Letter writing volunteer

雲彩集 (in Chinese only)

Prison visits volunteer

We’ve been set free

Nick Appel

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

In the aftermath of being honored by the Correctional Services Department for my years of volunteering in prison ministry, people have been asking me why I’ve been drawn to visiting men in prison over the last 18 years, the past dozen of which have been under the auspices of the Hong Kong Christian Kun Sun Association. Before answering, I have to ask them how much time they have, because my personal testimony to the calling of sharing the redemptive love, peace, and grace of Jesus Christ with those in prison can last as long as a reading of a James Michener novel.

I’ll refrain from the long story and provide an abridged version. My life is a tale of the prodigal son. Raised in a big, loving Christian family of humble circumstances, I was “churched’ from a very young age. However, starting in my teenage years I began to lose myself in the ways of the world, and became enslaved to the desire for wealth, material things, and physical pleasures. Over the years my moral compass became terribly broken as my focus turned more and more to satisfying the flesh and to self-desire. It all came undone when in consecutive weeks I lost my job, and then I lost my wife. I felt like I lost my self. I had hit the bottom, but in my brokenness I was led and welcomed back home by my amazing Abba father who loved me and accepted me for who I was, just as I was.

So back to the question, why am I drawn to visiting men in prison? When I accepted Jesus and received his gift of transformative grace and salvation, I realized that I had been incarcerated for years in my own self-created prison, enslaved to the sinful nature that left me in the cold dark cell of brokenness, loneliness and despair. When I finally opened the door to let Jesus into my life, the chains of my sin, shame, and despair were broken, and I was born again as a new creation free to live in the grace of Christ. Having experienced that liberating joy, I felt compelled to share that healing and redeeming grace with others. When the Lord opened the door of opportunity to do be that messenger to men in prison I jumped through it.

What I discovered inside the walls of prison were other children of the Lord who shared the same experiences of brokenness and struggles that I did. What has inspired and brought joy to my heart is witnessing over the years how most of these same men have been transformed by an encounter with the Holy Spirit, a relationship with Jesus, and a fellowship of love that we share together as brothers in Christ. Inside the walls of the prison there are men who while physically incarcerated have been spiritually transformed and “set free”, no longer captive to the lonely and dark world of the enemy. The road ahead is still fraught with the traps, slings, and arrows of the enemy. However, we’ve now been equipped with the armor and bonds of friendship necessary to persevere, and with a shared hope in the promises of the Lord can soar on wings like eagles, overcoming fatigue and weariness, free to be dispensers of salt and light, even in the spiritual prisons that once, but no longer, incarcerate us. Thank you Kun Sun for providing the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to do His glorious work!