Tuesday, May 22, 2018

It's true: We are family!


Ev'ryone can see we're together
As we walk on by
(Hey) and we fly just like birds of a feather
I won't tell no lie
(ALL!) all of the people around us they say
Can they be that close?

That was a good old song we used to hear on the radio in the 70s and 80s: We are family. The phrase was sung and shouted over and over again. Loved it!

I was thinking of that this morning as I checked my calendar. We’re rejoicing, we’re celebrating with Bryan today. He walked out of prison this morning…his first day of freedom in 30 years! We helped him get to this point, and attended his Public Hearing to testify before the Michigan Parole Board that we felt this man was ready to reenter society. Family.

Yesterday was Mark’s birthday. Nobody but other prisoners to celebrate with him. His mother died last year. His grown kids are out of state. Mark has been in prison for nine years for a crime he did not commit. We’ve been at his side, and we’re hoping he’ll be working with us upon his release. We sent him birthday greetings yesterday. Family.

Mark was also one of 15 of our friends who graduated this week with college degrees. They got their Associate’s Degrees as part of a program started some years ago by Calvin College of Grand Rapids. The Calvin Prison Initiative project is conducted at the Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia. It’s a rigorous program of actual college credit classes, taught by college professors. The guys will be the first to tell you that it’s a real challenge. Yet, these 15 inmates---some of them lifers---are now pursuing bachelor’s degrees. HFP paid tribute to them this morning. Family.

On a sadder note, Rick died a few days ago. He was still being pursued by his demons when released from prison the first time, and before he new it, he was right back in the slammer. Then cancer intervened.  He was finally granted a compassionate release just in time for him to be placed in a private facility on the outside, where he spent his final moments. It was sad. Bridges had been burned, so no family around. Yet one of our volunteers stuck with him through it all, and Rick remained in touch with our office by telephone until the very end. He’s finally free from pain and distress. But those left behind are hurting. Family.

The HFP team and Michigan prisoners are family. No question about it.

A family is a place where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living. ~ Chuck Swindoll, Pastor

We are family
Get up ev'rybody and sing!

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