Kairos Prison Ministry Australia

Love and purpose: Ace’s story of redemption

About eight years ago, Ace’s life hit rock bottom. He had committed serious offenses and was facing time in prison.

“I was in a mess. Hard things had happened to me, but many of these things I made worse for myself. There was no one to look at except myself in the mirror,” Ace reflects.

Ace had been raised with religion present, with an Islamic father and Baptist mother who later converted, and remembers feeling spiritually attuned as a child, but he had always resisted any formal involvement with religion for himself personally.

“It didn’t make sense to me as a young person. It felt like it was just scary and ugly and I actually developed quite a resentment for religion. All I felt was, if you did bad, you’d go to hell,” Ace remembers.

But when his life inevitably fell apart, seeking guidance, Ace turned to all things spiritual. He began to resonate with Christianity, watching preachers online, researching and reading books. Christian people in Ace’s life began to share testimony about Jesus with him as well. And soon, something broke through.

“When I heard the invitation to invite the Lord into your heart, I was on my own, sitting and listening to a ministry online, and I did it by myself,” Ace recalls.

Very shortly after, Ace was sentenced to a year in prison. With an extremely difficult period ahead of him, Ace could have abandoned his fledgling faith, but he was committed to his new beliefs and wanted to keep learning more about God. So, he attended church services and Bible study groups in prison, and committed to prayer, devotionals and the Rosary each day.

Encountering Kairos

About halfway through his sentence, Ace was moved to a Correctional Centre in southern NSW, and that is where he first encountered Kairos. While he had been pursuing God to the best of his ability, he considers getting involved with Kairos as a life-changing step in his journey which helped solidify his beliefs.

After attending Kairos gatherings with great excitement,  Ace went along to Kairos Inside, a short course in Christianity that runs for three to five days, which allows participants to witness Christ’s love through the service of Christian volunteers. During this course participants are introduced to the love and sacrifice given by Jesus Christ, encouraged to reflect on their lives, consider their choices for their futures, and invited to make a commitment to accountability.

For Ace, this was an extremely meaningful time and a big leap forwards in his faith. “At one point I broke down into tears, I was purging, and praying, and it was just reshaping me.”

ace on screen

Going deeper in love and faith

From then, Ace was involved in the Kairos Journey Program, attending regular gatherings with Kairos volunteers and a few other inmates to study the Bible, sing worship music, pray together and talk about following God in prison and beyond.

Overall, it was the people who came into the prison under the Kairos banner that most impacted Ace.

“I was always looking forward to when they would come,” Ace remembers. “To this day, they are the nicest people I have ever met. I just didn’t know a lot of nice people, and in prison you don’t have a lot of nice people, so I was quite taken aback by how much they wanted to get to know us.”

The volunteers modelled to Ace God’s love in action, as they helped him study the Bible, showed him how to worship God, and encouraged him to let God change his life.

“It sounds silly, hopefully you get a giggle from it, but I was literally learning from a group of older men what love looked like and what care looked like and what being delicate and sensitive looked like, and it was so weird!” Ace laughs.

Ace was also incredibly touched by the presentation of letters to the Kairos Inside participants, written by more volunteers, family and friends of the Kairos volunteers, and other supporters. “I got 20 to 25 letters, when that whole year only two or three people had written to me! I hadn’t had anything like this kind of care in my life before.”

Ace continued to grow in his faith throughout his time in prison, thanks to Kairos. He shares, “God is the one that encompasses everything. The force so powerful, the intelligence of it, the wisdom of it, the love of it… I always have that in my heart! I can have that intimate relationship with God… my creator, my everything. And that relationship means I can understand myself, I can understand love, I can understand grace, acceptance and forgiveness and ultimately pass those things onto others.”

team and elvis

After prison

Ace describes Kairos as an anchor for him throughout his time in prison, as the volunteers displayed the love he needed and kept him oriented towards God. So when he was released, he re-entered society a different man than when he left – in a good way!

At that point, Ace remembers, “One of the most important things for me was, I need to find a church, I need to actually continue that because practicing my faith had become a big part of my day, every day. It was no different to wondering where I was going to eat tonight!”

It was nerve-wracking for Ace to walk into church. Having been released out of prison, he was in a new location and knew no one. He knew eventually he would have to open up about his past, and that was a confronting prospect (“It’s not the kind of thing you boast about!” Ace says wryly), but his desire for God, the Christian community and teaching drove him to face his barriers.

After joining a church, Ace was baptised, affirming his commitment to continue following God and honour him with the rest of his life.

And that’s what Ace is doing. He is working as a performance coach, mentoring many, and competitive bodybuilder, and his faith is shaping all his thoughts and actions. He especially likes to focus on helping his clients with their mindset and motivation, and when the opening presents, encourage others toward a relationship with God.

Ace is also an outspoken advocate for Kairos. He boldly shared his story at a gospel service at the Parkes Elvis Festival in January 2024, speaking in front of over 7500 people.

Despite his past challenges, Ace has confidence in his future, and he isn’t afraid of what might happen to him.

“If God’s not in my life, that’s the only thing worth fearing,” Ace says. “But I’m on a path with God, and that’s fantastic, and fosters great humility, gratitude and the utmost faith in not just God, but others to live a life of grace, fulfilment and love.”

Interested in partnering with Kairos Prison Ministry Australia? Learn more about how you can support the ministry here.

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