Tag Archives: #prisoners

A Labor Of Love…

2020 sits heavy for many of us as it has been a hard year filled with challenges and unknowns. We mourn the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, with its relentless rage throughout our communities; a year filled with natural disasters and significant loss of life and nature due to the wildfires and hurricanes; and we especially grieve the loss of beloveds who have died as a result of police violence, hate and division.  

But there has been sparks of hope… 

Blameless and Forever Free Ministries always believes 'tis the season to say thanks

Before our Beautiful Jesus came to save us, there was darkness and unrest, kind of like our chaos nowadays.  “People thought they knew what they needed, but the actuality of the birth of Jesus Christ and how He would rescue us eluded them.”

But those sparks of hope have been radiated throughout the shifting and building of Blameless’ community that is transforming and restoring lives through restorative justice practices and trauma-informed care.  

As we have plowed through disheartening, troubling times that have been rather confusing, our eyes have been inspired with hope for what we value:  Restored and Redeemed lives! 

Watching team members embrace their gifts and experience blessings and further healing themselves while helping facilitate healing to our incarcerated community and victims of crime has been powerful recognizing how we all make up a part of the Body of Christ with our unique gifts that only each person possesses. Tapping into power!  

And to hear how our incarcerated started an accountability group because our physical presence was thwarted to actively answer the calling for God in speaking truth to power and spreading messages of faith, hope, and justice was confirmation of our most treasured and valuable investment: The spiritual lives of people effected by crime and violence.

Hurt People May Hurt People, Healed People Heal, and Transformed Lives Transform Culture!

That’s letting God’s presence bring order to our thoughts, infusing His peace into our entire being, and pausing to embrace and absorb this priceless Gift of God, Jesus Christ, as our greatest gift.

Jesus was born in filth, disease and decay (like us today).  Mary may have delivered and brought down heaven, but it was not in conditions that were indicative of any kingdom affluence and/or privilege.  

It was not a silent night…

There was blood on the ground

You could hear a woman cry

In the alleyways that night

On the streets of David’s town.

And the stable was not clean

And the cobblestones were cold

And little Mary full of grace

With the tears upon her face

Had no mother’s hand to hold.

It was a labor of pain…

It was a cold sky above

But for the girl on the ground in the dark

With every beat of her beautiful heart

It was a labor of love…

Noble Joseph by her side

Calloused hands and weary eyes

There were no midwives to be found

On the streets of David’s town

In the middle of the night.

So he held her and he prayed

Shafts of moonlight on his face

But the baby in her womb

He was the Maker of the moon

He was the Author of the faith

That could make the mountains move.

It was a labor of pain…

It was a cold sky above

But for the girl on the ground in the dark

With every beat of her beautiful heart

It was a labor of love…

For little Mary full of grace

With the tears upon her face

It was not a silent night on the streets of David’s Town;

It was a Labor of Love!

It was nothing short of a Labor of Love.  Mary pondered everything the angel Gabriel delivered, the words of Elizabeth, the shepherds’ pronouncements, and the prophetic words of the Old Testament.  She kept tapping into these treasures seared into her heart along with her faith and trust in God. 

These treasures Mary held near to her heart are what kept her brave and strong. This radiance is what both held and lit the way during darkness. 

We may not understand everything, but we can love and support while believing in others because Jesus radiates within our souls.

“When the divine life possesses the soul, it flows over in gracious ministries among our fellowmen.  The affluence becomes an influence importing itself to others.” – John Henry Jowett

Jesus appeared insignificant to the world and yet, He is the most precious and priceless gift one could ever receive.  Without His Love, we could not love.  Without His forgiveness, we could not forgive and release the imprisonment of rage and bitterness.  Without His Love, we wouldn’t have forgiveness, deliverance, and removal of guilt.  Plus, when we trust in Christ for salvation, we become the Father’s beloved children.

Jesus knows what we will need during times of darkness and unrest.  We may feel too lost, alone and overwhelmed to celebrate Christmas because we think we know what we need right at this moment to guard our hearts, but the actuality of the birth of Jesus Christ and how He will rescue us eludes us.

How is God’s gracious presence being displayed through our lives?

Here Mary, full of grace and God’s favor, pondered in her heart all these treasures and tucked them into folds of her heart that kept her brave and strong.  This radiance is what both held and lit the way during darkness. 

If Mary was highly favored and didn’t understand the gravity and depth of what her son was going to do, how can we relate that back to those who have hurt people because they’re hurt and not allow God’s grace and power to transform today’s offender into tomorrow’s neighbor? 

Maybe we should choose to believe God’s Word instead of our own paralyzing and restricting fears, fears of inadequacy, and/or fears of change.  

Mary mirrored what her relationship with God offered; she believed and trusted Him!  Also, she chose to rely on the truths and promises of God:  God loves me, He chose me, God is with me and will not forsake me.  Nothing is impossible with God. This is not because of my own strength, but because of His presence. 

Think about the following words…

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?

Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?

And this child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.

Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?

And when you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God?

Oh, Mary, did you know? 

