So far, 64 prisons will broadcast the pre-recorded service from Christ Church, Winchester on Easter Day. Former Winchester prisoner Lewis will contribute a piece of spoken word poetry.
Speaking to BBC Radio Sussex, he said: “I found myself in HMP Winchester two years ago and my way wasn’t working any more and I felt truly broken – and in that moment I surrendered and I prayed and I’m not going to say a shining light came down from heaven but I did find comfort in that prayer - for the first time in my life I wasn’t praying insincerely just to get out of a situation – I genuinely wanted help”
The adventurer and broadcaster Bear Grylls, quoting from his book Soul Fuel will also give a message of hope, talking about his own encounter with Jesus.
He tells the service in an Easter message: “All of us struggle, but we don’t have to struggle on our own, we have a never-ending source of support and energy that can work so powerfully within us. All we need to do is depend on God’s help and power for each and every task we face.”
Alongside him other key figures from the Church community will tell the story of hope at Easter, including Simon Ponsonby, one of the country’s leading speakers. The service also has a contribution from Christian chaplains across the country, who read the Lord’s Prayer.
Revd Craig Philbrick, curate at Christ Church, Winchester, (pictured above, preparing for broadcast with Louise Grainger, Student Ministry Lead) whose parish includes Winchester prison, said: ‘Prisons are often side-stepped by the community – no one really knows what to do or how to help. This service is a great example of how we can support the prisoners and staff of HMP Winchester and we are so pleased to be able to share the real meaning of Easter – our hope in Jesus.”
The service is available to watch online. It will be broadcast on Easter Day at 9am on WayOut TV - the prison TV service.