It takes a special sort of person to enter a prison – by choice – and share the love and word of Jesus with convicted criminals.
George Stubbs has been doing it for a quarter of a century.
He recently celebrated 25 years as a prison chaplain, including the past 20 of those years with Inside Out Prison Chaplaincy.
George started as a prison chaplain while serving as pastor of a Baptist church in Sydney, after the government built a new jail in the district.
“One day in 1993 the then chaplain for the jail rang me and asked would I visit a prisoner. I felt obliged to visit him. After some time of visiting my eyes were opened to the opportunities to share God’s Word with people in jail,” George says.
George, who has also undertaken mission service overseas, is one of around 30 Inside Out Prison Chaplaincy prison chaplains who offer pastoral care to men and women incarcerated in correctional centres between Cairns and the Gold Coast.
The volunteer prison chaplains provide encouragement, support, spiritual care and a listening ear to people facing challenging times “on the inside”.
“Since retirement from full-time work I have visited prisons as a volunteer because I enjoy serving the Lord. I get great satisfaction in doing what I believe God wants me to do: to preach and teach for Jesus, no matter where I am,” George says.
“People in prison are seen by many in ordinary society as ‘the least’. As chaplains going into Queensland jails we are given a wonderful opportunity to provide pastoral care to all. We encourage many to find satisfaction in their spiritual pursuits.”
George has “many fond memories of serving the Lord in my lifetime” but the experiences of two prisoners who found solace in faith stand out: one man who was incarcerated for break and enter offences to fund his drug habit, and another convicted of serious charges including being involved in the deaths of two fellow prisoners.
“One of the men leads others in his unit in daily devotions, explains scripture to those who enquire, attends church services and is a godly consultant with the chaplains at the jail where he is serving his time,” George says.
“Many a man has started his spiritual journey to the Lord by reading a Bible in the detention unit. For some days they have no access to TV, newspapers, magazines or books, except for a Bible.
“‘How many have you saved today?’ is a question I am sometimes asked. I answer ‘none’ because it is the Lord who saves all sinners. But encouraging them to turn to the Lord is what has kept me going.”
To help Inside Out Prison Chaplaincy place more chaplains into Queensland prisons or to become a prison chaplain phone (07) 3550 3789.