One of Scotland’s most violent criminals Anthony Gielty became a Bible college student after reading about God in solitary confinement.
Anthony was jailed for a string of offences including attempted murder with a samurai sword. In prison, his violence continued and he even began dealing drugs behind bars.
The Scottish Prison Service had one solution – to send him on ‘the ghost train’.
Anthony Gielty found god in solitary confinement
“It consists of continuous solitary confinement for years on end,” Anthony said.
“A prisoner is taken from prison to prison and held in each establishment’s segregation unit for three months, before being moved to another solitary unit.
“This ensures the offender has very little time to settle into a routine, making it more difficult for them to plan any disorder or disruption.”
‘What touched me was the kindness of the chaplains’ – Anthony Gielty
However, in the midst of the chaos of prison life and violence, God reached out to Anthony and he saw the need for a relationship with his creator.
He said: “What touched me was the kindness of God’s people, particularly chaplains, who showed so much of his love.
“It really stood out in a dark environment. In my book, I use a quote from Simone Weil, ‘One of the rarest and purest forms of generosity is to pay attention.’”
Anthony began to read about the lives of the saints, and was struck by what men consumed with love for God had done in the past.
He added: “It was in prison that my deepest existential reflections took place, which at first hurled me into deeper inner and outer darkness. But then it sent me searching for the light.
‘All of my heart was fixed on serving God’
“Now I am so humbled that God has wasted nothing, not even the worst aspects of my life, as I am able to use my experiences in the work I do now, with men leaving similar backgrounds as myself.
“All of my heart was fixed on serving God. I could find no satisfaction in any other endeavour. And the more I focused on serving him, the more things fell into place.”
Anthony met his wife, Anna, while studying at ICC, the Glasgow-based Bible college, and they have since had two sons, both born prematurely.
Watching them fight for their lives has been a traumatic experience but again one that Anthony draws on.
He said: “Their little journeys into this world have deepened my appreciation of the sanctity of human life.
“I want to welcome my boys into the truth of God’s story, of a father of love who gives his own Son to set us free, that we might serve, bless and help others, and in so doing, honour him. I pray that my boys may learn to live in this story, as they begin their lives.”