A few years ago, a series of health issues and events took Diane and Patrick Regan to the brink physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
With a background of successful Christian leadership, Patrick felt like he should be able to manage, but instead suffered with anxiety and depression. Unable to cope, they felt ashamed and alone in their struggle.
But when they started sharing their story, they realised just how many other people felt alone in their own struggles.
“I learnt that being honest about my struggles not only helped me, but also helped open the door for many others to be honest too,” says Patrick. “It is so much easier facing difficult situations with others than on our own.”
Through their own journey with vulnerability and brokenness, they heard God’s call to create truly safe spaces for people to come with all of their own baggage, to be honest about their struggles and find the support they need—not from experts who have it all together, but from fellow-pilgrims with their own need and struggles.
Now, Prison Fellowship and Kintsugi Hope are coming together to explore adapting the course for the prison context.
“It’s not that we think prisoners need this content more than we do,” explains Peter Holloway, PF CEO. “We don’t want to say ‘we’re the good ones, we’ve got it all together.’ They apply equally to all of us. Instead, we’re inspired by the belief that ordinary people can support each other in their brokenness, that we journey together, learn from each other, and remind each other of the reality of God’s love.”
We know from multiple reports, that men and women in prison suffer disproportionately from mental health issues. Last year, PF’s Chaplaincy survey revealed a need for people who can come alongside those suffering from bereavement and loss issues.
The Kintsugi Hope course gives people self-management tools to help themselves through some huge issues such as anger, depression, shame, and forgiveness. It seeks to equip people to cope with their lives, to help them realise they are not alone. All too often, even in the church, any revelation of our brokenness is met with a narrative that says, ‘if you only prayed harder, fasted more, had a little more faith, everything would be OK.’
“There comes a point when you can no longer minimise your own brokenness — it’s too present and too real,” Peter says. “And that’s the same for many men and women in prison. There’s no hiding anymore. The police come around, the door slams, and you can’t conceal it away as you have been doing.
”We’re all broken images of God, but in God’s love that brokenness can become something lovely.”
PF is excited to be working together with Kintsugi Hope to develop their course into an offering for prisons. Patrick explained that they were keen to collaborate with an organisation that has been working in prisons for so long and has a positive reputation. Both Peter and Patrick also expressed a true synergy in the values and DNA of the two organisations; as Patrick put it, “both organisations believe it’s not just what you do, but how you do it that matters.”
Kintsugi Hope is about embracing our brokenness, and that is such a powerful message for men and women in prison to hear. When we share in our brokenness, we share our common humanity, and we allow God’s love to make gold.