I played the piano and the organ in a memorial service for a dear aunt last week. Aunt Clara was almost 95 years old, and the last of all of the brothers and sisters in my father's family. It sounds rather bizarre, but I really love a service like this. No one was really sad that she died. She was in misery, and had lived a full and complete life. It was time to move on. I'm family, and it felt important to me to be a part of that service.
Today I received a short message from a prisoner: "I would like to ask you for prayers for me and my sister. Our father passed away last Thursday, and it has really taken a toll on our lives."
George couldn't be at the memorial service for his father. His sister had to go alone.
It's one of the little things we don't think about when we think about incarceration.
My friend Kenny Wyniemko gets very emotional about this very subject. Kenny served nearly 9 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. He was finally proven innocent by DNA testing. But during the time he was in prison, his father died. He wasn't allowed to go to the funeral service.
I've said it so many times, but it's important for us to remember that a prisoner is not a Department of Corrections ID number. A prisoner is not just a statistic. Jesus claimed to be one of them. He said, "I was in prison and you visited me.
Remember when a friend of Jesus died? He wept.
The same grief that overwhelms you and me over the loss of a loved one is felt, probably even to a greater degree, by a person behind bars. A real human being with real feelings. Not just a number.
Jesus cares. We must care, also.