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What does freedom mean to a prison chaplain?

Rev Sean Verhey

Freedom is the most precious commodity for anyone who lives or works in any prison. It is so much more than simply a matter of categorisation or risk level; real freedom is a matter of the heart.

As a Christian and Managing Chaplain I believe that God has a special place in His heart for people in prison because He sent His only son Jesus, born in a manger in order to die on a cruel rugged cross for the sole purpose of purchasing our freedom. Jesus accomplished this by paying the terrible debt of harmful thoughts, attitudes and actions (sin) that all humans carry. This gives people, regardless of what side of the bars they find themselves, a new experience of freedom that is not dependant on their category of prison class or classification.

In John 8:36 we find the promise “When the Son sets you free, you are free indeed!” I can almost hear people saying, “What has Jesus got to do with people in prison?” Well, Jesus spent his last 24 hours on death row, and the very first citizen of heaven was ‘the good thief on the cross’ as he simply asked: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus’ response was to set that prisoner free: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42–43).

Rev Sean Verhey is Managing Chaplain at HMP YOI Thorn Cross. Find out more about Prison Fellowship’s Chaplaincy support work and how we seek to support this vital ministry. 

“I can honestly say that I never had as much satisfaction when I worked as I do now as a volunteer.” — Arthur, Chaplaincy Support volunteer

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Volunteers are the life-blood of our organisation, and what they do in the lives of those in prison and as they pray, is incredibly valuable. If you are looking to use your time to support some of the most marginalised people in our society to transform their lives, then volunteering could be for you.

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