I first met Pat in 1987 when I became a volunteer in the chapel program at Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert. Pat had begun serving a 25-year life sentence when he was just 17. He was 21 when we first met at a “Genesis Group” seminar for inmates led by Chaplain Orville Andres.
As Pat and I visited during our first meeting, we agreed that I would begin visiting him on a weekly basis and study God’s Word together. My wife Lorrayne also became a volunteer and was introduced to Pat. That initial meeting resulted in a friendship which has lasted to the present.
We met Pat’s parents and brother when they came to P.A. from Alberta to visit Pat. On a few of those visits we had the privilege of having them stay in our home. One memorable visit was Christmas of 1990 when Pat’s family came for a “trailer visit” at the institution. It was Pat’s first Christmas with family since his incarceration.
In 1993 Pat witnessed the amazing power of forgiveness. He received a letter from some members of his victim’s family, saying they were Christians and they forgave Pat for what he did. The letter was followed by a personal visit from his victim’s immediate family. What a tremendous blessing and encouragement that event was in Pat’s growth as a child of God!
During his years at Saskatchewan Penitentiary Pat learned a number of trades, and took his high school education.
Pat and I continued our visits and Bible studies until the mid-1990s when he was transferred to a federal institution in BC, and then to a minimum security facility, also in BC. Our correspondence continued during those years through letters and monthly phone calls which Lorrayne and I always looked forward to receiving. It was always such a blessing to hear Pat tell us what the Lord had been doing in his life during the previous month. He would often share a verse of Scripture which had affected him in some way, and most times he would ask us if we had any prayer requests that he and the other Christian brothers in his house could pray for.
After Pat was transferred to the minimum security facility he applied for escorted passes to attend church and other functions in the community. On his first escorted pass he followed the Lord in believer’s baptism.
In March of 2008, after serving his 25-year sentence, Pat was granted parole. He then moved to live at a half-way facility in BC, adjusting to his freedom and integrating back into a society far different than the one he left at the age of 17.
It has been a joy and privilege to know Pat as a friend and brother in the Lord over the past years. We continue to pray for him regularly and look forward to receiving his phone calls.
Adapted from our Northern Lights magazine (Issue #508). Note: some of the locations and involvements of our missionaries may have changed since the original publishing of this article.