UK Prisons Week: Monday
To mark UK Prisons Week, our Director of Prison Ministry, Stephen James, will be sharing what a typical week looks like for him.
Depending on my schedule, I normally start the week by joining a prayer meeting on Skype with the London office and my colleagues in Scotland. It’s a great encouragement to be able to lay our plans and worries before God and ask for His help in all we do.
Most Mondays I will run prison editions of Christianity Explored, Life Explored or Discipleship Explored at a local prison. These are resources I have developed over the ten years that I have been working in prisons, designed to introduce prisoners to the gospel.
In the prisons I visit I normally have two hours with the prisoners. We tend to average around five to eight guests. Sometimes we go into the prison on a Sunday morning to give a message from the gospel of Mark and invite prisoners to come along to the course.
I go in early to set up the room. We use a lot of flipcharts and diagrams in the prison editions as we find these help engage people.
I love opening the Bible with prisoners and getting to know them better.
However, it can be a bit challenging. You don’t have control over what happens in the prison or to the prisoners between sessions. Sometimes prisoners are moved to another prison and you may never get to see them again. You never know how many prisoners will come along. Some of the prisoners attend for the wrong reasons and are deliberately disruptive or distracting. You may have a lockdown in the prison, which means the course can't run on that day, which is frustrating if you have travelled along distance to get to the prison. Sometimes guests are so low that nothing you say or do can console them.
There are real encouragements too. Recently I was averaging two or three guys on a course I was running, with no new people week by week. Then one session I suddenly had six new guys sat in front of me. God soften surprises me in this way, especially when I'm questioning whether I should continue in the work.
Last week I bumped into an ex-prisoner on the train and we had a very warm conversation because of the relationship we had built up in the prison. I was able to talk openly to him about faith and his life and it was great to hear how well things are going for him.
Keep an eye on the blog all week as we'll be sharing more about the ministry Stephen is involved in each day.
Read more about our prison ministry