“Good for you, Doug. We need people like you!”
In the very first chapter of my new book I respond to people who, after hearing what I do, make such statements.
I was reminded of that while reading a recent edition of THE BANNER.
Rev. Jonathan Nicolai-deKoning said:
…when I worked as a reintegration chaplain with men leaving prison, I would often talk about my work in local churches and schools. I could count on a few people to come up afterward to say, “I’m so glad you’re doing that work. It’s so important for some of us to do.” Those comments always grated on me. I know people mean well. Most wanted to compliment me on what they see as valuable work. But three words always stuck out to me: SOME OF US. Implicit is the idea that some of us are called to the work of justice and solidarity, but the rest of us are not.
Here’s the deal. While it’s true that I have been called to prison ministry, the fact remains that all of us are called to do justice.
I’m sure that, in the minds of some folks, there’s a fear about this call to action, thinking they might be asked to go into prison, or take ex-convicts into their homes. God bless those people who actually do this, but we’re talking about something far simpler, far easier.
To “act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God," as the prophet Micah directs, here’s something all of us can do:
-Speak with our pen. There are wonderful pen-pal programs where you can communicate with a prisoner. Here in Michigan, statistics show that only 12% of state inmates receive a visit! Think what a letter a month could mean.
-Speak with your wallet. Every prison ministry struggles to make ends meet, due to the unpopularity of this work. What a meaningful adjustment this could be to your monthly tithe.
-Speak with your vote. Where do those men and women who represent you in public office stand on issues of prison reform and humanity for prisoners? Your vote is important, and can certainly reflect your values.
Back to my first statement again, no, we don’t need another Doug. We’re stuck with him. WE NEED YOU!
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.