The Bank Robber (prison stories part 3) …digging for gold L056

Like the others, Geoff came to us from our outreach in Horfield prison in Bristol. The monolithic grey Victorian institution sat menacingly on our doorstep for years before we dared venture inside. When we did we were amazed at the brokenness and desperation of those who had been incarcerated. For some of course it was just a way of life, it was part of their career pathway, time inside was par for the course. But for others it was the sad conclusion of life’s events, a life that had not dealt them a good hand.

I guess no-one thinks when they are young that they want to end up in prison, no-one thinks ‘hey the path I’m on is clearly going to end with me being detained at her majesty’s pleasure’. But the sad truth is that for so many the outcome could have been predicted before they had started school, they were and are victims of the world they were born into.

Geoff was like that. He was a genial sort of guy, probably wouldn’t harm a flee; but he was someone who looked like he was easily led astray by villains. Geoff had been the unfortunate getaway driver for a gang of bank-robbers. Needless to say the hapless band has not been successful, and Geoff had ended up behind bars.

Having made a commitment to Christ inside, he made contact with us when released. He was to all intents and purposes homeless, and Jenny and I took him in. At the time we lived in a small terraced house that had been extended into the roof to create a couple more small bedrooms. However all 4 bedrooms were full. Jenny and I, our two daughters, and 3 young lodgers took all the space. So Geoff was installed on the floor of the front room.

He smelt. Years in prison had done nothing for his personal hygiene habits, and Jenny would put cotton wool balls soaked in perfume behind the storage heaters to mask the odour!

He looked for work without success, and then one day just disappeared. He went off with my expensive camera. We weren’t sure what to do, so just waited. A few days later he returned extremely apologetic and repentant, he even brought the camera back. We could see he really wanted to make things right so we gave him another chance. We could see the gold inside and were determined to mine it for all it was worth. To put it simply we believed in him, and in that environment he blossomed as a person. He started to believe in himself and grew in confidence.

A few weeks later he disappeared again, this time with Jenny’s handbag. A similar pattern followed with his repentant return a few days later. Nevertheless we continued to believe in him and love him. After a while he moved into a friends house where he experienced the same love and acceptance. Others were also seeing the gold.

Eventually Geoff moved away to London and we lost contact with him and heard no more.

10 years later on the day we were moving to Liverpool, with the removal van packed out side, there came a knock on the door. It was Geoff. And so we heard his story. After moving to London he had met a lovely Christian lady and they had married. After emigrating to Canada he had got a job with a YMCA as an odd job man, and they had remained happily married and attended church till his wife sadly died of cancer. Eventually he had returned to Bristol and had found work with the YMCA there. He had maintained his faith despite real sadness and loss, and he had just decided to let us know he was back in town and was doing well.

It was a very emotional moment – to reconnect with Geoff after all those years, to see him so well, to hear of his faith intact, and to know how much he had valued our input to his life all those years ago.

How wonderful of God to give us that encouragement on the day we were to leave Bristol to head into the wilds of the north and plant a church in Liverpool. How encouraging to know that whilst much the outcome of our sowing into lives remains hidden to us, God is always at work and will honour our investments in others. How wonderful to know that the gold we had mined for was still shining.

Leaders see the gold in others

This entry was posted by nic on Friday, January 27th, 2012 at 11:57 am and is filed under Leadership. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

9 Comments

  1. john vaughan says:

    a proportion of jails are pre victorian , they are barbaric and in-humane , look at the suicidal
    rates., check the hours spent in these conditions and how many become psyche scared with illusions of a bigger job that will free them for ever . these illusions are goverment created .
    shame on any man whoever dreamt that these jails were a solution , its a empty glass with no bottom , meaning society never gets a permanent answer to its cause.stand out side the gates of walton and read what it says about its re-abilitation , prisoners are discharged with
    no purse that alone is a excuse for a man to re-affend .the bible says the lowest man is the man who holds the keys to an others mans freedom.lawers serve a purpose they just get fatter and harder in the implementation of their obedience.they get richer,
    richer and they offer no solutions to a more fairer society. the bible says forgive them father for they know not what they do ,who ??? prisoners , lawyers , penal reform , goverment, judges or mankind. we must continue to pray that jesus christ will return at least give
    us a answwer to this barbaric inhumane , mind game . bless you nic interesting subject.

  2. john vaughan says:

    a proportion of jails are pre victorian , they are barbaric and in-humane , look at the suicidal
    rates., check the hours spent in these conditions and how many become psyche scared with illusions of a bigger job that will free them for ever . these illusions are goverment created .
    shame on any man whoever dreamt that these jails were a solution , its a empty glass with no bottom , meaning society never gets a permanent answer to its cause.stand out side the gates of walton and read what it says about its re-abilitation , prisoners are discharged with
    no purse that alone is a excuse for a man to re-affend .the bible says the lowest man is the man who holds the keys to an others mans freedom.lawers serve a purpose they just get fatter and harder in the implementation of their obedience.they get richer,
    richer and they offer no solutions to a more fairer society. the bible says forgive them father for they know not what they do ,who ??? prisoners , lawyers , penal reform , goverment, judges or mankind. we must continue to pray that jesus christ will return at least give
    us a answwer to this barbaric inhumane , mind game . bless you nic interesting subject.
    read david altons views and how he became lord alton. freedom has no rewards nor those who search it look at mandela and how long his freedom took .

  3. Elvin Dudley says:

    Reading your prison stories brought back memories of when I ran the second phase of our missions prison ministry.

    The guys would do a 9 month discipleship program after their release at a large estate and then would move to a house in a nearby city where we had planted a church.

    The house was called The Hope House*

    I think Liverpool needs a couple of Hope Houses -

  4. Reggie says:

    good luck with evryitheng, lauren! regarding the formula, we will definitely be switching to target brand once our free similac samples and coupons run out we’ll need to make the transition carefully, but if it works we will save at least $10 a week!

  5. Nice duo, although I wish the pink wouldn’t have that much purplish tone.I assume you like this duo better than last year’s Douce France trio (I forgot the season)?

  6. http://www./ says:

    Mariela Torres: Muchas gracias por tu comentario, espero también recibas visitas de los demás bloggers.Demiurgo: Sí, creo que algunas menciones serán cíclicas comenzando por el hecho de que Carlos fue quien amablemente nos mencionó primero.Saludos a ambos, muchas gracias por sus comentrios.

  7. Aline Lopes comentou em 26 de maio de 2011 às 22:05. Julia, como sempre linda, parabéns esse make é puro luxoooo!!!Preciso da sua ajuda!!! Tenho bocão e gostaria de passar batom vermelho, mas sempre acho que fica muito chamativo e acabo passando os rosinhas…Bocão + vermelho pode? me ajudaaaa!!!

  8. Und noch ein Hinweis in eigener Sache: Wer künftig eine Mail erhalten möchte, wenn ich eine neue Geschichte online stelle, der schreibe mir bitte eine kurze Mail an juliabarbararauch(at)gmail.com.

  9. the other day about no-one reading your blog. Maybe they thought you looked a bit Arabic, with that beard and all. You should photoshop a nice turban in or something.

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