I visited someone in jail yesterday. I don’t like going to those kinds of places but it is a necessary part of my responsibility. Every time I go to places like that, I come away with strange emotions.
There is a heavy oppression that is obvious and it is easy to get weighed down by it. There is a lot of fear and I actually reminded myself that I did not have to stay if I did not want to, I could just walk out at any time. I was angry at a world where so much evil happens so often and so many people get hurt. I also felt a little hopeless and helpless as I only assumed the desperate condition of the lives I was observing. I felt a little guilty when it was time to leave and I knew that I was headed back to my safe neighborhood and home.
I found it especially troubling that the vast majority of people visiting the jail were females, most of whom had babies or small children with them. I was only assuming that the inmates were the fathers of these babies. What a sad reality, that innocent kids are suffering the results of their parent’s poor decisions. Knowing what I do about the propensity toward repetitive and learned behavior, we can assume that, without serious intervention, these babies will follow their fathers to jail.
I am not especially fond of the verse where God says, Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Hebrews 13:3 (NIV) I do care about these people and don’t mind reaching out to them but I can’t quite grasp that level of compassion and empathy. I don’t know that I will ever be able to feel what those prisoners must feel.
I am humbly glad that I’m free.
One Reply to “jail”
Well here’s an interesting blog to comment on :). I can relate to the feeling you had of being on the “inside” and appreciate your honesty; nobody sane enjoys being in or visiting prison. I believe that those sitting on “the other side of the table” feel and recognize these same things you did too. Though one may never know, many of those fathers leave their visit in utter despair. They recognize for that short hour the pain they have caused and the lives they have affected. They return back to the cell block and back to the hopeless lives they have created for themselves along with all the other men that have done the same. Though the Scripture you mentioned talks about visiting those in prison, I believe those prisoners were more martyrs than they were actual criminals, as most of them were most likely persecuted and locked up, like Paul, for being disciples. However, I do believe the need for ministry for those who are incarcerated is justified by the example of Christ when he ministered to the “theif” on the cross and other examples Jesus taught such as the Prodigal Son. God, knowing the true heart of man, can see past any exterior situation and bridge to the unreachable.From experience I have said that “a little light in a dark place is blinding.” These men are in deep spiritual darkness and are in desperate need for ministers of the Gospel to share the light they “too” once did not have and now have freely received. The Gospel of Our Lord IS that “serious intervention” incarcerated people need to hopefully stop the vicious cycle within their families. My question & challenge; How can the body of Christ, while recognizing this vicious cycle, minister to these men and or women before and after they are released? Can they bring the Word inside the walls, offer tangible help when these men and women are released, such as tutoring, mentoring, discipleship, etc.? Or…will we, though in full recognition of these things, leave this type of responsibility and potetnial “ministry” in the hands of the State. Will the State be the only source of hope? Or will God’s people step out of OUR comfort zones, like Christ, and again eat & drink with the sinners and tax collectors and change lives for eternity.With that, Here I am…send me!~In love.