Even over the course of fewer years the capacity to keep up with the challenges of visitation rules and schedules at facilities often hours or even days away make family contact too often a rare event. Even the challenge of what to write and the outrageous expense of phone contact erode family contact, even though we know it is a primary positive indicator of post release success in rebuilding a productive life. When Pastors and church family members fail to maintain contact, prisoners wonder about their welcome when they return to their church families to rebuild their lives as redeemed followers of Christ.
If you have such a loved one, please write today. Think about this from the first Chapter of Colossians*: This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.
God's power to redeem is not limited by concrete walls or iron bars. It is not even limited by our own sin. God stands ready at all times and in all places to embrace each prodigal son and daughter. God hears prayers, even tentative, inquiring prayers, even rants of distress and tears of longing, even whispers when we can only barely dare to believe that God has time for us, much less values us.
This is the message we have been sent to share with the world and no one is in more extreme need of love, acceptance, hope, redemption and reconciliation than our loved ones in jails or prisons, their nuclear families on the outside and the churches that need to answer the call to be the hands and feet of God in the this most challenging of circumstances.