There are many restorative justice ministries ongoing in the Commonwealth. The Kentucky Annual Conference is one of the top supporters of jail and associated ministries. The resident bishop’s Advocacy Team strives to equip and assist any of these ministries within the conference. Here is one example of what’s going on.
The Grace Emmaus of Kentucky community of the Walk to Emmaus movement is heavily involved in prison ministry. Primarily, the ministry consists of hosting Residents Encounter Christ weekends. What a wonderful thing to be part of the ministry and to see the miracles God does in the lives of inmates in Kentucky!
On a recent weekend, the community spent three days with the residents of a United States Penitentiary, worshipping together, sharing agape love and bringing the word. The movement is purely ecumenical, with many denominations represented on each REC. For this weekend, the team consisted of 40 volunteers, approximately a quarter being United Methodists.
Jesus was exalted! Lives were changed! Souls were saved! Praise God!
Let me share a brief story from the REC just to give a glimpse of His work on the inside.
Inmates have three names: Their first name or given name, which is basically never used inside the prison. Their last name or surname, which is the name that they and the staff use to address one another. And sometimes they have a nickname, which is okay for other inmates to use.
His first name is Jibari, and his nickname is "Half." On his nametag, he wrote it "1/2." I overheard someone ask him if he got the nickname because he is so short. He said, "No. My cousin and I were very close on the street. We went everywhere together. People called us "Half and Half." Therefore, I am "Half."
Jibari accepted Jesus as his Savior Saturday night! With great joy he prayed for salvation and boldly proclaimed that he belongs to Jesus. I wish you could have seen the handshakes, hugs, back clapping, and smiles and heard the rejoicing among the inmates that night! Not to mention the excited response of the team, especially his table leader and assistant table leader.
During the closing, Jibari, as well as the others were invited to comment on the weekend. The comments are preceded by the person stating their name, table name and the REC number. Jibari took the mike and announced, "My name is now ‘Whole'!” That is for sure!
Jan Brown-Thompson is the chairperson of the Advocacy Team. Feel free to contact her or me (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any stories to share or have any questions about restorative justice ministries.