Stories from the inside
Daylight works with prisoners and ex-offenders across the UK. Here are some of their stories.
Names have been changed to protect individual identities.
Stephen was a prisoner who had been sentenced for drug possession and dealing in heroin. He faced a four year sentence and thought that life had lost all hope. It was during his time in prison that he first heard about Jesus Christ. In realising the wonderful news that was presented to him, Stephen became a Christian and saw his life transformed as he tackled his drug addiction and its social, physical and psychological effects. After being released from prison, Stephen wanted to share with other prisoners the great news of His saviour Jesus. He is now working for Christianity Explored and Daylight to tell offenders how they too can see their lives transformed.
Sean has been attending chapel services run by Daylight for a while and he has heard about Jesus Christ on several occasions. But recently, things changed for him. He has just had an operation through which the doctors found that he has cancer and they are not sure how long he has left to live. Sean knows that he needs to put right his relationship with God and is beginning to ask questions about Jesus and how he can be saved. After a recent chapel service Sean was deeply moved by what he had heard and spoke at length with the prison chaplain and with our Midlands Regional Director. Please pray for Sean as he thinks through what he has heard in chapel services and conversations with people in prison. Pray that he would turn to Christ as his saviour. Please also pray that his health would improve as he begins treatment for his cancer. And please pray for those who are talking with him about issues of the Christian faith.
Jack grew up in Salford and was brought up being taught, ‘there’s no shame in being a thief in Salford’. After years of stealing, he was eventually caught and sent to a prison in the southeast to serve his sentence. Jack is now 28 years old and looks every inch the thief. When he arrived at the prison, he attended lots of Daylight chapel services, not because he was interested in Christianity but because it was something to do on a Sunday morning. Initially he refused to hear what the Bible said on life, especially on his life. But over time, he became more interested in what the Bible had to say on lots of issues. After hearing the Bible taught in the chapel and talking to some of Daylight’s prison team, he realised for the first time what the Bible really said on his life and how he could be changed, through Jesus Christ. Jack is now living a different live inside – one with hope peace and a future filled with opportunities.
Glen regularly attended the Bible study in prison, at first because he was bored and had more interested in Christianity earlier in his life and would have called himself a Christian. But over time he became less interested and ended up getting into trouble – hanging out with the wrong people and doing things he shouldn’t have been doing. Eventually he ended up in prison where the same regime day-in and day-out quickly became tedious. Glen found out about the Daylight Bible study through the prison chaplain and decided to give it a go to see if he still found it interesting like he once had. But instead of it just being another way to pass the time inside, Glen realised that the Bible was true after all and that his time in prison had actually been a huge jolt back to Christ. Glen has just been released from prison and told the Daylight Bible study leader, ‘the Tuesday night Bible studies have been like an oasis for me in here. It’s made a huge difference to my life inside here and most importantly they’ve shown me Jesus again’. Please pray for Glen as he settles into life back in society.
David is 44 years old and has spent 12 years of his life in prison serving sentences for drug possession and dealing. Four months ago I met David when he was at an all-time low in his life. He had lost all sense of hope and could not look to the future. After seeing him in such a state, I sent him a Bible as a gift and suggested some Bible verses which he might find helpful as he struggled to cope with life. I promised to visit him the next month, which I did, and got the biggest surprise when I saw him again. David had smartened himself up, he was much more positive about life and was even looking forward to his release and the opportunities he would have to turn his life around once he was back on the outside. He also told me that he had started to read the Bible that I sent him and began attending the prison chapel services on a regular basis. Through what he read and heard, David realised the truth about Jesus Christ and has turned to him as his saving king. David is growing in his faith as he serves out the remainder of his sentence and is looking forward to learning what it means to live for Christ on the outside when he is released.
David’s story was a reminder to me of why I do my job. He is a reminder that the Gospel of Christ can save even the most unlikely of people, like David. Through Christ David knows his past is forgiven, his life has purpose, and his future is secure.
Thank you for supporting Daylight’s work so that I can continue working with people like David and see God build his church behind bars across our country.
Paul, Daylight’s East Anglia Regional Coordinator
George has been in prison for over 25 years serving a life sentence. When Daylight’s prison team met him for the first time he appeared lifeless, gaunt, desperate and disengaged. He was alone inside and had no-one who cared for him on the outside. George is turning 50 shortly but looking at him, he has nothing to celebrate.
