Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Preaching without words

I've been looking at the mailers from major prison ministries...those with international programs. The materials come in full color with beautiful photographs, touching testimonies, and strong appeals for funds to help support their multi-million dollar budgets.

Compare that to the HFP monthly newsletter. On occasion it shows up in color, thanks to a generous donor...but for the most part it's black and white, just one sheet with printing on both sides.

If we could provide photographs, they wouldn't be very pretty.

A prisoner with a leaky ileostomy bag begging for assistance in getting a replacement. A prisoner dying of cancer in the infirmary, begging to be home with family and friends in her final hours. A sex offender scared to death by threats from gang members, who doesn't dare leave his cell. A woman begging for extra toilet tissue and sanitary pads because of a medical problem. An inmate doubling over in pain from a hernia that prison doctors refused to treat. A bi-polar inmate experiencing a melt-down because his meds were suddenly discontinued for no reason. Do you see what I'm talking about?

And if we could and did publish such pictures, I cannot imagine that it would help our cause. These are the things we really don't want to hear about. In fact, we don't want to know about them...then we don't have to fret about them.

So HFP is not in prison cells teaching the Bible, and seeking conversion to Christianity.

Our M.O. is different. We're fighting to help prisoners one-on-one with problems that may seem small to us, but that are huge to prisoners. Our ministry may not be as popular among those people who make major gifts, and those foundations that award major grants. But it's vital. Just ask the 150 prisoners who contact us each month.

And so we'll keep holding auctions, selling Christmas wreaths, and sponsoring musical events just to make ends meet.

And we'll keep following the admonition of St. Francis of Assisi: Preach the gospel every day. Use words if necessary.

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