Wednesday, 11 June 2008

It's a dirty job but someone's got to do it.

Apparently if you ask female children nowadays what they want to be when they grow up, they mostly want to be "famous", though they aren't clear for what. In my day the commonest answer would probably have been "a nurse". However, oddball that I am, the first thing I remember declaring that I would like to be was "a bin lady". Not a bin WOMAN. A bin LADY. I have class.

I was reminded of this today when I came across this quote from Adrian Plass: “My function as a writer and a speaker really is as a rubbish clearer. I try to sweep away a little bit of the rubbish that's accumulated ... so that people might look a little further down the road and see what new thing God might have waiting for them.” I think that's part of the job of a prison chaplain too, as I listen to prisoners. Lots of listening, interspersed with challenges to their thinking, in an attempt to be a rubbish clearer. So in a way I got to be a bin lady after all!

I spent a long time this afternoon with a prisoner whose life has been like the council tip, quite honestly. He is now well-motivated to change, and yet he's a creature of habit with eight or nine sentences under his belt (he's only in his early twenties). He has professed faith as a Christian, at a previous jail, and I'm trying to nurture that in him. If you're the praying kind, please pray for him, that all the rubbish will be swept out of his life.


Anonymous said...

In a former life I was a cop, so I am somewhat sceptical about these characters 'reforming'! However, some undoubtedly do, and go on to be excellent members of the community. (Like, seemingly, jailhouselawyer!) So, I think that there is an overwhelming need for people like your goodself, to give hope to those who really do wish to change. More power to you.

Mr. Nighttime said...

In your experience, how many prisoners who profess to "get religion" actually end up living what they profess to believe after they get out?

Sage said...

I still believe, naive as I might be, that people can change with the right influences in their lives.

Good luck to him, he is still young enough to leave it well behind him.


AnneDroid said...

Mr Nighttime, I have no statistics to give you. On the other hand I also have no statistics either on members of the general public who profess faith and then persevere in it. In both cases the vague answer is obviously "some do and some don't".

HOWEVER, I can point you to something which will give you excellent insight into the nature of the problem. I don't know how to do links in my comments but you can cut and paste this:;&version=65;

Incidentally, I have deliberately chosen not to get involved in doing parole reports, so the prisoners have nothing to gain with me by feigning conversion.

The "success" rate in the long run has partly to do with what nourishment the new found faith gets, both during the remainder of the sentence and also on the outside. I have just this week set up a church link for a Christian prisoner who is being released on Monday so he will have fellowship and support. I believe he will thrive.