Friday, December 25, 2015

In Santa's bag: Friends!

It’s always a pleasurable experience to develop a new friendship.  In our work, Matt and I quite often meet someone new who appreciates the work that we are doing, offers to help in some way, and becomes a new friend, not only to HFP, but to us, personally.

Sitting at my desk in the quiet of Christmas morning, carols playing softly in the background, I’m thankful for all my friends.  But my heart is filled with gratitude on Christmas, 2015, for my friends behind bars---especially those whom I hadn’t yet met just one year ago.  As we reviewed our contact records for the year, we discovered that we added at least one new person to our list of friends every day, 7 days a week.  By December 31, I will have added the names of more than 365 persons behind bars to my list of friends.  And these aren’t merely acquaintances…these are friends!

For example, Matt and I received an unprecedented number of Christmas cards in the mail from prisoners this year, and many, many more ecards and greetings via email.  And the comments in the cards went something like this:

Wanting to send a very warm and sincere Christmas wish to you and all those who seek truth and honesty for those of us incarcerated.

Thanks for everything!  You all are a blessing more than you know.

Just wanted to say I appreciate all that you do for us.  Thank you, my brothers!

I am very, very thankful for all that you do for Michigan prisoners.

It’s also fair to say that not everyone behind bars considers us a friend.  Frustration and anger can get in the way of friendship when we’re not able to get the desired results on behalf of a needy inmate.  Sometimes the best thing we can do, in this business, is simply hold the prisoner’s hand.  We can’t right an injustice, we can’t change the mind and practices of an obstinate healthcare staffer, we can’t convince a stubborn Parole Board that many of these people would be productive citizens outside of prison.  Sometimes the only thing we can do for the unhappy and unsatisfied prisoner is offer a prayer.  God may seem to hold the only key to solve their problems.

Am I thankful that there are prisoners?  No!  Am I thankful that these people are in prison?  Certainly not!  Am I thankful for the friendship of so many inmates?  You bet!

Their friendship is an unparalleled, unmatchable gift!

Join me in a prayer, on this Christmas day, remembering all who are incarcerated.  This is a lonely day for them.

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