All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Doug Tjapkes: A “not all that innocent” bystander

I don’t spend a lot of time reflecting. Don’t have much time for it. Even at this age, there’s a lot to do, a lot to be thinking about. 

But, November 11, 2021, is significant for me, in that I’ve never been 85 before. My parents never reached that age, either. This reflection business all started while reading a little devotional by my favorite theologian, Frederick Buechner.


Buechner was talking about the challenges St. Paul faced in trying to get a Christian church up and running. He was recruiting anybody and everybody he could.

“Where was it all going to get all of them, any of them, in the end? When you came right down to it, what was God up to, for God’s sweet sake, sending them all out – prophets, apostles, evangelists, teachers, the whole tattered bunch – to beat their gums and work themselves into an early grave?”


But it was this little passage that really grabbed me.


“God was making a body for Christ, Paul said. Christ didn’t have a regular body anymore, so God was making him one out of anybody he could find who looked as if he or she might just possibly do.

“He was using other people’s hands to be Christ’s hands and other people’s feet to be Christ’s feet, and when there was someplace where Christ was needed in a hurry and needed bad, he put the finger on some, maybe not all that innocent, bystander, and got that person to go and be Christ in that place for lack of anybody better.”


I don’t want to compare myself to the early pillars of the church. God forbid. But I can tell you that this broadcast journalist/church musician had no intention of getting into the prisoner advocacy business. But, here’s the thing. No one was providing the assistance that HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS offers, on a daily basis, to thousands of Michigan prisoners. Christ was needed in a hurry.


I think it’s fair to say that, exactly 20 years ago, “for lack of anybody better,” God put the finger on me to establish this agency. And hopefully, in HFP, our team’s hands and feet would be the hands and feet of Christ behind bars.


In sending a generous gift, a kind donor made this observation:


HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS - truly the hands, feet and heart of Jesus.

On November 11, 2021, a birthday gift that makes me proud!

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