Struggling For Faith Inside

Posted: 9 October 2013 in Prisons, Understanding Others
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Prisoner behind bars praying the rosaryThere are wonderful stories from prisons. Stories of release, repentance, re-birth. But it prisoners lives are so mixed up, it is hard to grip the heart of the matter. And it is easy for outsiders like me to offer a little light religion and get fed back well meaning words. Because the guys inside want a nice encounter on a Sunday chapel service too.  Here are some stories of searching and confusion.

Get-Me-Out Prayers

After the service in Chapel, Barak asks for prayer, that he’ll be released this week, before the UK Border Agency comes, next week. Duh – what kind of god does Barak have in mind? (Interestingly, he gets released just as we prayed together. God moves in mysterious ways.) And there’s Joseph – he’d like a pink rosary please, pink for his little girl. What kind of folk religion is this? Indeed, I heard from a prison in another part of the country, of a guy who’d wear different colour rosaries to let the wing “dealer” know whether he was on the lookout for drugs that day.

D-I-Y Religion

Ethan is a very Christian. He wears a strange D-I-Y vest with verses and slogans written on it. He likes long and complex conversations about faith all the time. “And Ethan made God in his own image”, eh?

Militant Christian

The Chaplain is most vexed about Brian. In for violently assaulting people of other faiths. But Brian is a militant self proclaimed Christian. He will only co-operate with the Christian chaplains, and not even the prison authorities. The Christian chaplains try to introduce other faith chaplains to Brian for starters.

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Wonderful Service, but still light fingers

After the service in Chapel, Rev Pete noticed that his glasses were missing. We searched the Chapel. They were not to be found. After a recital of the 10 Commandments, someone had decided to break the 8th commandment (You shall not steal). How was Rev Pete going to drive home now?

Up For… Something

You stand next to the Chaplain giving out Communion wafers as over three-quarters of the guys come up to queue. But quite a lot don’t know what to do with this funny little round white wafer. Up for something, looking for something good. But don’t know what.

Matthew 9:35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.



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