Never Give Up - A story from Kirkconnell - Nov 2022
An inmate recently released shows the faithfulness of God. He became a Christian at Kariong Gaol about 5 years ago as a young Aboriginal man. When he turned up at Kirkconnell, he was keenly involved in Chapel and Bible Study and was released with great hopes for his future. I was able to introduce him to some Christians near where he was staying who met with him and he came along to Church. He was in regular work and seemed to be going well when I caught up with him a few times early in the piece. However, 6 months later, I heard he was back in gaol.
A year on, he turned up at Kirkconnell and when I heard he was back, I wondered how he would react when he saw me. He was definitely embarrassed but it was so heartening to hear him say he hadn’t given up on Jesus. He explained how he had gradually drifted in his faith as he read his Bible less and less and wasn’t in regular contact with Christians. He became distracted, especially when he got back with his ex-girlfriend which led to drug use and then he really lost it when she told him the child they had been expecting wasn’t his. Soon he was arrested, trying to support his growing drug use.
But now his faith started growing deeper as he reengaged with Chapel and Bible Study. He began facing up to why things had turned for the worse. He knew he had been tempting fate by neglecting reading his Bible and going regularly to Church. Mature Christian inmates also got alongside him and helped mentor a deeper faith. He soon realized that God had brought him back to gaol to get him closer to Him and to enable him to be stronger.
Now he could face disappointments that previously would have rocked his faith, learning more and more to trust God through it. Now he was prepared to stand up before his peers at NAIDOC Day celebrations in the gaol and unashamedly pray a Christian Prayer. At the conclusion of a secular Gaol life skill program where he had done so well, becoming a Mentor in the Program, he included Jesus in his speech. He helped organise a special service though the Chapel for a fellow Aboriginal Inmate who had just been diagnosed with a terminal Illness who had been Atheist but was now open to Christian Faith, largely through the love and witness of this inmate who knew now so well the hope only God can give.
On release, this time, one of the first things he did was to contact for himself a Church I had suggested. He made sure he went the first Sunday out. He accepted their overtures of Christian love and has enjoyed meals with them and hasn’t missed a Sunday since. When his ex-girlfriend made contact, he was clear his faith was more important and handled the news so well that the baby actually was his and now he regularly sees his two year old daughter. He has a regular job. He keeps up with Christian friends.
It’s still early days – only 3 months out, but he knows Jesus has given him a great opportunity and he’s spiritually much smarter about it so far. He’s certainly in a lot better space than he was last time, showing how it’s never over when you ask Jesus to be your Lord and Saviour, despite your failings.