Daylight’s prison team tried to engage George in conversation and talk to him about his time inside, but although he kept coming along to the prison Chapel each week, he spoke very little.
But as time went on, Daylight’s prison team began to see a change in George. He started to open up to those who visited him, he started talking about the Christian faith, and even managed a smile. After one chapel service, Phil, a member of the Daylight team spoke to George and talked about what he had been reading in his Bible from Joel where God says, ‘I will restore the years that the locust has eaten’. Excited and looking Phil in the face for the first time George exclaimed, ‘That’s amazing! I feel that He already has’.
Despite having spent half his life behind bars, George knows what it means to be given new life. He might be turning 50 soon but he is not giving up. George now has hope for his future where he thought there was none, and purpose for each day.
Martin used to describe himself as a born fighter. He is 40 years of age and has served several short sentences in prison for violent behaviour. He regularly ends up in the segregation unit for fighting with and being abusive to prison officers, or refusing to follow instructions. He was constantly angry but knew that unless he calmed down, his next prison sentence would be for a serious crime and for a very long time.
Realising that he needed to turn his life around and address his angry attitude, Martin requested a visit from a Daylight volunteer. On a closed visit, he chatted to Daylight’s prison visitor, Nicholas, who gave him a Bible and explained some verses from it to help him. The next time Nicholas visited, Martin told him that he had ripped the Bible to pieces in a fit of anger.
Since then Martin has undergone counselling and anger management courses and the prison chaplain has worked closely with him. Martin has even requested a one-to-one Bible study with the chaplain. On visiting him again, Nicholas describes a changed man – a man who has calmed down, a man who has been moved to a normal wing with other prisoners, a man who is due for release in six months. And Martin knows the reason for his change – through reading the Bible with the chaplain, he has come to know Jesus as his saviour and says it is the best thing that has happened to him.
John met one of the Daylight team when he was in prison and struggling with alcohol addiction. After exchanging letters with Daylight visitors and hearing the Gospel in chapel services, he became a Christian. On his release, he was met by someone from Daylight who helped John set up his new life on the outside. John joined a church and has grown in his faith as he has been encouraged and supported by other Christians, which has helped him overcome his alcohol addiction. Amazed at what the Gospel means for his life, John is now sharing his faith with another ex-offender who can see the difference that trust in Jesus has made to John.
He had never been violent before and had never hurt anyone. But one day, when all he could see was despair and anger, Shaun lost it and lashed out at an innocent taxi driver and nearly killed him. Charged with GBH, Shaun was plagued with guilt and kept replaying the events in his mind. Afraid of himself as well as what was facing him in prison, Shaun was at the end of his rope but determined to face the consequences of what he had done. In prison, Shaun met members of Daylight’s prison team who explained to him where true forgiveness can be found. Shaun was amazed at the wonderful news that through Jesus, he could be completely forgiven and have a relationship with God as his father. Shaun’s prayer for his time inside is that he would learn more about God’s forgiveness, that he would rely upon God’s strength to get through each day, and that he would ‘truly believe that Jesus is real, that he died to take away [his] sins and that he will never forsake or leave [him]‘.
Daylight met Joe in prison where he was serving a sentence for murder after a violent knife attack. He came to the Bible study that Daylight was running so that he could avoid having to attend a workshop. He was very cynical at first but after spending more time at the study group, he became a Christian. He told Daylight’s Prison Ministry Associate that while he was very sorry for what he had done, he was grateful God had sent him to prison so he could hear about Jesus.
“I thank you and praise God for the work you’re doing. I pray you may continually find encouragement in reaching out to the lost and be assured we will do our best to pass this knowledge on in here. May peace be with you all (prisoner in HMP Dartmoor)”
“Do you know, I wouldn’t have stayed and listened to people like that a few weeks ago – but I did today and they are just like us!’ (prisoner realising that the Gospel crosses every boundary)”
“It’s a lifeline for us.”
“Keep coming in because we know you’re trying to help us.”
“It’s not easy going back to the Wing and being laughed at if you have a Bible under your arm but you are a great support to us.”
“I just wanted to say thanks for everything”