Prison chaplain Dominic Dring thanks Bible Society supporters whose kind giving is enabling the gospel to spread so dramatically through prisons in England and Wales.
I was on a prison wing in a high security prison in the South of England when a prisoner ran out shouting, ‘It’s real, it’s real!’ He’d encountered Jesus – the face of Jesus – in his cell. This guy was not a Christian, but he was in crisis and thinking of taking his life. When he saw Jesus, all his fear and anxiety fell away.
You’ll hear stories like this in prisons right across England and Wales. God is moving powerfully – and the amazing generosity of Bible Society supporters is key to lives being changed behind bars.
My name is Dominic Dring and I am a chaplain in two prisons; one high-security institution and one open prison. I want to thank Bible Society supporters for their committed giving, because you are helping to provide Bibles and run The Bible Course* in these prisons. Thanks to this generosity, people are meeting Jesus in the pages of Scripture – and their growing faith is strengthened.
I’ve been a prison chaplain for four years. Previously I worked as a social worker and ran a homeless charity before God led me into this. I’ve seen more people encounter Jesus personally in prison than in decades of ministry in churches.
Prison chaplaincy has three strands. We provide a statutory service; for example, every prisoner has to be seen by a chaplain within 24 hours of arriving in jail. We provide pastoral care, and we offer faith support.
Faith support is where Bible Society supporters come in. With your help, I run The Bible Course, an eight-session small group programme created by Bible Society that journeys through the big story of Scripture. It brings prisoners together to explore different perceptions and insights, and suits all denominations and none. The course is pitched well, intellectually, so doesn’t exclude those who are illiterate or have poor literacy – which applies to many prisoners.
The Bible Course strengthens faith. One prisoner, Richard, told me, ‘I got a deeper understanding of the Bible … how the story unfolds and progresses. It made me realise: this is real. The course gave me the confidence and courage to express my faith in front of other prisoners.’
Bible Society supporters are also providing Bibles to prisoners. Giving a guy a Bible, especially in the high security prison where people are in their cells most of the time, is powerful.
Will you help meet the growing demand for God’s word in prisons? Give Dominic more Bibles to share with prisoners and create the opportunity for more prisoners to take The Bible Course.
I want to support Bible outreach to prisoners
Many men and women arrive in prison broken, rejected and desperate for healing and love – and in this place, they find God. My own faith story is one of surrender. I realised I could fall back and allow God to be my anchor and my guide.
So many mystics have been in a cell or a cave when they come to the realisation: I can’t do it on my own. It’s very moving to see it happening among prisoners. They walk through the valley of death, through the dark night of the soul, and God becomes their guide.
I remember ministering to one guy, Amos**. He developed a practise of Bible reading, prayer and contemplation. It was his routine of faith, and he persevered day after day. Shortly before Amos was freed, he had a new cellmate, John**. John had no faith and no experience of God. But he picked up Amos’ routine and started reading the Bible. Eighteen months later, I baptised him.
God is at work here. Faith in prison is about keeping on, being steadfast, putting one foot in front of the other. People’s lives are changing.
Prisoners are an overlooked community, forgotten by many and despised by some. But not by Jesus, and not by you or me. The generosity of Bible Society supporters sends a powerful message of love and care, and I’m so grateful.
There’s a Bible verse from Psalm 23 which has been important to me for many years. It’s never been more relevant than in prison ministry: ‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.’ (Psalm 23.1, ESV). God provides all things, in all places, to all of us. Thank you again for your support.
Did you know that this story and many others like it appear in our Bible a Month prayer letter? By joining Bible a Month with a regular gift of £10 or more you enable the Bible to reach more people. Find out more about Bible a Month.
Over eight sessions, The Bible Course helps you explore the narrative of Scripture and understand how all the key events, people and stories fit together. You can run it online or in-person as a group or individual. It’s also changing lives in prisons, thanks to your generosity and the work of chaplains like Dominic.
**Names changed to protect their identity.
Author: Claire Smith, 28 July 2022 (Last updated: 29 July 2022)
Locals gathered at St Margaret’s Church in Binsey, Oxfordshire, to create a Psalm 23-inspired garden.