According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2021 there were 42,970 people in Australian prisons. Drug use, mental health challenges, unemployment, low levels of education, and lack of positive social supports are some of the risk factors of reoffending.
Transitioning from prison life back into the community is a challenge. Baptist Care SA’s Breaking Free program offers local churches the opportunity to welcome people who have spent time behind bars, and their families, into their communities and support them to make a fresh start.
A strong, shy man, Evan’s* life was going well. He had a career he loved and people he cared about when things spiralled out of control after he was involved in a traumatic work accident. Suffering both physically and with post-traumatic stress disorder, Evan didn’t cope. He began drinking and soon lost his job and home and ended up in prison.
When Baptist Care SA prison chaplain Richard Hawke met Evan, he was a shattered man. Through their friendship Evan began going to chapel and eventually gave his life to Christ.
When Evan was released, he joined Breaking Free and was linked to a Baptist church and mentor. Evan reconnected with his childhood sweetheart Jenny*, and after sharing his new faith with her the two began worshipping regularly together.
This was several years ago. Richard since lost contact with Evan but often wondered how he was going. Then, just this month, out of the blue, his phone rang.
It was Evan.
He and Jenny are now married and have a child. Evan is working full time and the two of them pray together daily.
Evan had called to let his old friend know he was well and to thank him for showing him “the loving way and light of the Lord”.
Richard and Evan are now back in regular contact.
We minister to many people throughout our lives, and often we lose touch and wonder if they’re okay. Yet God continues to be at work in ways we could never imagine. Despite life’s challenges, He is good.
If you or your church would like to learn more about Breaking Free contact Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0400 108 924.
*Names have been changed for privacy
Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2022. Prisoners in Australia, 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/crime-and-justice/prisoners-australia/latest-release> [Accessed 15 March 2022].
 Yukhnenko, D., Blackwood, N., & Fazel, S. (2020). Risk factors for recidivism in individuals receiving community sentences: a systematic review and meta-analysis. CNS spectrums, 25(2), 252–263. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1092852919001056