Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Heartbreak Hotel

Prison is a haven for heartbreak.

Heartbreak is rampant. Families are breaking up, marriages are breaking up, romance disintigrates.

And there's so little that anyone can do.

Probably the best way you and I can help our incarcerated friends struggling with heartbreak is to listen. Do no more than that. Just listen. You have no idea how much that gift is appreciated by the heartbroken.

I can cite a couple examples of how God used HFP in heartbreak situations, and I quickly stress that God ALONE gets the glory.

The first occurred years ago when my friends from an Innocence Project called me in to help a guy who was wrongly convicted but could get no support from his immediate family. And the reason was simple. He had completely burned all bridges. He had left his wife of many years for a tramp. He had abandoned his kids. He had gone to a life of drinking. I felt like a U.S. Secretary of State doing my shuttle diplomacy in absentia, using a telephone. I called one of his adult children, and then another. My argument was always the same: I cannot defend the behavior of your father, BUT, that does not mean the state has the right to send an innocent person to prison. The long and short of it is that eventually we got much of this family back together again, and his kids were at his side when he walked free. Sadly, prison ruined the man's health, he had a stroke and eventually the physical issues ended his life. God answered prayer and, in my opinion, healed relationships that appeared to have no chance for repair.

And I saw God at work in another case that we were involved in.

This prisoner was also a scoundrel, and so it was no surprise that his siblings and his parents wanted nothing to do with him. They made no secret of it, just as he had made no secret of the terrible ways he had abused his family relationships in the past. But now he was dying. His sins caught up with him and he was in prison for life, and his abuse of his body caught up with him and he was dying. Again, in my pleadings with family members I could not defend his past behavior. I could only state that in his final days he was trying to get his house in order, he embraced Christianity, he showed genuine remorse, and all he asked was forgiveness from those closest to him. I refuted claims of foxhole Christianity, as I always do. I just will not hear of it. The Bible tells of a foxhole Christian on the cross next to our Lord, and he was welcomed by Jesus. And so we finally got grudging forgiveness. It wasn't perfect, but it was meaningful. And I helped to make up for the lack of family visits by personally visiting my friend in his last days. He died a happy man.

These are the things that HFP does best.

You deserve to know how your money works.

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