Sunday, October 25, 2015

On MAURICE HENRY CARTER DAY, the key word is “frustration!”

That single word perhaps best summarizes our battle to obtain Maurice’s freedom.

Here are some things that topped our frustration list.

His defense attorney
The prosecutor
The judge
The judicial system in general
The community
The public
The Parole Board
The Governor
The prison staff
Prison medical care, or lack thereof
The slowness of speed for the wheels of justice.  (Quoting Maurice:  When my case came along, the wheels of justice ground to a halt!).

My involvement began after he had already served nearly 20 years.  Convinced that I could make a difference, and in a hurry, I soon learned otherwise.  Here’s just a short list of additional things that frustrated me.

The lack of interest
The lack of support
The generally negative feeling toward prisoners, even, and perhaps especially, among Christians
The reaction of many of my own friends (I wish Doug would quit saying the man is innocent!)
The common perception that all prisoners say they’re not guilty
The common perception that “if they hadn’t done the crime they wouldn’t be doing the time.”

Through all of this, however, we formed the organization now known as HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, with a full-time staff of two and a list of volunteers in a variety of professions that now numbers 50.  Together Matt and I respond to 150 to 200 contacts a month from Michigan prisoners, hoping to show some concern, some humanity, some compassion, to those behind bars…and averaging one new prisoner a day!

And guest what!  We have exactly the same frustrations!  The list remains unchanged.

Despite all of the frustrations, Maurice Carter remained upbeat, optimistic, and forever kind and forgiving.  He’s our model.  So we continue our work in that same upbeat tempo, forever optimistic, and doing our best to be kind and compassionate to the “least of these” in the name of Jesus.

I love the story of the little girl on the seashore who was tossing stranded starfish back into the water as the tide was going out.  An older man watched for a few minutes, and then said:  “Little girl, don’t you know that this beach goes on for miles?  Millions of starfish are stuck on this sand.  You can’t possibly make a difference.”

The child was silent for a moment.  She walked over to a starfish, tossed it back into the ocean and said quietly, “Made a difference for that one!”

That’s the HFP story.

Touching lives.  One at a time.  Thanks to the vision of Maurice Carter.

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