Thursday, February 22, 2007

shadow of the bars

I think after a leadership meeting for Celebrate Recovery I attended last night I'm realizing that what goes on behind bars is going to dominate my life. In a good way, I mean. Because of my son, it started in a bad way. I felt, from the other side of bars slamming shut, the hopelessness of being connected to someone in prison, someone you love and want the best for, someone you are not giving up on or leaving. The bars slam shut over your life as a family member of a loved one incarcerated as they do for the prisoner. There is no getting around it.

What I found out last night is that there are other people out there who have made the journey and are helping others make the journey to freedom. Real freedom, I mean, not just being physically out in the world again, but learning how to live well in that world, a world they could not navigate well before. It has been seven or eight months since I've been a part of this group of remarkable people, and in that time the group has spread to three rehabs and four units of the local prison. Organizations that were resistant to any form of the type of help we were offering are now asking and rolling out the red carpet as it were.

We believe that Jesus Christ is the answer firstly, to any problem in life. Everyone is a prisoner to their own sin nature, their own weaknesses and misguided self-will. You do not have to be behind actual bars. But those who are have an even greater need for an answer, something that really does work. Everyone in our group has been there in one way or another, and accept a personal responsibility because of their faith and solidarity with those who are so lost to go back and reach out a hand-a life, really. They are our brothers and sisters, and oddly enough, are usually the ones who experience true change because they know how lost they are. Part of this mission is to help those not connected with the prison population to deal with their own personal prejudices and reach out as well. Doesn't matter that the incarcerated are behind concrete walls and out of society's view. The prison population is exploding, and we really need as a society to answer the question, are we our brother's keeper? If this problem is not addressed, the cost to families, taxpayers, society as a whole, our future, beyond even looking at the individuals involved personally, is huge. HUGE....and two years ago I could have cared less, even as a believer in Christ. We don't have the luxury to be ignorant or so uncaring anymore.


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