It is from a Prison Chaplain and is amazing for two reasons: Firstly, we know that, during the pandemic, prison staff are working tirelessly and their roles are more stressful than usual. In the midst of this, it is humbling that someone should take the time to show their appreciation.
Secondly—despite most of our volunteers being locked out of prison for over a year—our compassion and desire to serve still shines through.
I would like to share the note with you here:
“I wanted to write to say thank you to Prison Fellowship for the way you assist chaplaincy teams. It is the servant-hearted attitude and nature in your volunteers that I believe helps make a Chaplain’s role so much easier.
As a Chaplain, I know the constant pressure of dealing with conflict and high stress situations within the prison, often with a very challenging clientele—which can be exhausting.
A Chaplain needs to be aided by people who empower and assist to get things done, not putting their own ministry first, but their ministry being in nature to put others first. This has been and is currently my experience of Prison Fellowship. So thank you, and well done!”
Isn’t this wonderful? It recognises that, when Chaplains have been less able to be on the wings, Prayer Line and Letter Link continue to offer individual support to people in prison. And, it acknowledges our weekly Bible Studies are providing many with spiritual nourishment while chapel services are suspended.
On top of this, PF local groups have stayed in regular contact with their chaplaincy teams despite not being able to meet in person. And many of you have been coming together to remember those working in prison in their prayers.
There are thousands of PF volunteers across England and Wales longing to get back into prison and support our chaplaincy teams face to face. But for now, it is so encouraging to know that—despite the pandemic—we are still breaking through!
And so, being mindful of this, please could I ask you to do two things?
Firstly, visit our online Prayer Wall where you can write a prayer for those who have been working in our prisons during this very difficult time. We will then be able to share the online Prayer Wall with those working in our prisons as a source of encouragement. And why not also use this wall to pray through other people’s requests?
Secondly, please would you consider making a gift today? As our society moves out of lockdown, we pray that prisons will soon follow. Your continued generosity will soon be helping volunteers to support chaplaincy in person once again. It will also enable us to continue the vital aspects of our ministry we have developed over the last year.
Peter Holloway is the Chief Executive of Prison Fellowship England and Wales.