Saturday, October 22, 2016

On the Outside

October 22, 2016 Prison ministry is difficult, not because of the work itself, but because of the duration. We go in by 9:00 am, and don't come out till 9:00 pm. That entire twelve hours is spent with people, which for this introvert, is very taxing. The rewards however, are great, and the work is effective. I don't like missing out on family gatherings. Alex is home from college for the weekend, and little Nathan celebrated his tenth birthday while I've been in prison, all of which makes me ponder how much these men are missing out on life because of bad decisions made often under the influence of drugs or alcohol. I'm missing a single weekend; these guys, many of them young men in their twenties, are missing five, ten, and more years of life. The older ones miss watching their kids grow up. All of them are watching life go by without them. One doesn't have to be a bleeding heart to feel compassion for wasted lives, and the one redeeming factor in all of it is that for most of these men, young and old, their life patterns would never have changed had they not been incarcerated. They would never have encountered the men and ministry that has changed their lives. Prison literally saved some of them. As we worshipped together, their joy and enthusiasm are palpable, and they are as much of an encouragement and inspiration to us as we are to them. So tonight I go to bed thankful for my freedom, for the family that taught me right from wrong, for the parents whose stability in marriage laid the foundation for my life, and for the grace and mercy of Christ, all of which have worked together to keep me on the outside, offering prison ministry instead of on the inside, receiving it.

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