; “For the first time I learnt about Jesus and Christianity and I found the answer. I surrendered my life to him and left my old ways. I have forgiven those who have sinned against me. He gave me strength to endure my sentence despite how heavy my heart was or how dark the moment might be. Darkness fades with the morning and this hard time will pass. Nothing can defeat me. I know that God will break all the chains and He is holding me tight in the darkness and the morning will come soon.”
The Need for Outreach
Across Australia, prisoners can be considered one of the least reached groups, with inherent difficulties and barriers that can prevent them from accessing Christian ministry and opportunities to respond to the Gospel.
In our extensive experience working in prisons across Australia, we have found the majority of prisoners have an experience of emptiness. A sense of desperation, loneliness, and helplessness is common, and long-term prisoners in particular find that any positive relationships they had prior to their sentencing tend to decline over time, even with their children.
In spite of, or because of, these experiences, a continually high number of prisoners attend chapel services across Australian prisons. While chapel attendance demonstrates a clear interest in exploring faith, we have found that a personalised, more focussed relationship is needed to support prisoners, and many chapel attendees request further resources from Prison Fellowship.
With such significant demand for ministry and Christian resources, many prisoners experience a lengthy wait time to be matched with a course facilitator and to participate in The Prisoner’s Journey. If you are able, please consider donating to help expand this valuable work.
Specific Funding Needs
There is presently great need within Tasmanian prisons to further expand The Prisoner’s Journey. While our work in other states has been disrupted with COVID lockdowns, we are fortunate to have been back working inside Tasmanian prisons since October 2020.
Many requests continue to be made from prisoners wishing to engage with our volunteers following chapel services. If you are able to support, please consider donating to this valuable work so we can quickly meet the needs that continue to arise each week.
Course facilitators are trained by Prison Fellowship. Contact your State office for more details.
To support this course, donate here!