John served a prison sentence of eight years. While he was in prison he met Fr Ian who was working as a Chaplain at the maximum security prison in which John was held. Recently Fr Ian contacted John and asked him what #FollowTheStar meant to him in prison. Here Fr Ian summarises John’s comments:
I tried to take short cuts to get money and sort myself out. I ended up with 8yrs inside. I ruined my life. I damaged my family. People didn’t want to know me. I can understand that.
I was really really down in prison. No one seemed to care. The first thing inside seemed to be to look after myself and take care. I was known by my surname. No one even shook my hand.
As a lad I’d been to church a few times. I’d sung in the choir in the church on our estate. I thought I’d give the chapel a go in the prison. I was put off. Some of the other cons were too religious for me with their big Bibles on their knees and using Bible talk, like being saved, and knowing Jesus. I felt out of all that.
Then a chaplain said I might like going to the Quaker group. She said it could suit me. It did. It was great. Kind people from outside just came in and talked with us. We had tea and buns. We could chat about anything. We were all treated the same, visitors, staff and prisoners. It was normal and just first names were used.
It gave me hope, and it sparked something in me. It was only an hour or so a week but I really looked forward to it. I thought there are people who care and people who are kind out there, and I could try to be one of them. It raised my spirit. I thought maybe church can do that outside.
That simple kindness, giving of time to others, listening… gave me new hope, and I could look up.
A common saying in prison is ‘Two men look out of the same prison bars, one sees mud, the other sees stars.’ I was helped to see stars, to #FollowTheStar of hope and friendship.
Those three kings needed each other to help. Outside of prison now I look out for kind, good people. I need them to help me #FollowTheStar. I try to be one myself. I’ve even started going to a church!
And I still try to look up and #FollowTheStar. It helps me, it can help you.