When most people come out of prison, it’s the last place they want to return to. But HM Prison Forest Bank in Manchester is a special place for Cyril Wilding. It’s where Jesus saved his life from years of self-harm – so he recently returned there for a second time to bring a message of hope to those going through what he went through.
The first time Cyril returned to Forest Bank 27 men responded to the gospel. This time another five committed their lives to Christ after he shared his testimony during their chapel service.
‘Forest Bank is something special to me because that was the place where I got saved,’ explains Cyril, who is one of our Facilities Assistants as well as a volunteer on our prisons team.
‘This time I was going in as a visitor with a message. I was seeing people who are still there from when I was an inmate there more than 10 years ago.
‘Just before I got up to speak in the chapel service on my most recent visit I was shaking and nervous. But as I shared my story I felt so calm. I then told them about God’s got plans and purposes for their lives. I remember seeing one inmate with tattoos on his hands who was so moved he was crying during the service. One of our team was able to pray with him afterwards.
‘At the end I said: “Do you want to change your life? It starts with Jesus.” Five of them made commitments. You could see the Holy Spirit was there.
‘One guy came up to me and showed me his arms and told me he was self-harming. He asked me, “How do you stop?” I said, “I was able to when I gave it to Jesus. He’s the one who stopped me doing it.”’
Cyril explains how one of the prison officers whose job it was to monitor Cyril when he was on suicide watch could see the incredible transformation in his life:
‘This time I met a prison officer who remembered me and told me how proud he is of me about what I’m doing today to what I was doing then. He saw the change in me. He was in the chapel hearing me share my testimony this time. It meant a lot to me to hear a prison officer say they were proud of me.’
Cyril concluded: ‘I always tell people, “this is where it started for me – and this is where it can start for you.”’
Please continue to pray that we see many more lives like Cyril’s impacted through our work at Forest Bank.