There are moments in life which have the potential to be transformative, and seasons which offer an opportunity to change the direction one may be travelling. In these moments, in these seasons, opening the Bible together can be a precious gift. Mick George is a chaplain working in the ACT.
His passion is to come alongside people in a season of change and transformation, and to facilitate a journey of self-discovery. Mick finds that his work is supported and strengthened by the free Bibles and Christian resources offered through Bible Society Australia’s Scripture Grants program.
When he was working as a chaplain at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Mick spent a lot of time with trainee officer cadets, who were entering into a season of growth and independence. “These young adults have often just left home. They are wrestling with big life decisions, and facing big issues for the first time, entering into moral and ethical decision making and faced with figuring out their purpose in life.”
Mick’s role was to come alongside them, and encourage them to go on a journey of self discovery. “To be able to give them high quality material from the best Christian minds in the world was so helpful,” said Mick, referring to the Christian apologetic books supplied through BSA’s Scripture Grant, as well as specialised Defence Force Scriptures. “They could read the books, come back and discuss further the ideas they’d encountered.”
Mick now works as a prison chaplain, with people who find themselves at a low — and challenging — point in their lives. “Every detainee is reflecting on where they’re at and are thinking, ‘Where is my life going?’” says Mick. “They’ve experienced significant pain and suffering, as well as frustration and anger at the world, and have struck out.”
Mick sees their time in prison as an opportunity, a chance to establish a mature understanding of ethical and moral decision making. “If their own moral structures come into line with the moral structures of our society, then detainees are a heck of a lot less likely to reoffend.” In the Bible Studies for detainees which Mick has been running, BSA’s Scripture Grant has again supported transformative journeys.
“Detainees are after Bibles because they want to get into God’s word. A lot of them are from low academic backgrounds, and many have poorer literacy skills. But they’re so keen to know, ‘How does the Bible fit together? How does it all work?’” Through the Scripture Grant, Mick received Bibles in various translations, including easyEnglish to give away, as well as gospel resources to give to those interested.
Mick was speaking to the head of the Education Program recently about a detainee who has finished a degree with honours while in prison and is soon to enter a transition program. “The head of the Education Program mentioned that the biggest change she has seen in this man was when he came to faith, and the huge changes that made in his life direction.”
Similarly, Mick recounts that the Custodial Officers in the mental health wing have reported back to him a change in those detainees attending a Bible study. “The attitude of the Custodial Officers towards the Bible studies I’ve started has changed from, ‘Why are you bothering?’ to a recognition that a Bible study is worthwhile.” According to Mick, this adds to their already welcoming attitude to chaplains: “There’s no such thing as a bad chaplain. They’re always grateful to call a chaplain, who will take time to listen to detainees, and help them.”