Due to the harsh waters of the San Francisco Bay the prison had a reputation for being escape proof. “During its 29 years of operation, the penitentiary claimed that no prisoner successfully escaped. A total of 36 prisoners made 14 escape attempts, two men trying twice; 23 were caught alive, six were shot and killed during their escape, two drowned, and five are listed as ‘missing and presumed drowned'” (Wikipedia)
Prisons are notoriously rough places with huge problems of violence, inmates learning new ways to do evil and recidivism. But today we consider the redemption that extends into the harshest conditions.
I have friends that are prison chaplains such as Manny Cordero, who I went to college with. Manny served his entire career in the federal prison system and is now the leader of our chaplaincy department (my boss). I also consider the labors of several friends in churches I served such as Mike and his wife Kathy who serve as volunteers in a prison in North Carolina and Rick and Tom who take turns leading Bible studies in a prison in Massachusetts. Rick has done this since 1993! What incredible sacrifice with often disappointing results.However I get to work with the good results! Yesterday morning I visited with Eric, who spent 15 years in a state prison here in Pennsylvania. Eric is doing a good job staying on the right track for several years now and we have the opportunity to encourage him and several other ex-cons we see in the course of our work. (Eric gave me permission to share his photo and story.)
Listing the characteristics of a faithful follower Jesus stated, “I was in prison, and you came to Me”. Explaining what he meant He told His disciples (including us) that“Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me”.
We may not all be called to prison ministry but we can all pray for the ministry that is taking place behind prison walls.
For several years I have enjoyed the song “Chain Breaker” by Zach Williams. I just found this version recorded live in a Tennessee prison (link below). What a blessing to see the men sing out. May they all experience the power of the Chain Breaker!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, thank you that whom the Son sets free is free indeed. What a blessing Your redemption is to all of us who have experienced it. We especially pray today for the ministry taking place in prisons all around the world. It can be very hard and discouraging but we thank You for those who are being redeemed and experiencing the wonder of new life. You continue to seek and save the lost and to break the chains that bind us. Amen