Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. ‘Quick, get up’. And the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. Acts 12 5-7
Christine is a prison officer. She wears the uniform, she maintains security, she manages her caseload of individual prisoners, she collaborates with colleagues…and she prays. She prays for the men she cares for. She prays outside their cell doors as she walks the wing. Inside one of those cells was Kenny, more than 20 years into a life sentence, stuck in addiction, refusing progress year after year. As she prayed silently night after night and day after day, Christine began to see small changes in Kenny. The way he interacted with her, as an officer, became less aggressive. The windows of possibility began to become a little more transparent in his mind. He began to talk about coming off drugs. And then suddenly he was transferred from one prison to another and Christine’s opportunity to see him day to day was over. She contacted Connect to Community and asked us to follow him up in his new prison.
When we visited Kenny, he was fascinated that a prison officer was taking such personal interest in him, and he responded to an invite to ‘make a new start’ in his new prison setting and to attend Prison Fellowship. A volunteer started to visit Kenny once a week to read the Bible with him. A few months later Kenny was clean of all drug use for the first time in more than 20 years. Shortly after that, he started identifying himself as a Christian within Prison Fellowship, and then to fellow prisoners. Over the last few months Kenny has been tested in the wider community with a daily work placement, has proved himself day after day and impressed his employer with his attitude and character. Kenny is now months away from a probable release. The journey started with a prison officer’s prayers. Hope within a prison can arise when the church seeks God to come and do something new in an individual life.
Lord God, hear us as we pray for the staff of our prisons, who in word and action, may bring hope and light into darkness and despair. Strengthen all those who recognise that they work for you, within our prisons. Amen