Tag Archives: #incarceration

God Sees Beyond Our Right Now…

God Sees Beyond Our Right Now

When life isn’t exactly how we pictured it would be…

Facing seasons of disappointment and despair can leave us feeling isolated and alone.

Encouraging and inspiring our incarcerated can be a daunting lifestyle, but they deserve an outpouring of God’s Great Love.

Meeting our prisoners right where they’re at, determined not to leave them shackled in shame and guilt, surrounded by nothing but criminal conduct, is a priceless gift of Love.

It’s challenging to understand that during these grave times, being in a pit of hell, there are others in similar situations who have gone before us…

When you’re considered “incorrigible,” a “burden” or “a menace to society,” impervious to restraints and punishment, it’s hard to react/respond against this branding, this labeling, cauterized deep into one’s soul and flesh.

And we are, after all, a byproduct of our environment…

Discouragement leads to death and destruction. Being near the edge of the pit serves as a constant reminder that its edges of hell will swallow and take down those who dare come close.

Our incarcerated can only see and hear what’s inside their prison walls. They’re a number, not a person. It’s dark and it’s dangerous. It’s not filled with life and/or rehabilitation. It’s filled with segregated gangs; your color and ethnicity matters because that pre-determines your space, affiliation and housing and HIGHLY INFLUENCES what you learn and become.

But our Beautiful Jesus resides inside prisons and He reminds us through awareness that re-offenders lack relationships.

What would your faith look like if God said to you what He specifically spoke to my heart, There’s an amazing door of opportunity standing wide open for you [me] to minister here, even though there are many who oppose and stand against [you] me (1 Corinthians 16:9 TPT)?

Truly, God spoke those very words to my heart.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

As Christians, we are commanded to stand with the oppressed and fight injustice. What kind of Christians are we; ones with selective obedience accommodating our facades or are we, as a community, going to start loving more and rebuking division and strife like we’re commanded?

It’s not about us! Relationships matter. Re-offenders lack relationships!

Addressing our high recidivism rates requires programming and services essential to decrease the re-offender rates and foster successful community reentry. Reducing recidivism will benefit both our offenders and our communities.

When I personally think of despair and discouragement, I am reminded of Joseph in the Bible who had ample reason to be discouraged and knew what longstanding imprisonment offered.

Joseph endured the death of his mother, along with the conspiracy and hatred from his brothers.

Can you imagine the gut-punching torturous blow in being cast into a pit and then sold into slavery?

That’s unfathomable sibling rivalry.

Then to face imprisonment due to false accusations, OMG!!!

I don’t know about you, but my abandonment issues seem rather inconsequential.

Being molded by pain along with having a personal, intimate knowledge and relationship with God, allows us to survive and prosper where most would fail.

Being betrayed and deserted by family undoubtedly leaves deep emotional wounds that only God could graciously heal. Add in a long incarceration, being punished for doing what’s right, Joseph was even forgotten by those he helped.

But God doesn’t forget because He resides inside our prisons and knows what is on the other side of our circumstances.

Joseph’s life is one of God’s most powerful and miraculous stories of what redemption offers. Even saving his offensive family during the famine.

My heart of hearts believes that our beautiful Jesus wants to transform our deep losses and grave disappointments the same way He did for Joseph. God can and will make a way.

I don’t know about you, but I have decided to be a “Doer” of the Word and not just a “Hearer” that James 1:22 talks about.

Blameless and Forever Free Ministries believes God allows crises or shows us problems so we can be part of the solution.

Relevant truth for today: Where we are RIGHT NOW is not our final destination, nor is it for our incarcerated.

Looking through the lens of God’s Great Love, we are able to believe that what lies ahead on the other side of our circumstances is greater strength and victory.

One bad circumstance leading to reintegration.

No story is beyond redemption.

We can’t overcome what we don’t confront.

Living for a cause greater than myself reminds me to maintain the rights of the oppressed that Psalm 82:3–4 expresses. This passion was birthed by a personal crisis which led to a bigger cause.

