BIBLE SOCIETY NEWS | Suzanne Schokman
Wednesday 1 April 2015
James* is a disciple behind bars at a Tasmanian correctional centre. He’d believed in the existence of God before entering prison, but that was the sum of his spiritual walk. He’d never read the Bible before. When a Prison Fellowship volunteer related the story of The Prodigal Son to him, it really resonated with him as he saw how his life paralleled that of the lost son. He immediately wanted to know more about life with the Father. John now welcomes the Bible with open arms and an open heart. He says it’s about transformation.
Andy*, another inmate, was so remorseful for the crime he’d committed, he confessed to the police. He’d encountered faith at a church-run drug and alcohol rehab centre in Tasmania, confessed his sin, and asked Jesus to save him. He was willing to accept the punishment for his crime, and is grateful to the judge for showing leniency with the 18-month sentence. Andy will be released in June this year and wants to go back into rehab, with the support of the church and that of Prison Fellowship Australia (Tasmania).
Prison Fellowship’s Ray Metcalf says volunteers have fortnightly Bible study with Andy. They use Bible Society’s Free On the Inside paperback Bible, developed together with Prison Fellowship USA. Combined with the Scriptures are testimonies and study helps that make the book a powerful tool for prison ministry.
Metcalf says that Andy now wants to explore faith in more detail. His addictions had previously led to a life of crime, but his faith now gives him hope of a transformed life.
The Bibles are given free to inmates on request, and Metcalf says that in recent months the requests have increased.
Ray Metcalf is just one of many chaplains serving at the frontline, ministering in prisons, hospitals, juvenile justice centres, emergency services, schools and to the Australian Defence Force (ADF). “Being part of a person’s journey back to the Father gives me a sense of fulfilment and wonder at the way God works,” he says.
Your generosity enables Bible Society to provide gospel portions, New Testaments and complete Bibles to chaplains serving here in Australia and – in the case of the ADF – internationally. The chaplains distribute them to those under their care, helping to bring peace often in times of distress and intense pressure. The Scriptures you help us provide make a world of difference to the chaplains’ ministry. They’re made available to a growing and diverse range of ministries and organisations, and we are struggling to keep pace with the many requests we receive. These groups reach out to so many who do not yet know Jesus, and the long-term impact of their work is immeasurable.
Will you help Bible Society put the Bible to work, setting people free on the inside?
*Not their real names