Recently a letter landed on my desk from Jerry Conway, a prisoner and acquaintance from New York. What he said really touched my heart and I decided to share part of his letter with you:
“I would really enjoy corresponding with other Christians. I am not allowed to correspond with other inmates at other prisons and other inmates aren’t allowed to correspond with me. Most prisons don’t allow inmates to correspond with each other.
“You just don’t know how good it feels to get a letter from someone. I watch the mailman pass by my cell everyday, and everyday I think maybe he will stop and give me a letter. It’s not just me, Lavern, a lot of guys in here have nobody and it’s hard to walk this road alone when you think nobody cares.
“I read your article in Volume 8, Issue 1, 2010 about “Discover a Friend Who Really Loves You” and you’re right, Lavern, Jesus is the best friend anyone could have, but it takes a strong heart and mind to set behind these walls and feel Jesus’ love without some encouragement and inspiration. Sometimes when people feel rejected and unloved, it’s hard to even believe that Jesus will love you.
“It’s hard for someone in the free world to understand what it’s really like in prison, but I can truly tell you, Lavern, that when that mailman walks by and puts a letter on your cell door, it’s one of the happiest moments of your life. I’ve seen grown men cry like a baby when they got a letter. I’ve seen cold, cold hearts melt like butter from a card or a letter.”
We can teach the prisoners how much Jesus loves them and wants to be their intimate friend, but many of them will never find that without encouragement from personal connections. Yes, God can give grace in a lonely situation, but it takes “a strong heart” to sit behind those walls and know God all alone.
Let’s rise up and visit those in prison. Have weekly or monthly visitation in prisons and jails. Get in touch with a prisoner (or maybe a few) and send them greeting cards and hand-written letters.
The opportunities we have in our local jail to preach and visit with the men is amazing. As Jerry says, it’s hard for someone in the free world to understand what it’s like in there.
Most prisoners are behind bars because they’ve seriously messed up their lives. If Jesus made “failures” his top priority, shouldn’t we be doing the same?
You can start today by asking us for a prisoner to write to. We’ll send you his/her letter, mailing address, and some guidelines to follow. We only ask that you encourage your new friend and show them the love and truth of Jesus.
For the Kingdom,