The Flasher (prison stories part 2) …leaders are purveyors of hope L055

Dave came across us in Horfield prison and decided that he wanted more from life than the regular cycle of going in and out of prison every few months. He was a classic recidivist. Nothing anyone had done could help him break out of the intractable pattern of offending behaviour. He was harmless enough, he hadn’t physically touched anyone, but he just couldn’t resist undoing his zipper in public places. Ever since he first discovered the thrill it gave him, he had been addicted.

We had no idea what to do with Dave. So we did what we knew – lead him into a personal relationship with God through Jesus. This he embraced with as much sincerity as he could muster and started getting involved with our small church community in Bristol. It wasn’t long before he had got himself in trouble again, and it took some fancy footwork to keep him out of prison. He tried so hard and it would have been easy for him and us to give up. But hope was always there. As the leader of the community and prison ministry, I needed to keep giving hope. When people lose hope, they become ‘hopeless’ and just want to give up. They say it’s why some older people die; it’s not that they are physically unwell; they just lose hope and give up the will to live. Hope is an incredibly powerful force.

So I just carried on encouraging Dave that he could change, that there was hope. I kept encouraging the team, that God could do it, that there were answers, even for problems as intractable as Dave’s. Every time I saw Dave, I would try to build his self-esteem, telling him how much God loved him, that even though the world had written him off, God hadn’t. That however many times he blew it God would forgive. That he did not need to live in shame, but in hope that God would help him change.

Dave went off the radar a couple of times and we would all wonder what was happening. But we never gave up hope. Eventually Dave got desperate enough to be willing for us to pray for him authoritatively and to minister to him in more powerful ways. He seemed ready and open for that kind of prayer. There were two of us praying and we were in Jenny’s and my bedroom, it was the only quiet place in the house at the time. As we started to pray and take authority in the name of Jesus, it was clear there was some internal reaction taking place in Dave. Suddenly he started to retch and brought up this disgusting ball of slime on the bedroom carpet! It was a moment of breakthrough in Dave’s life, and he knew something foul had left him.

It wasn’t the end of the battle, but it did seem to make a decisive difference to him. Hope was being rewarded.

Randomly Dave met a young woman at a bus stop some time later and eventually they started going out. The woman quickly gave her life to Christ and the two of them got married. The last I heard of them was that they had a child and had settled well into a neighbouring church.

I think about the many times it would have been easy to have given up hope on Dave, to have lost hope as a team, or to have let Dave believe that his situation was hopeless. As leaders one of the most powerful tools in our toolbox, is the ability to inspire hope.

This entry was posted by nic on Friday, January 20th, 2012 at 11:06 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.

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