by Christy Hoagland
“Father, thank You for catching my tears…” was the start of a prayer a young man in one of our services prayed. His brother was in an accident and the outcome is unknown, the recovery difficult and here he is in prison, away from his family and brother. He was able to pray for his brother over the phone and is continuing to pray that God would draw his family together and to the Father, that God would be glorified in all of this and that their lives would be changed for the good.
This story is not uncommon, life continues outside the razor wire and many on the inside struggle with not being there for their families. They (or at least most) know that this is a consequence of their actions, their crimes but it is still difficult.
Last Christmas Eve a dad lost his daughter in a car accident, many others have lost fathers and mothers, grandparents and more. They grieve inside the prison walls, no memorials or funerals to attend, (there was a time when they could be brought out to say goodbye but no longer possible) so they walk through it alone surrounded only by their fellow inmates. As volunteers we have the honor to pray with them, to offer them comfort, to point them to the Savior and the only real peace they can receive. And then we hope and we pray that they will remain strong and steadfast through their trial and not try to escape their feelings through drug use or anything else. I’ve personally seen at least three different responses to tragedy on the inside…one young man turning to drugs after losing his parents, another angry with God and giving away his Bible, and some, like the young man above – continuing to give God praise through it all.
Life goes on while men and women are incarcerated. Families struggle, loved ones lost, children grow up, the culture changes, relationships are lost or forgotten. It is at these times that we, the family of God – the Church, need to be more diligent in sharing Jesus, offering hope, the Only Hope possible through a relationship with Jesus Christ – to the incarcerated, to their families on the outside and to anyone and everyone that crosses our path.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3-9