The questions invariably come after we tell of an unpleasant experience: Don’t you get discouraged; why keep on trying to help prisoners?
Let me ask you something.
If you’re a parent, you don’t stop loving or stop helping when your kid messes up, do you?
If you’re a teacher, you don’t stop loving your work because of a disruptive student or contrary parents, do you?
If you’re a doctor, you don’t stop doing your best, even though some patients refuse your treatment, think you’re a quack, and make unwise decisions, do you?
Do you see my point?
Sure, I stood in the window of an execution chamber and watched in horror as the State of Texas put my friend to death for a crime he didn’t commit.
I took a call in the middle of the night. A parolee for whom I had held the prison door as he stepped into freedom, had ignored my pleas to avoid substance abuse. He went on a drunken spree, and was found frozen to death in the middle of a field.
Turns out a guy I believed in and was trying to help, continued his life of crime upon his release, behind my back, and finally took his own life when police closed in on him.
I hate that kind of stuff. And yes, it is discouraging.
But I gotta tell you something: These are the exceptions. We receive thanks from prisoners and their families, kind words of gratitude, 7 days a week! And sometimes we don’t feel all that worthy, because we really didn’t help that much. But that made little difference, because, you see…it was the fact that somebody cared. These people deal with sadness, loneliness and rejection daily, around the clock, all year long.
Just as with the parent, the teacher, the doctor that I mentioned above, this is a calling. We not only love the work. I can say without any reservation that we love the people with whom we are working! And we care. We're going to keep on keepin' on!
2017 is going to be a remarkable year!