Sunday 11th October – Mission Sunday

Prison Fellowship

 ‘Keep in mind those who are in prison as though you were in prison with them’ – Hebrews 13 v3.

Firstly, thank you very much for adopting Prison Fellowship as your charity for the year – it is greatly appreciated.

Briefly, Prison Fellowship (PF) is a national group of Christians from all denominations, including the ‘free’ churches, who are trying to show God’s mercy and loving kindness through prayer, letters to prisoners, prison visiting, joining in their church services, leading Bible studies where requested, organising presents for prisoners’ children at Christmas (Angel Tree) and delivering a course called Sycamore Tree whereby prisoners face their crimes, say sorry to the victims, forgive themselves and positively move forward.

To be able to go into prisons we are attached to the Prison Chaplaincy who makes all the arrangements with the prison Governor.

The money you raise supports Angel Tree and the Sycamore Tree courses.  So thank you.

Going into prison and meeting the men and women there I realised how vulnerable they were; mainly due to their childhood experiences.  I read an article in the Church Times recently that illustrated this point, but also showed that change was possible.  I thought I would share this one man’s story with you.

Paul Cowley wrote “My childhood was a war zone.  My parents were alcoholics.  I was bullied at school, expelled at 15 for truancy, thrown out of the house by my father at 16 and went to live in a squat.  I got involved in petty crime.  I went to prison at 17 and joined the army at 21 where I served in Northern Ireland and the Falklands.  Before I was 29 I had married, divorced twice and abandoned my son.  I lived by my rules.  I took what I wanted and did not care who I hurt along the way.”

Paul came to experience God in his life through his ex Sergeant Major, and went on to join a church where he met Amanda whom he married in 1997 and they now have a family.  He studied the Alpha Course (an introduction to Christianity) which he decided to share with prisoners.  It is now running in 70% of UK prisons.  He also founded Caring for Ex Offenders in 2005, which offers support and mentoring and where possible they are introduced to a church whose members will nurture them.  During this time Paul studied for the ministry and became a priest, so the Rev’d Paul Cowley is now Bishop’s Adviser for Prisons and Penal Officer, London.

This is Prisoners week 11th – 17th October which will hopefully focus all our minds and our prayers, not only for the prisoners and their families but victims, prison officers, everyone in the legal system and those who make policies.

Prayer is the most valuable thing we can do in a very difficult time for the whole justice system and those it affects.  So we ask that you join us in prayer – especially this week..

Books you may like to read:

‘Thief, Prisoner, Soldier, Priest’ by Rev’d Paul Cowley.
‘Jail Bird’ by Sharon Grenham Thompson (This book recounts Sharon’s life as a prison chaplain in HMP Bedford)

Jan Heptinstall 

[If you are reading this on-line, do go to the PF website  click here ]