While serving time for manslaughter, prisoner found God
SITTING in his jail cell where he was serving time for manslaughter, Allen Murray knew his life was at a serious crossroads.
Then one day another man came over to him and asked him if he could pray for him.
"He put his hands on me and prayed for me," Mr Murray said.
"I couldn't deny things any more or say they were a coincidence."
The 48-year-old found God while serving seven years behind bars for the death of another man.
The incident that led to his incarceration happened in Gympie and involved an incident with one of his workmates, but he prefers not to talk about it.
Now he is free, Mr Murray wants to share the lessons he has learnt and help others find peace in God.
While behind bars, he had what he calls a "life-changing encounter" with God that led to the album he has recently released.
The album, titled In the Palm of Your Hand, is a collection of songs Mr Murray composed and the funding to create it was given to him by a prison chaplain.
He calls his music life-based songs with a touch of faith.
Mr Murray was released from prison in August last year.
He is now living in Hervey Bay and has a new partner, Alicia Gassman.
They both attend Victory Church in Maryborough together and have been travelling around the region, sharing the message in his songs.
Mr Murray said the church had been very welcoming toward him after his release.
He said his faith and the church has changed his life.
"When I look back now on the pursuits that I once had, I don't have the same pursuits any more," he said.
Growing up, he didn't have a strong religious belief.
Mr Murray attended a Catholic school, but it didn't impact on his faith at the time.
"I didn't have much of a knowledge of God," he said.
Now he feels it has made the biggest difference in his life.
"I was saved by grace, by the free gift of God's love," he said.
In return for what the chaplain did for him in funding the album, Mr Murray is donating 10% of his profits to prison chaplaincy.
He is hoping it will help others and he also hopes to share his own experiences.
Already he has received moving feedback from people who have heard his music.
He performed at a church and spoke afterwards and an elderly woman approached him afterwards and told him "I needed to hear everything you said tonight".
Mr Murray said it didn't matter whether the people listening had been in prison or if they were just dealing with the normal struggles of life, he felt there was something for everyone in his message.
"I really hope it encourages people going through the challenges of life," he said.
"It relates to all walks to life," Ms Gassman added.
Another time he had his CD playing when a neighbour visited.
Three days later the neighbour returned.
"I'm not religious, but I want one of those CDs," he said to Mr Murray.
August 3 will mark one year since he was released on parole, a year of living free.
Mr Murray was released from Palen Creek Correctional Centre, where he was met by a prison chaplain who took him to a celebration breakfast.
Being free from prison was a relief, he said.
"It's definitely a challenging environment to be in."
Mr Murray said he was hoping to write more songs and release another CD down the track, but he believes the next one will be "a bit more uplifting".