Igniting Change is an amazing organisation which is a deliberately tiny charity, passionate about sparking big, positive change for people doing it tough in our communities.
They have been an active supporter of Onesimus Foundation and funded many of the innovative prison programs. In a recent book “The Art of Pollination” Author Martin Flanagan gives voice to the work of Onesimus as he tells the amazing story of Jane Tewson, the founder and ‘on obstinate force for good’ that has motivated stories of courage and humanity, and shown how change can be ignited when unlikely combinations of people come together.
Be encouraged by the inspiring book that shows how compassion and curiosity can make the world a better place.
“Risdon Prison, Hobart. A prisoner is talking to his thirteen-year-old daughter on an iPad as part of what is called “the homework program”. The daughter is sitting in a room at a high school in northern Tasmania. With her is a teacher. With the prisoner is Norm Reed, a former naval officer who became a Pentecostal minister and in 2009 was sent from South Australia to a struggling church near the Hobart suburb of Risdon Vale. What Norm found was a church bordered on two sides by the only prison on the island.
Norm explains what happened next by quoting Matthew 25:31–46. After meeting Norm, I went and read the King James version of the text. It was rather grand and threatened a fearful afterlife for those who did not enact Jesus’s wishes. I prefer the version my father used to tell, which reduced it to three phrases. “I was hungry and you fed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was in jail and you visited me.” As a prisoner of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, Dad knew what it was to be a prisoner who was naked and hungry.
In the King James version, Jesus tells the group who aren’t cursed to everlasting fire that they’ve been saved because they came to him when he was hungry and thirsty and naked and in jail. This is news to the group, who reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison?” What Jesus says next is slightly complicated in the King James text so I’ll give you Norm Reed’s version: “Whatever you do for the least of these people, you do for me.”
It took Norm three years to get into the prison. Initially, he helped to arrange family visits. Norm’s church, which sits on 26 hectares, now has a small, neatly furnished house that Norm had built for $90,000 which accommodates families who come from the north of the island to visit family members in jail. Norm also started a vegetable garden on the church land, and this is tended by prisoners and supplies local charities free of charge.
Continue reading by purchasing the book online.
You can also hear Norm’s story in one of Igniting Changes podcasts. https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/episode-10-norm-reed/id1442414348?i=1000453409605