I made my first ever visit to Lowdham Grange Prison this morning. The worship was wonderfully well led by Chris & Helena Knight whose 10 years of service here has clearly born real fruit. The men who gathered were the inevitable mix in prison of those who are there because they have a living and real faith; those who are searching and enquiring; and those for whom it is something to do on Sunday morning. However unlike some other prisons I have been to there was plenty of other choice of activity on this Sunday morning; from outside we could hear the football taking place. The way prisoners took part in prayer, reading the Scriptures and sharing testimony was impressive. In particular there is a real desire to do something themselves for those who are starving in Somalia; they want to galvanise the whole prison into giving from their small incomes to help bring relief. The genuine compassion for this situation was clear. So too was the tangible concern for the people of Norway. I was very grateful to be given a loud round of applause at the end of the sermon; Chris promises me this does not readily happen so I must have made some connections. The conversations afterwards were a mixture of deeply saddening and encouraging. What is absolutely clear is that this prison is getting some things right in helping these men think about their lives, their future and their responsibilities. There is a desire to live differently whilst inside and when release comes (which for some is a long way off). What is also clear is that the work of the chaplains is hugely valued. These men value being loved, cared for, prayed with, supported in their situation and with the family needs of which they are aware outside.
As always listening to others stories; listening to their needs & listening to their experince of God leads to learning and discovery for myself. Rosemary & I enjoyed our time in prison today. We admire those who work in them, especially the chaplains; and we’re gald we have fellow Christians trying to live for Jesus whilst they are inside.