He looked so young! And vulnerable. And bewildered. The impression was magnified by the fact that he came into the room with 51 tough guys. In Randy’s case, looks are not deceiving. He is young! Old enough to be sentenced to jail for a long time, though.
The hard thing about ministry is that you desire so earnestly to change people for the better, but you do not have the power to do so. There is only One that can change anybody. And, of course, it is entirely up to the individual to allow Jesus to make the change or not.
Because we live in this fallen, broken world, people build walls. And none are higher, thicker or stronger than those built by a sister or brother in jail. Like those surrounding young Randy. No sermon or even one-on-one conversation is smooth enough to convince someone like Randy to open the door and let Jesus in.
You see, his life has been way different from most of our lives. He has seen things, been part of things, done things that we only read about or see on the news and really cannot imagine what the reality is like. Randy justifiably trusted no one.
The 52 spent the weekend hearing God’s word, enjoying praise music, in small group discussions, at creative work time, and in fellowship with one another and a ministry team from the outside. Though it’s not that important, the name of the program is Residents Encounter Christ.
It took the most powerful force in the universe to penetrate those mighty walls around Randy. Love! He testified Sunday evening, “I have never seen this before. I did not know what love was all about. Now I am surrounded by it.”
Jesus tells us that the love we have for one another is what gives us credibility in the world. That is how the lost knows that we are His. By our love for one another. And as we belong to Him and love Him, we love the unloved. And, oh, there are so many like Randy that are unloved.
Yes, it can be frustrating trying to help someone. But we are not helpless. We have love! His love! None can resist it. Please pray for the men and women in jail. Pray for all that have never experienced the love that God intends for us all to enjoy.
If you have any questions about restorative justice ministry or the work of the task force, feel free to contact David Altizer, Executive Director, (800) 929-6648 or firstname.lastname@example.org.