Monday, May 26, 2008

Prison Transition Team

Last night I got the chance to see our Prison transition team in action. Bob, Rick, Jim have been leading the charge for the last six months on this new ministry. Every Monday night they go into the Work Release Center on South Michigan street and meet with 20 to 25 guys that have been in prison for drugs, murder, robbery… the tuff stuff. This is their final step toward re-entry and it typically last 6 months to one year. If they mess up they get sent back to state prison for the remainder of their sentence. It is a big deal.

Then on Sunday, many of them use their only 3-hour weekly pass to come to GCC’s service. Most meet up with their wives or girlfriends and kids for family time. I think it is so cool that the most “normal” (and enjoyable) time for these guys is the 3 hours they spend at church every Sunday morning. I can’t help but think that most would not have been locked up for 15+ years if the church would have been able to be a normal routine in their lives before they began to take steps toward prison. Then again, what would America look like today if the majority of families felt it was “normal” to go to church on Sunday morning?

Last night started off with a BBQ for all 120 inmates in the courtyard. I invited my good friend Peewee to come with me. Peewee spent 15 years of his life in Michigan City for accidentally killing his brother. We met 2 years ago when we were renovating Monroe Circle Community Center. Peewee ran into a man that he had spent 15 years with at Michigan City. Peewee spoke truth into this man’s life and invited him to the Celebrate Recovery class that night. He showed up. Peewee has influence and he was leveraging it for Kingdom work.

25 guys packed into this small room and began the introductions. Hi, my name is… and I am a…. Then Bob turned on a DVD and they began to sing. My mind flashed back to scripture when Paul was imprisoned and began to sing and introduced the jailer to Jesus. Is there a guard in the house that needs to hear and see? Maybe a handful of the other 85 guys that are about to go into lock down for the night?

On the way out as Peewee tried to open the door to the outside world it would not open up. Based upon the look on his face I can only imagine the feelings that raced though his mind. We talked about how far he has come. How he never wants to go back (to prison) and the great adventure God has in front of him.

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