Tim Mycock, manager of our prisons teams, reflects over the last 15 years of prisons ministry at The Message…
It’s been 15 years since I joined The Message as a Prisons Outreach Worker. I always thought I’d stick around for no more than five years, but here I am!
I’d never stepped foot inside a prison before and to be honest I was a little apprehensive. I believed that I’d clearly heard from God and that to not take on this vital work would be to ‘do something of a Jonah’. But that didn’t make it much easier. However, The Message family rallied round this new project and with the support of a couple of amazing prison chaplains, we began.
The early days were a massive challenge as I learned about prison security, began to understand prison slang, and got to grips with the endless acronyms that the criminal justice sector like to use. Each week I tentatively stepped into prison, to deliver an Alpha Course alongside the chaplain and I slowly began to grow in confidence. Soon opportunities began to open up in other young offender institutions and the team began to grow. I was in prison several days a week and my friends got used to hearing the phrase ‘sorry I missed your call – I was in prison’.
As we began to see young men and women in prison make a commitment to follow Jesus, we began to see their lives change. We began to journey with them through their sentence, on into the community and into local church. We’re still in contact with some of those individuals as they live changed lives.
I’d sometimes wonder and dream – what do I want to see? What do I want to experience?
…Wouldn’t it be awesome if someone I’d worked with went into ministry of some kind?
…Wouldn’t it be amazing if one of our ex-offenders became a colleague?
…What if one of the young men I worked with became a church leader?
…I’d love it if someone I’d worked with decided to support our work regularly with a financial gift.
…What a privilege it would be to be invited to the wedding of a young person I’d supported.
Over the years we’ve seen literally hundreds of young men and women begin their journey with Jesus, and continue it into the community. We’ve seen the lives of ex-offenders changed and their families impacted. We’ve seen victims prevented and communities improved. As I look back, with a strong sense of gratitude at what the Lord has done, I realise that each one of my dreams has been fulfilled. This leaves me to wonder – what next for our prison ministry? As we grow and expand our work across the nation, and into our international hubs, I wonder what else Jesus has in store?
Find out more about the work of Message in Prisons on our prisons page.