On Sunday afternoon, some of the team had a chance to visit a maximum security juvenile prison in Darwin, bringing the Gospel to some serious offenders from across Australia aged from as young as 12 up to 17 years old.
The teenage cellmates came from as far as Groote Eylandt in the North, to Alice Springs in the South; from Melbourne in the East, to the Kimberly in the West. 9 out of 10 of the cellmates came from Indigenous backgrounds, and all of them had committed some very serious offences in the past.
After passing through a series of security checks more stringent than the airport, the team, the local youth minister and a missionary were led into a common room. Our team set up the chairs in a circle, and we were scheduled to conduct two mini Sunday services for the prisoners. One of the team members shared his testimony about how he found Jesus in his life, and I preached the word from The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, focusing on the free gift of forgiveness. Jesus taught us to forgive the sins of others and our Father in Heaven will also forgive our sins. We hoped the message of Christ and his love for the lost will bring peace in the prison.
The Holy Spirit opened the hearts of the captives and some of them responded with good and genuine questions like, “What happens if we don’t believe in Jesus?”, “What do you mean a second death? Isn’t that if we die here then that’s it? You know we have no future here.” One of our team members gave them some very good answers to their questions. These teenagers need Jesus.
Afterward, we prayed a Sorry Prayer and we said the Lord’s Prayer together. We also prayed for their families, their well being in prison and for the Youth Justices and guards of the prison. One or two of them were touched when I mentioned that a local missionary and Indigenous church leaders from their community were worried about them.
The clock was ticking and very soon the two sessions had ended. When we were led back to the entrance I thought, these young fellas are like lost sheep without hope. Many of them must have grown up without a real childhood. They all need the love of Jesus to give them new hope, a new life that is rooted in the gospel. It cannot be done by men, but only God can transform their hearts from within, and I saw the Holy Spirit is working in them. They need pastoral care. And I give thanks to the Lord for the wonderful ministry of St Peters Nightcliff, bringing the story of Jesus to the lost young ones in prison.
My first visit to a prison in Darwin has given me a much greater respect for all of the saints of the Church who work as chaplains among the prisoners.
Please pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to work on the cellmates, especially the one who is open to getting a Bible.
Also pray that the rest who are illiterate could have a chance to learn to read and write English in prison.
Please also pray for the protection of everyone in the prison, as well as the ministry workers who are spending time with them month after month, pray for peace against violence in the cells.
Please pray also for those who are in deep depression with suicidal thoughts, thinking that they will have no future outside the prison, pray that Jesus will come into their hearts and renew them by the Spirit, that they would cling to Jesus for the rest of their lives.
Please also pray for comfort for their families who are deeply worried about their loved ones in prisons.
Jesus said: 9 Pray then like this:”Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:9-15)