I have a passion to see men come to a faith in God. Wouldn’t it be great to see a company of men praising God in our churches? I mean real men, men built like front row forwards, guys with tattoos on their arm, men with rough hands, men who aren’t afraid to say they love Jesus.
Well, I have found such a company of men among the inmates of Lotus Glen. Here in prison, the conversation goes beyond the footy and the weather. Christian men in prison seem to express their faith more openly than a lot of blokes in church. Why? I believe it’s because their sins are open for the public to read about in the tabloids, and they have plenty of time to reflect on their own lives. We ‘more respectable’ men can hide our sins in the cupboard, and fill our reflection time by being busy.
So where have I met Jesus in prison? I’ve met him in the company of men living out their faith in an environment that is angry and hostile. I’ve found him among inmates who sing out of tune, but sing with such joy and enthusiasm.
One particular encounter with Jesus occurred while sharing with an inmate. “Russ”, he said. “In here we have a criminal record. That record is permanent. Long after we are dead and gone, our file is still on record. Isn’t it exciting to know that Jesus has already thrown our file away and recorded ‘not guilty’?”
Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus has forgotten what the world refuses to forget?
Pastor Russell Clark is in ministry at Mareeba Uniting Church congregation and is chaplain to Lotus Glen Correctional Centre.
Photo : Prison chaplain Russell Clark