Mr. C. paints. He’s good. Lately he has been working on portraits. He believes that art moves people. He’s been working on portraits for notable people in his home town. His purpose, he said, is “to establish a good name with as many of these pillars in our community who truly believe that a young drug addicted uneducated inner city kid can truly change.” WOW.
This man has gotten the point of prison! He has changed. He has also become socially conscious. He is aware of prejudice, of people believing that someone behind bars can never change. Still, he wants people “on the outside” to know about himself and others like him!
Isn’t this what prison is supposed to be about? This man has reformed. He has developed a most wonderful talent. He is using it. Now he wants the outside world to know what he has accomplished. I applaud Mr. C. and others like him. Wouldn’t it be great if this kind of behavior was rewarded?
“And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required….” (Luke 12:48; NAS)
This verse from the bible keeps coming to mind lately. I am not saying this to brag, but I am feeling overwhelmed by God’s goodness to me. My life has been very blessed. Yet, as I look around me, I see so many struggling. A friend recently lost her father; another friend, her sister-in-law. Several friends struggle financially, some with illness. I now actually know prisoners who are close to giving up. One young man is emotionally disturbed and his mother is fighting for him like a mother tiger defending her cub. The list goes on.
I wish that God would give me a road map, or drop a sign on my head so I could know where I am heading. His gentle leading makes me feel I’m on the right track, and yet, I feel some trepidation. What if I miss the signs? What if I don’t have the courage? What if I become overwhelmed?
I guess I am learning to trust these days, far more than I have ever trusted before. I am – very slowly – learning to turn my concerns over to God, whatever the issue. That is difficult to do when one has tried to be self sufficient and independent her entire life. I have to believe that I will be able to walk the path before me with His blessings and guidance. I pray for similar blessings on all who struggle with the hills and valleys of life.
“…for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him.” (Matt 6:8; NAS)
I have been impressed by the letters I’ve received from prisoners. Perhaps they don’t represent the majority of prisoners, but I think I can honestly say that, without exception, each person with whom I have corresponded has seemed sincere (although perhaps a bit tentative at first), perhaps not necessarily scholastic, yet always appreciative. Most often, they seem surprised that you would want to write to them, but are most thankful that you do.
It isn’t hard to take a little time to just sit down and write a letter. From the responses I’ve received, in fact, I believe it is time well spent. So far, I know that I have made a number of individuals feel that they are worthwhile human beings. The simple fact that someone has taken the time to write, means a great deal to them.
Humanity for Prisoners has a program called Project Window. Through this simple program, a commitment is made by an individual to write to a prisoner for one year. The letter writer uses only his or her first name, and the address used is that of a sponsoring church. For anyone wanting to begin a program of prisoner outreach, this could be a most simple beginning.
Who knows? The time you take from your busy day may, at least in part, be one small step toward helping an incarcerated individual take many of those steps toward his or her re-entry into society. It will, no doubt, increase that person’s sense of self worth. Finally – although it may come as a surprise – you may find that it will become for you both a rewarding and inspiring experience.