She became all my victims

Posted: 20 August 2012 in Prisons, Understanding Others
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“The Sycamore Tree course was not only the most relevant and important part of my rehabilitation; it was, without a doubt, the vital step on my journey towards Jesus. My life was an emotionless, asocial, dark tale of criminality, heroin addiction and prison. I never concerned myself with the consequences of my lifestyle; my victims were faceless and without feelings. I failed to acknowledge their existence; they became mere objects to be ignored or perhaps hated.Before Jesus, I never experienced love. “My childhood was one of poverty, violence and drug abuse. My mother was too busy battling her own demons to worry too much about me or my sisters. I quickly learned that I was better off alone. I isolated myself and soon found the warm intimacy of heroin addiction. I was totally addicted by the time I was 12. “I quickly climbed the criminal ladder and am now serving an IPP for robbing a security van.

Although I had spent 10 years in various prisons, I never contemplated a normal lifestyle. I had done a number of offending behaviour courses, but they had no real impact on me. Human logic is no match for Satan, and he had me firmly in a mentality of bitterness and hatred.

“The seed of the Sycamore Tree course took a while to germinate, but it flourished quickly. There was a lovely courageous woman who suffered from cerebral palsy. I experienced real compassion for this woman when she described the ordeal of being burgled. That could have been me. I could have caused all that pain, made this amazing woman cry like that. Suddenly the full weight of my sin and its consequences came crashing down on top of me. She became all my victims, all the people I have burgled, the guy that got pistol-whipped, his mother, his children. They all suddenly became real people and they all condemned me for all I had put them through. The Sycamore Tree course brought into vivid reality the impact of my crimes and my addiction, and it nearly broke me.

“With that self-awareness came self-hatred and a realisation of the person I had become, and I knew I could not continue like that. The Sycamore Tree course showed me that I needed to think and act in new ways. The facilitators of Sycamore Tree are always in my prayers. I will never forget the people I met there as they have changed my life. Thank you.”

Sam’s story, the name may has been changed, but the person is real enough. The Sycamore Tree course is not a faith propagating programme. But a number of those attending come to change not just their attitudes to other people, but their attitudes to God himself. They enter a new world of faith.

The above material from “Sam” was compiled by one of my colleagues at Prison Fellowship for Cellout.

  1. warmginger says:

    The Sycamore Tree course sounds amazing. Have you more posts on this that i can read?
    Apologies if I’m taking over the comment section of your blog right now! 🙂

    • Bill Lovett says:

      Hi Warmginger. Must be late where you are. The Sycamore Tree course for prisoners. there is more on the Prison Fellowship website ( It is worth noting that Prison Fellowship operates in many many countries. And Sycamore tree is often run in these countries. It is about to start in Colombia (makes our prisons seem a cake walk). So – to find out more, visit in the first instance. p.s. though there is a serious faith basis, it is not faith promoting, not proslytising. Cheers. bill

      • warmginger says:

        Thanks Bill, I look forward to reading more. Indeed, it’s almost time for bed here (we’re three hours ahead at the moment). I wonder if prisons here in the Gulf have anything remotely similar? I wonder if I’d ever be able to find out?

      • Bill Lovett says:

        Hi, I’ve now checked and there is nothing whatsoever in the whole region. While in the prisons in UK I’ve been into, Christian and Muslim Chaplains seem to work well togther with mutual respect and recognition, I appreciate that where you are, the constraints are different.

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