Prisons work is something that’s at the heart of The Message Trust and so naturally it’s something we’ve been wanting to roll out in Wales too. When we launched as Message Wales in September 2015, we wrote out a three-year plan, not thinking we’d be able to start prisons work until at least two years in. So you can imagine how delighted we were to be invited into Parc Prison, Bridgend after only four months!
Following really positive meetings with the chaplaincy at Parc Prison, we were delighted to be invited in early February. The biggest prison in Western Europe, it’s also home to the largest young offenders institute in the UK.
Our first visit was basically a service for young people (15-17 year olds). ‘It’s quite unusual,’ shares Message Wales director Gary Smith. ‘Because of problems they’ve had in the chapel before, people have to positively sign up to come to the chapel service. So we were delighted to see nine young people turn up!’
The visit was a combination of a chapel service and a performance by Vital Signs, and both Nick and Marvin shared their stories and testimonies of what Jesus had done in their lives.
Both band members had been involved in the drug culture and had lost control of their lives – so very relevant testimonies for their audience. But at the bottom of that downward spiral they’d found Jesus and he completely transformed their lives.
‘There was a real respect,’ says Gary. ‘The guys really paid attention, both to the performances and to the conversation. It was just so natural for Nick and Marvin to ask if anyone wanted to turn their lives around and start following Jesus.’
And in fact five guys took the decision to respond to Jesus for the first time – hallelujah!
After such a positive response, we were invited back in March, where we delivered a talk, testimony, worship and a small performance by rapper and Eden Tremorfa team leader Femi Ashiru. Again, more than ten gave their lives to the Lord!
With such an amazing response, we’re looking to visit the prison at least once a month going forward. But really our ultimate hope is to employ a full time prisons worker to work with the guys on the wings and also to be involved in the resettlement of those coming out of prison.
We’d really value your prayers as we continue with this chapter of Message Wales. If prisons work is something that’s on your heart, we’d love to hear from you below.
Highlights: Our Academy Students' 2016 mission trip Next Post:
Support Margaux in her #supbikerun fundraiser!