DayOne incorporating the Lord's Day Observance Society
"The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath"
Mark 2 v 27
A quick sweep of Day One Diary prison history from Gerard Chrispin, now with Christian Prison Resources Ministries (CPR)
That free lunch
It all started for me when John Roberts invited Phillippa and me to lunch and asked me to write something else after The Resurrection—The unopened gift. He mentioned those Day One Diaries which about 20 years previously had been given free of charge to HMP Dartmoor when Noel Proctor was the very pro-active chaplain there. Soon an invitation followed to launch Day One Prison Ministries (DOPM), and not only go into prisons to share the gospel and teach the Bible, but also work with Mark Roberts to identify and organise how many diaries Day One would send to which of the 160+ prisons and penal establishments. I did the easy bit—organising that. Mark did the hard bit—arranging the packing and sending and fielding the inevitable delivery ‘gliches’. That was about eleven years ago. Approximately 120,000 diaries were donated then. Today it is nearer 180,000—all given and delivered free of charge for chaplains to give to prisoners. I recommend to your prayerful consideration the possibility of supporting Day One financially as they generously donate those diaries and pay for their distribution throughout the UK.
The diaries were invaluable then as a handmaid to sharing the good news of Christ. They still are! Since those days, there have been changes and developments. When Daylight Christian Prison Trust (DCPT) came on the scene to work closely with DOPM, the organisation of the diary distribution passed to DCPT. DCPT found then, and no doubt still do, that so much residual good will has been engendered by those diaries. The diaries also have an intrinsic value themselves. Inmates love them. They note down their special dates, such as anticipated release, court appearances, probation meetings and, of course, the birthdays of loved ones and meaningful anniversaries. Never a week passes without some prisoner in some prison telling me, how much he or she appreciates the diaries and how the Bible verses that are displayed daily are read.
CPR also benefits from the warm and excellent relationships between chaplains and Day One because of those diaries. We donate thousands of the Day One photo-illustrated How can… ? booklets after the Sunday services and week day meetings and courses which we, and our Associates, take in UK prisons each week. David Fortune, our Director of Ministries, has devised and promoted an increasingly popular scheme to donate to chaplaincies for prisoners a range of Day One books that are sponsored by or provided by supporters. This includes the new edition of The Bible Panorama and Be Successful; Be Spiritual which are going very well. But the factor that helps CPR most is the ‘Day One’ name on the booklets and books. We are immediately associated with the benefit from those amazing little diaries. We thank God for their helpful influence as we each seek to present Christ to needy folks behind bars. Although I ceased to be a Day One employee several years ago, and retired as General Director of DCPT at the end of 2008, I still get introduced in some prisons as ‘Gerard Chrispin from Day One!’ I regard that as a compliment.
Last word from a prisoner and from a chaplain!
Let two people on the inside have the last word! First, the inmate: ‘You have no idea how much it means to us that Christians on the outside pray for us and send us those diaries. We don’t get much given to us. I am not a good reader, but I can read those verses each day, and they make me think.’ Then a lady chaplain’s comments years ago stay with me: ‘Along with illicit pornography, phone cards, and smuggled drugs, the Day One Diaries are the most popular things in the prison!’ Please pray they will continue to be used by God to his glory and to the blessing of many.
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