This is why it is so very important for all of us to rely more on God's resources than human ones, even if they have the best of intentions. I do think it is good to work in support of viable community programs but in the end no program can be as flexible and personal as each of us needs when we are hurting and afraid.
So whether you are working with an established team, working to establish a ministry, or feel you are too old to help, please remember that the basis of the best work is done when the people involved stay ethically and practically grounded. Anyone can help.
1. Anyone, in any place, can pray. Pray for those in need, in pain, without hope, awash in loneliness. Pray for the hands and feet people who are working with these folks. Pray for leaders, board members, administrative staff and volunteers with a heart for those in need and in pain.
2. Anyone, in any place, can speak in supportive and kind ways to the hands and feet people doing the work on the ground. You can share the news of the work they do to aid in connecting those needing comfort and aid with those offering it.
3. Many programs involved in jails and prisons can use volunteers to write notes of encouragement or review Bible studies from home. Please do this with the support of a group! There are several operating around the nation and it is VERY important to understand the proper ways to keep both yourself AND the incarcerated folks safe. It is VERY affirming work and very worthwhile for ALL who participate. Please contact me if you have questions or need additional resources.
4. Even small donations make a big difference when God gathers from many people. So whether you are thinking about making a provision in an estate or contributing what you get by using store coupons, nothing is too small, too unimportant, or speaks more clearly of your commitment to all of God's children.
5. Many programs exist that are supported by folks who feel called to walk into jails and prison to lead worship, facilitate Bible Study, fund raise for the chaplains (many of whom must provide their own support), serve as reading coaches and life mentors. AGAIN: There are several operating around the nation and it is VERY important to understand the proper ways to keep both yourself AND the incarcerated folks safe. It is VERY affirming work and very worthwhile for ALL who participate. Please contact me if you have questions or need additional resources.
6. As the numbers of people incarcerated explodes (per capita 7 times more today than in 1980) and those under court supervision continues to expand there are increasing needs for helping folks who are working to turn their lives around: to find mentors, welcoming churches, job training, jobs and family life coaching. Reentry program needs are great but again, need to be done wisely and safely.
The most important thing to remember is that very few of us are in a position to "fix" things for incarcerated folks and their families. But each of us can offer kindness, demonstrate in practical ways our belief in renewal and redemption and walk with struggling individuals and families.
Won't you start by praying today?