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11 October 2017

Stories of hope: how faith has changed prisoners' lives

Stories of hope: how faith has changed prisoners' lives

This week is the week of prayer for prisons. Many Christians will use the week to remember prisoners and their families, as well as staff and Christian ministries that work in prisons around the country. 

Forty Stories of Hope is a resource published by Prison HOPE sharing 40 testimonies from prisoners about how their lives have been transformed by faith. Some of these stories are of prisoners who have now been released; others are of those who are still in prison today. 

The resource places the stories alongside readings, reflections, and Bible studies on the book of Mark, highlighting the ultimate story of hope: the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Prison HOPE is a partnership of Christian churches, prison ministries, former prisoners and their families, encouraging Christians to pray for prisons and to support organisations working in prisons, including through volunteering. It is part of the HOPE initiative, which has built a network of churches and organisations in the UK, including the Evangelical Alliance, focusing on social transformation. 

In the foreword to the book, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby writes: ‘There is no one, no life, no story that is beyond God’s power to love and transform into renewal. Reconciliation is at the heart of it: reconciliation with ourselves in the face of shame and guilt about the past; reconciliation within families, friends and relationships; and most importantly, reconciliation with a loving God in the person of Jesus Christ. Many of the prisoners who have shared their stories in this book have discovered life-changing truth.’ 

The book is designed to help Christians to pray for prisoners. Many churches will be using the resource as a study guide during Lent next year, and many prison ministries will be doing the same. 

Pastor Agu Irukwu, Senior Pastor at Jesus House, writes of the resource: ‘The beauty of the Christian faith is that the unmerited grace of God is given freely to all who believe. As a result, men and women, no matter their personal circumstances, can have a personal relationship with God through his son Jesus Christ. These real-life stories show that beauty.’ 

You can learn more about what God is doing in the lives of prisoners and through prison ministries by visiting the Prison HOPE website here.

A Prayer for Prisons Week 

Lord, you offer freedom to all people. We pray for those in prison. Break the bonds of fear and isolation that exist. Support with your love prisoners and their families and friends, prison staff and all who care. Heal those who have been wounded by the actions of others, especially the victims of crime. Help us to forgive one another, to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly together with Christ in his strength and in his Spirit, now and every day. Amen. 

To purchase copies of the resource, visit the CWR website – or your local Christian bookshop. One copy is £7.99, and Prison HOPE will donate one copy to a prisoner or their family for every copy sold at this price. A group or church doing the studies together can also buy a box of 20 for £40.