I love the people we work with! I mean it!
Some have been wrongly convicted. I hurt for them. Some of been wronged by our so-called justice system. I’m angry with them. Many know they’ve screwed up, and are genuinely sorry. I sense their longing for forgiveness. Regardless of the attitudes of these men and women behind bars, one thing is certain: The façade is gone. They know why they’re there, they’re resigned to it, and there’s not a darn thing they can do about it.
In these circumstances, many, predictably, are shunned. Only 12% of them even get a prison visit! The more years behind bars, the more family members and friends start flaking off.
And so, when Michigan prisoners discover that someone cares, our love and compassion are unconditional, and we’ll do our level best to help in any way that we can, the response is amazing! It’s exactly what can be expected when a straggly team of caring people try to model an itinerant preacher who stated, in these exact words, “I was in prison and you visited me.”
Needing the dollars to carry out this work, we make a strong appeal to the Christian community. Over the years some churches and many devoted individuals have faithfully responded. I know better, and yet, I’m deeply saddened when some responses don’t match my zeal and enthusiasm.
An evangelical church: We have decided to support only those missions where Jesus is taught.
A former donor: We prefer to support programs where Bibles are handed out and Christian principles are discussed.
And most recently this message from one of the area’s thriving mega churches: …this is not something we are willing to invest our time and resources in. This is the same church that boldly states in its literature: Everything we do is about lifting high the name of Jesus Christ.
I like the words of gay theologian Dr. Rembert Truluck when discussing Jesus getting baptized by John the Baptist:
…what the baptism of Jesus really means is in the fact that Jesus identified with the people, not with the prophet or with the ritual. Jesus joined with and identified with the multitudes of people from every walk of life who were strangers, sick people, unclean people, rejected and outcast people, feeble and confused people, and with the people who were hurting and wounded by the false abusive religion that John came to challenge.
HFP: down in the trenches, touching hundreds of lives like these, and loving it!