[John Bunyan wrote his great classic The Pilgrim’s Progress while he was in prison. It is an allegory of the Christian life that is inspiring many today in New Zealand prisons to seek after God through prayer and reading the Bible. Many are discovering how faith in Jesus Christ – His life, death and Resurrection – can bring them new spiritual life, peace, forgiveness from sin and eternal life].
Rimutaka Prison houses the only faith-based prison unit in the country. It opened in 2003 and is run by Prison Fellowship (PFNZ) an international Christian organisation that provides prison activities, restorative justice courses and post-release support. [Copies of Pilgrim’s Progress have been made available to many prisoners funded by the Society and its supporters].
The Dominion Post reports “The inmates are a motley crew of rapists, murderers, paedophiles and drug dealers; lifers and short-termers; Mobsters and Black Power.”
The Corrections Department provides half the organisation’s annual funding of $482,800 and provides unit lock-up and unlock facilities, meals, medication and supervision. The rest is up to the fellowship. It’s a voluntary programme prisoners do not have to profess a faith in God or have a religious background to join the faith-based unit. But they must be low-security, drug-free and agree to follow the spirit of the programme, surrender their gang patches and participate in Christian worship and study.
Faith-based healing. By Nikki MacDonald. The Domionion Post. 13 Nov. 2010. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/4341311/Inside-Rimutakas-faith-based-unit