Stan McCormack (ed)
Changing Criminals: The Business of Heaven
Published by Mike Griffiths (first published 1997 by Stan McCormack and Vic Pedersen).

Changing Criminals 

 

"An interesting insight into lives which many in Australia - and elsewhere - may not come into contact with except through a newspaper headline. It shows that while the journey to redemption may not be not easy, it is always possible." 

Recently republished, this book is a collection of articles which themselves were first published in Epistle, a magazine founded by Brigadier Victor Pedersen, the Salvation Army's "flying padre", in October, 1981, which circulated in the prisons of Australia and New Zealand and in the criminal justice system until 1986.

Written by those who "have plumbed the depths of despair in prison and outside, then found hope through the love of God", the names of some of the writers may be recognisable but the story behind them may not.

This is essentially a book which represents hope in what are often viewed as hopeless situations - as Stan McCormack notes in the prologue, "Once a crim, always a crim". 

It's a sentiment that's all too prevalent in our society yet as the articles in this book show, the power of God can radically transform even the most broken of lives. But it's not necessarily the matter of, as one of the writers Tom Varney puts it, "the twinkling of an eye".

Varney, who fell into "misery and frustration" after he was recaptured for having escaped from a mental hospital while serving a sentence at an institution for the criminally insane, says that for him the turning point came "the moment I put my trust in the Lord Jesus Christ".

"Before this miracle took place in my life I thought everyone was Christian except alcoholics, thieves, prostitutes and prisoners; in fact, everyone who was noticeably a wrongdoer, and I thought they could not become Christians because they were all too 'bad' including me. How wrong I was!"

An interesting insight into lives which many in Australia - and elsewhere - may not come into contact with except through a newspaper headline. It shows that while the journey to redemption may not be not easy, it is always possible.