“I’ve always been a shy person. I find speaking difficult. And I never wanted to visit a prison. I was always fearful of the inmates. I didn’t know what I’d say to them, if I went there. So I avoided anything that might cause me to end up in a prison – or visiting one!”
“Then, in 1997, I had been reading Jesus’ words in Matthew 25. He said that the person who loves him will feed the hungry and visit those in prison. Then I read Isaiah 58:6-12. –“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loosen the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” (v 6). I was challenged by it. It’s so easy to dismiss people who are socially disadvantaged, but God says that they matter. Then I read James 2:14-23. “What good is it brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds” (v 14). I even printed out the Isaiah and James verses, framed the printout and put it on the wall of my study so I wouldn’t forget it. And then, the next year, a friend of mine approached me to be on a Kairos Prison Ministries team to Long Bay Correctional Centre. It was for a three-day course. I had no option but to say yes.
“Twenty one years later, I’m still involved in the Kairos Prison Ministries. I attend two prisons fortnightly for the follow up program (called the ‘Journey Program’) and I’ve been involved with about 22 Kairos teams over the years in seven correctional centres.
“I’ve found that it’s never been hard to help those oppressed, in chains and yoked. It’s just about being there. You don’t have to say a real lot … you ask them how they are and then you listen. It sounds like the smallest thing (a regular visit and a listening ear), but it makes a huge difference to their lives – it shows them that God loves and cares for them.”