Finding freedom in gaol

I often speak about 2 Corinthians 5:17, that if anyone is in Christ they are a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.
— Prison Chaplain David Hilton

Prison Chaplain David Hilton is helping inmates at Greenough Regional Prison break free of their past as they hear about Jesus, study the Bible and worship God.

Thanks to a partnership with the Bible Society, David has Bibles to give away and lend.

“A man came to faith in Christ while in prison and requested a Bible to take with him on release. He spoke about how beneficial his prison time had been, and how his new faith had given him a fresh perspective on life. He was an avid reader of the scriptures and was very happy to do this with his own Bible.

“Another prisoner asked me for a Bible in Arabic. Literature is strictly regulated in prison and I had no idea how to source one from an acceptable non-English supplier.

“I found it impossible until a Bible Society grant enabled me to get a prison-approved copy within one week!

“It was very significant for this man, because he has almost no functional English and is facing a very substantial prison term. He was overjoyed to receive the scriptures in his native language.”

David’s workday is full of difficult experiences. He may be talking with a parent who has murdered their own child, meeting with a prisoner who has killed their partner or singing hymns with violent criminals.

However, he’s had the privilege of baptising a prisoner (after he was released) and encouraging others – generally up to 12 men - who have chosen to enrol in correspondence bible study units run by Crossroads Prison Ministries.

David believes in ‘Christianity with sleeves rolled up’.

“Jesus went to the outcasts and if you want to meet outcasts you go to prison. It’s full of people whose circumstances and lifestyle has led them into a tragic place,” he said.

“However, being in prison doesn’t mean your soul is imprisoned. You can have freedom when you meet Jesus in prison.

“I often speak about 2 Corinthians 5:17, that if anyone is in Christ they are a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.

“This is a powerful message for prisoners because they are often full of self- loathing and self-hatred. They struggle to define themselves beyond what they have done. Even their clothing – prison garb – tells them they are a sinner. Knowing they can break free from the past is important.”

David warns that working in prison is stressful and difficult. This requires you be ‘gentle as a dove and wise as a serpent’, quick to listen and slow to speak.

“The human heart is not naturally directed to do good and a lot of people are quite happy in their sinfulness. You need wisdom to know how to talk to people and to be appropriate in what you say.”

Please pray that prisoners would find the true freedom that comes from accepting Jesus’ forgiveness