“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ … ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:35-36, 40 (NIV)
I consider myself a discerning Christian. I usually have a clear understanding of God’s will for my life. I hear Him speak to my heart. That doesn’t mean I actually obey that calling. For YEARS I have felt a gentle tug every time I heard this scripture. That feeling of God saying, “Do this.” I convinced myself that my donating to the food and clothing bank, and caring for those who were sick, had me good to go in the obedience department. He didn’t REALLY want me to go to a prison. I’d seen “Orange is the New Black” and “The Wire”. I wasn’t interested in putting myself in danger.
I know better. I know that good people go to prison. Sometimes they make dumb decisions that have bad consequences. Sometimes they are victims of a system that holds people of color to a different standard and portions out different consequences. I have had family members locked into the revolving prison door. You make a mistake that lands you in jail and it’s really hard not to make another mistake when you can’t get a job with a criminal record. Or the same circumstances that landed you there in the first place haven’t changed. Some I know have been able to stop that revolving door but it’s never easy.
So, God’s calling me to prison ministry, and I finally stopped resisting. All these doors opened. I became aware of all these opportunities for ministry. Do you know what He’s asking of me? Tuesday mornings. Every Tuesday morning people come together and pray for Kairos Ministries – a national prison ministry. That’s it. Pray. Once a week. Now, I know there may be more, but I don’t need to worry about the “more”.
Sometimes, I think we ignore God’s call because we’re afraid it will be too much. The “more” will be more than we think we can manage. But God knows our fears and He is right there besides us. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV) “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) God calls. God equips. God empowers. Praise be to God!