News from Kirkconnell Correctional Centre
An inmate I met a few years ago when he arrived at Kirkconnell Correctional Centre is such an encouragement.
He’d had some minimal contact with Church growing up (going along only because he was dragged a few times by his mum) and then as young man through a Christian neighbour he had been very impressed with, enough to even go along with him for a bit to his Church. But when his friend moved, so did his interest in God.
Instead, he vigorously pursued for decades the typical godless Aussie lifestyle – excessive pleasure, working glory, recklessly taking all of God’s blessings for granted, eventually committing a pretty serious crime, receiving a hefty sentence, and in the process burning most of his friends and family. All of a sudden he felt very alone.
But then he met another godly man, this time a cell mate who he noticed also read his Bible and honestly sought to live out its teaching, despite being in a seemingly godless place called gaol. This time it resonated how this inmate had a peace he knew nothing of when previously his lifestyle had been an effective camouflage. He started reading the Bible and attending a godly Christian Chapel service with this inmate – this time for the right reason. No surprise he soon gained the hope that only Jesus can give.
Coming to Kirkconnell, he has continued to lap up God’s word and grow in his faith, no more evident than when he was confronted with a major medical issue ending up in intensive care. He thought he was going to die and do that alone at Bathurst hospital, under guard, not knowing a soul. Then he remembered he was not alone as he faced such grim prospects. He knew Jesus was with him despite all his sin of the past. Instantaneously, ‘the peace that passes all understanding’, that Paul wrote about to the Philippians, was his.
Miraculously, only a week later, he was back at Kirkconnell and at a Chapel service, very keen to share his journey with the other inmates, very thankful that at just the time he was facing the very real possibility of death, he learnt we had been praying for him at the Chapel service. He rejoiced even more in how God had wonderfully answered not only his prayers, but ours too, not just the miraculous physical healing, but even more importantly, how he was spiritually well – knowing even more now how Jesus is with him no matter what, and that Jesus really had given him a new family.