I am not ashamed of the gospel...Romans 1:16.
I was reminded of those powerful words from the Apostle Paul, who made such a bold statement after an earlier life of persecuting Christians, following a recent meeting with the founder of a generous philanthropic foundation. Our board chairman Dan Rooks, my son Matt and I were being interviewed because we were hoping to obtain a small grant for HFP operating funds.
The man was so kind and so understanding. We're not certain whether we'll receive a grant, but we know for sure that the man caught the flavor of our operation. And that, in itself, was impressive to all of us. Because often it seems we are on the defensive.
For some reason, even though Jesus insisted that we give special attention to prisoners, many people cannot understand the work of HFP, and find it difficult to support. We may get a dismissive statement: “We need people like you.” We don't get dollars very easily.
But we are not ashamed of the daily work of HFP. To the contrary, we're very proud of it!
The compassion of this agency can be shown in small, and what same may think, insignificant ways. Just recently
-We helped a prisoner locate his estranged step-father, so he could patch things up before the elderly man died.
-We helped an inmate find a private investigator to dig up some critical evidence in his wrongful conviction case.
-We agreed to help an inmate deserving of parole, who has been ignored by the Parole Board far too long.
-We agreed to write a letter of support to the Governor for a lifer who deserves release.
-We promised to try to get some treatment for a prisoner experiencing serious health problems and apparently is not getting proper treatment.
-We communicated a message to the pastor of a family whose adopted son recently committed suicide behind bars, after guards laughingly told him to go ahead and do so.
-We filed a complaint with the Department of Justice regarding cruel punishment of a mentally challenged woman in prison.
-We found the phone number of an inmate's mother.
-We agreed to help a prisoner in preparing his commutation application form.
Yes, these may seem trivial and insignificant. Just ask prisoners how they feel. Notes of thanks and gratitude arrive here daily.
I started out with St. Paul's statement about not being ashamed of the gospel.
Is this activity by HFP the gospel?
It certainly is in our mind! We believe that we're demonstrating the gospel of Jesus Christ in a most meaningful way...the method of St. Francis of Assisi: Preach the gospel every day. Use words if necessary.