Who’s Got Mail?

Who’s Got Mail?

A blessed and happy Easter week to all. In keeping with National Poetry Month and also with our celebration of a living Redeemer, I’d like tothink today about a group of people removed from interaction with most of us and also often outside of our remembrance. A group for whom salvation and new life means as much or more than it could mean for anyone alive.

I’m thinking of those in prison. I woke early one morning a few weeks ago to a news story about the growth of prisons and the prison population nationwide. There has also been a large growth in the use of solitary confinement, this reporter said. Prisons and politicians want to stress to the public their commitment to being tough on crime, and putting prisoners alone seems a good way to do that. In too many cases, though, those confined get little exercise and not enough to fill their time. And of course, they are lonely.

Mike and I have supported and loved ministry to those in prison for many years, and particularly one ministry: Crossroad Bible Institute headquartered in Grand Rapids, MI. Through Crossroad anyone in prison in the U.S. and many internationally are able to study the Bible via correspondence courses with Crossroad. Prisoners return each lesson to Crossroad by mail and volunteers around the country then receive the lessons from Crossroad by mail and correct them, write comments and teaching, and include a note of encouragement to the prisoner. There are a few tiers of lessons, which increase in depth of study, and even courses for college credit available. These lessons–God, his Word, and his people–have changed thousands of lives in prison.

Crossroad Bible Institute periodically prints a Journal of the Arts including artwork and poetry created by prisoners who participate in the Bible program. I just received the Spring 2012 journal and have received permission to share one prisoner’s poem with you.

God of Love

I lie in my bunk feeling lonesome and unloved,
Wondering, How did I get here?
Is there no one that cares?
Did I not give a shoulder until eyes cleared?
It’s mail call and my eyes are cloudy.
I don’t expect to get any
While everybody around me gets plenty.
There he goes,
Passing my cell once again,
Driving the nail deeper to show I have no friends.
It’s a dull pain I’ve come to accept.
No matter how hard I try to block it,
I still hear his step.
Wait–
What is this he slides under my door?
My heart skips a beat.
I feel lonely no more!
It’s mail from God:
His messenger, Crossroad Bible Institute,
Bringing love and hope from above,
These folks
Who take the time out to bring us close
To the One who loves us most.
I now lie in my bunk
Feeling encouraged and loved.
Thank you, Crossroad Bible Institute,
And thank you, God of love.

By Jonathan H., CA

Jesus was and is a God of love. Here on earth he poured his time and attention into people. He continues to do that through his Spirit and through his people, whom he also inhabits. In the spirit of Easter, in the spirit of celebrating a Savior who lives and who reaches for the lonely and the hurting, let’s engage with people. Let’s seek out those who need a visit or a word of encouragement. Let’s remember the prisoners and ask God how we can love them more.

Do you have a word to share about a prisoner or about lives changed in prison?

Note: As I write, Chuck Colson, head of Prison Fellowship International, remains in critical condition in the hospital in VA after experiencing a brain hemorrhage on March 31.  Colson has worked tirelessly for many years on behalf of prisoners worldwide, and through his commitment many have come to know their Savior Jesus. We continue to pray for God’s goodness and mercy to surround Chuck in this time. You can read more here (http://www NULL.christianitytoday NULL.com/ct/2012/aprilweb-only/colson-critical-condition NULL.html).

Learn more about Crossroad Bible Institute (http://www NULL.crossroadbible NULL.org/). Becoming a volunteer “instructor” who grades lessons is a simple process and there are not a lot of qualifications. The grading can be done by individuals or by small groups who meet monthly to do grading together.Thank you to Crossroad and to Jonathan for permission to use the poem above, Crossroad Journal of the Arts, Spring 2012, p. 11. May God work out his good plan for you, Jonathan!

One more note: I continue to welcome poetry this month, written by you or by someone before 1930 (copyright issues). Please feel free to include it here in comments or email to me, brenda at brendaquinnwrites dot com. The poetry should focus in some way, directly or indirectly, on life with Jesus. I love what I have received already and don’t care nearly as much about quality of the poem as I do about engaging our hearts, through our words, with Christ. Feel free to share this opportunity with friends. Prize for a randomly drawn poet at month’s end!

[Thank you to cynicalview/Flickr for the use of your photo!]

 

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3 Comments

  1. Brenda
    Apr 24, 2012

    An update on Chuck Colson: He went to be with his Savior on Saturday, April 21. He will be missed greatly, but he has joined the cloud of witness whom we’ll get to join one day. Celebrating all God has done in and through Colson’s life.

  2. Linda Tang (http://www NULL.lindawriteson NULL.com)
    Apr 30, 2012

    I have always had such a heart for prisoners, and this post has encouraged me to pray to see how I can be used by God to encourage those who are suffering in the confinement of their earthly home. Thankfully, many have been saved and a new home awaits them, but until that day, the affects of their solitude can only be sorrowful. And Chuck Colson was an incredible light to a helpless population that needed to hear the truth about their Savior, receive forgiveness and experience redemption. Thank you for the work you are doing to support this ministry and for the words you carry to those who desperately need daily, spiritual encouragement.

    • Brenda
      May 1, 2012

      Thanks, Linda. We had a group from church become volunteers with Crossroad this year and they grade Bible lessons from prisoners each month. They are finding it really meaningful. The group is headed by a man who was formerly a police officer and he has always wanted to do ministry to prisoners. I’m so grateful for their involvement.

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