Oh, Mary did not know, yet she focused on God’s Great Love and Promises!

We will never know what God is up to unless we trust Him wholeheartedly. Yes, even when it hurts. Christmas is God’s message to us of His relentless Love.

God was first wounded by the unfaithfulness of His beloveds, and then wounded again by trading His very life for theirs, while knowing that they may very well refuse His Great Love again and turn their backs. Yet, He never stops pursuing us because He gave us this precious gift called Immanuel, “God with us.”

Merry Christmas!

Blameless and Forever Free Ministries Breaking The Cycle of Recidivism

Breaking The Cycle Of Recidivism…

Blameless and Forevet Free  Ministries Breaking The Cycle Of Recidivism

Breaking The Cycle Of Recidivism Helps More Than Our Offenders!

“Hi daddy, I miss you. How come you haven’t called in a long time?” “Oh, baby girl, we have coronavirus here in prison so we’ve been locked in our rooms [cells].”

“Eeewww… Mom, you’re right, daddy is sick and bad. They put him in time out, too.”

“I don’t want to speak to you anymore, daddy!”

Gut-punching words for a father to hear during a pandemic that has forced a traumatizing lockdown.

“Mommy, why doesn’t daddy visit me anymore?”

“Daddy, why doesn’t mommy love me anymore?”

“Nana, why do you say bad things about my daddy?”

(Don’t Hate, Rehabilitate!)

Confusing words flowing freely from the mouth of a six-year-old whose father was imprisoned when she was a little older than two.

A mother left to raise her child alone, full of fear, shame and exhaustion, doing everything in her power just to survive. Getting high just to get by. Drinking here and there asking why?

Her inability to cope causes her to forget the needs of the child during the trauma, leaving scars that will forever form her child negatively.

Every word of negativity, fear and exhaustion further confuses and scars the child throughout the experience of the event.

“A child’s well-being is intricately linked to his/her parent’s well-being.”

When hurt people hurt others, once an offender is arrested, brought to court, found guilty and then sentenced to prison, as a society we pretty much have determined that justice is served and prevailed in our criminal justice system.

Is that really the case?

I really believe all that does is perpetuate the cycle to re-offend and also starts a generational stronghold on the family unit where healing doesn’t take place.

Hurt People Hurt Others, But Healed People Heal!

Healing from traumatic life events, such as a parent’s incarceration, can take on many forms.

Over 5.7 Million Children In The United States Have Experienced An Incarcerated Parent

Incarceration also affects and imprisons those in the family, work and personal lives, including parents, significant others, and sons and daughters. And with the increase in mass incarceration, we’re all being effected in some manner.

With a growing U.S. incarceration rate, it means that an increasing number of children (the forgotten and innocent victims too numerous to report) experience the imprisonment of a parent at some point in childhood or adolescence causing more childhood trauma.

And according to the National Institute of Mental Health, childhood trauma is defined as “the experience of an event by a child that is emotionally painful or distressful, which often results in lasting mental and physical effects.”

To make things worse, research also shows that parental incarceration negatively affects children’s educational outcomes and opportunities, according to the Sentencing Project.

Children’s Exposure to Parental Incarceration

Where there’s parental incarceration, this is considered an adverse childhood experience, which is defined as a potentially stressful or traumatic event that has lasting consequences for the child’s health and well-being.

Parental incarceration involves the removal of a father or a mother from the child’s household and/or daily routine. This removal is a traumatic incident for many children and may be accompanied by other corresponding traumatic experiences.

Rejection and abandonment issues arise developing fears and depression with the uncertainty in how long the parent will remain away.

Compassion Influences Culture

We can’t judge or hold back. If we do, we are robbing God of His blessings because we don’t know the unfolding of what their stories will testify to.

Removal oftentimes can be stigmatizing, too. This can produce shame leading to isolation that impedes social support systems, hinders interactions with both peers and teachers, along with children’s educational opportunities and outcomes.

A. Geller notes in “Paternal Incarceration and Support for Children in Fragile Families,” in the wake of parental incarceration, families experience a variety of challenges. These encompass economic insecurity, altered households and relationship dynamics and routines, changes in parenting, along with changes in parental health.

Given that most incarcerated parents, prior to their incarceration, were working, incarceration leads to an immediate decline in family income, an increase in material hardship, and an increased reliance on public assistance.

And unpealing further layers, there’s a significant correlation between childhood trauma and violence in the lives of those who are incarcerated themselves. Our incarcerated population have experienced their own traumatic childhoods contributing to their crimes.

Kingdom Influences Culture

Blameless and Forever Free Ministries is leaning in to rehabilitate our incarcerated and community through kingdom influences and restorative justice by focusing more on the traumatic childhood experiences and awareness in reaching the oppressed, both in our prisons and after release at our re-entry program center, as we operate under our belief that God’s Great Love Changes Everything.

Breaking the cycle of recidivism not only restores, rehabilitates, and saves society money, but it makes our communities safer and brings healing to the known and unknown victims by ending this generational cycle of reoffending.

Hurt Lives Hurt Others, But Healed Lives Heal!

Until next time…