Thursday, January 15, 2015

The work of two heroes: affirming what we do

I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that Matt and I need some “attaboys” once in a while.  For the most part, we’re working in a dark atmosphere.  In the first month of the new year, I found strong affirmation for our particular ministry in two different places:  a public lecture, and a book. 

The title of the lecture was WHY MASS INCARCERATION DEFINES US AS A SOCIETY.  The speaker was Bryan Stevenson, founder and Executive Director of an organization called Equal Justice Initiative.  His particular niche in dealing with the “least of these” as discussed by Jesus in Matthew 25 is providing legal service at no charge to death row prisoners in Alabama.   

I identify with Mr. Stevenson when he says:  Somebody has to stand when other people are sitting. Somebody has to speak when other people are quiet. 

The title of the book is TATTOOS ON THE HEART:  THE POWER OF BOUNDLESS COMPASSION, and the author is Father Gregory Boyle.  His niche in following Jesus’ Matthew 25 requirements is working with gangs and kids on the street.  It’s a powerful, yet delightful book, and I highly recommend it. 

I identify with Fr. Boyle when he says:  If you aren’t offering these kids concrete help, Jesus doesn’t care about your prayer meeting. 

I can easily substitute Bryan Stevenson’s kindness on death row with the compassion we extend daily to lonely and needy Michigan prisoners.  I can easily substitute the word “prisoner” for Father Boyle’s term “gang-banger.”  

Together, we’re laboring among “the least of these.”  And just like these guys, HFP is doing “Jesus work!”  No question about it.

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