We need to prioritize what matters. It’s not so much about the events or the many circumstances of life, but our response to them. Our incarcerated haven’t responded appropriately and when they get out of prison after serving time for their crime, they will repeat if we do not intervene and start rehabilitating them while incarcerated.

The most important thing I pray our hearts remember, once our returning citizens are back into society, we need to be prepared to disciple them, encourage them and surround them with love while walking alongside of them. Being prepared to help, not discriminate, will ensure safer communities and society assets.

Until next time…

Everyone Has Value!

Everyone Has Value!

Who do you think ends up in our state prison facilities?  Do we actually even care who’s occupying space in our prison system or does the state prison itself take care of that for us?

What if your son, a brother, your father, your mother or even your husband was there, would you care?

Or would you hide behind your own veil of shame?

We’re all tired.  We’re all trying to survive…

Everyone’s drinking a bit just to take the edge off of it.  Everyone’s smoking.  Wired, yet tired.  Even popping a pill or two to just do.  We’re all tired.  Everyone’s at the end of the rope without any hope! 

We’re all distracted.  Doing everything we can just to keep calm…

Just to keep it together. 

Everyone’s high just to get by!!!

Everyone’s terrified hiding behind their pride!

We all mess up and we all need forgiveness.

Every failed relationship needs another to try again.

Blameless Respect

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?

Be honest…

Now imagine it being known and exposed to all who dare to look, kind of like living with it taped to both your forehead and back.

How would you feel being completely exposed??? 

Probably would have to get high just to get by. 

Maybe even rob the mob and sob…

How we survive prison is a life-long commitment…

Prisoners survive most sentences.  Sooner or later, they return to the long-awaited outside world.

But is it really what they had hoped for, even fantasized about? 

Nobody thinks about how they’re going to be discriminated against, even tagged with the big “F” as in felon precluding them from getting a decent job, a car, a roof over their head or even vote. 

No one told them that they would have to live making minimum wage just to work.  How can you possibly save enough money to get a car to drive to work, much less support a family with a roof over your head? 

Nobody ever said you’d end up becoming a working homeless person just to survive in a world that is full of hate and condemnation. 

You did the time for your crime, but now you’re forced to live on a dime!

With sobering statistics showing that two out of every three incarcerated return back to State Prison within three years, as a society we are all imprisoned by their incarceration.  Once they are released and walk through those pearly gates, these beloveds must live by a completely foreign set of values and rules.

They have lived under the governance of institutionalized thinking being caged up like animals, but since we’re so good at punishing and not rehabilitating, prisoners forget quickly into their imprisonment how to critically think and function because it was all figured out for them being incarcerated. 

Being institutionalized told them when to wake, pee, eat, shower, exercise, work, etc. 

Kind of like a herd of sheep in their protective pens. 

But this institutionalized thinking never permitted them to deal with the issues that led the prisoners to commit the crimes that incarcerated them in the first place.  Now they’ve been forced to suppress that pain and have developed more issues from being incarcerated.

And we throw them back into reality with a whole new world that jeers their every move with spears of judgment, hate, ridicule, condemnation, discrimination and a lack of acceptance?

Not to mention, if they didn’t have an outpouring of love from family and friends who supported them with love and visitation during their incarceration, how can we expect them to successfully reenter society?

How can we make changes in our thinking and help our incarcerated reintegrate, rehabilitate ushering them into redemption to stay out of prison for the rest of their lives? 

God commands us to stand with the oppressed and fight injustice, so…

One major weakness I find being a chaplain, transitioning Blameless and Forever Free Ministries towards the reentry side for our prisoners along with having served on the Inmate Family Council at Folsom State Prison, not even a tenth of all prisoners have contact visitation with loved ones and friends. 

And without any love and support, we expect them to have successful transition back into society?

Everyone has value! 

Re-offenders lack relationships!

Until next time…

Reoffending Lacks Relationship