I was taken aback a couple of years ago when a consultant for HFP said, no one is doing what you do. And then he went on to say, No one wants to do what you do!
In retrospect, I don’t know why that surprised me.
One time I was doing a review of my book SWEET FREEDOM with members of a Christian book club, and a couple of the people actually became hostile. I’m still not quite sure why that happened. Perhaps they just didn’t like to hear about a white man trying to help a wrongly convicted black man.
I was invited to tell about our ministry to an adult class of a Christian Church one time, and only a handful showed up. Little to no interest in helping the “least of these,” from those who, in my opinion, should have had the most interest.
Matt and I traveled to a lily-white city one day to speak to a group of businessmen in that city’s major service club. Polite applause. Everyone made a quick exit. No words of thanks.
We recently put out an appeal hoping to find housing for an elderly black man battling cancer, who has no friends or relatives left, and who would like to die outside of prison. Very little response.
I had forgotten those words of our consultant until we received a neat message, including holiday greetings, from one of our friends behind bars: You folks do a job that nobody else even wants to think about! For that I thank you all.
One thing that’s missing in all this narrative is how beautiful it is to work with the marginalized. Fr Greg Boyle: “Compassion isn't just about feeling the pain of others; it's about bringing them in toward yourself. If we love what God loves, then, in compassion, margins get erased. 'Be compassionate as God is compassionate,' means the dismantling of barriers that exclude.”
As we sit on the threshold of 2018, all of us at HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS---staff, directors, volunteers---boldly proclaim that we not only want to do this work. We love it! We love the people with whom we work! Our lives are brighter because of these relationships!
We must not sit idly by as injustices abound around us. We have a voice and we must use it. We must advocate for those who no longer have a voice. We must love greatly. Dr. Christina Hibbert