Last night I witnessed something that I think is very cool. I have been attending a bible study at the local prison. One man in our small group recounted an event from his day. Another inmate had tried to intimidate and bully him to where he’d wanted to simply “deck” the guy. Instead, however, he walked away. He told us of the calm that centered over him once he was away from the man. As he spoke, you could hear the amazement in his voice, and the recognition of change within himself.
This bible study group is composed of Level I prisoners (those closest to release) and volunteers. They begin the group with prayer, and then song. Their participation is robust and sincere. Next, they share joys and requests for prayer. There is a level of camaraderie and trust that is not evident elsewhere. When they speak, they are open and very aware.
Years ago, I attended Level V services. Those men, to me, seemed desperate, lonely, and without hope. They seemed to merely exist from day to day. The men in this Level I group are different. They are hopeful. They are caring. They ask for prayers for themselves and for loved ones and friends. They are aware of world events and offer prayers for those who are affected by them. There is evidence of Christianity at work. Best of all, there is recognition of change within themselves, and indeed, a well deserved element of pride.
I look forward to being a part of this group each week. Often, it is I that feels like the fraud. These men are intentional, committed, and aware, both of themselves as well as others. Something – or perhaps Someone – is making a difference in these men! I offer my compliments to staff who may have helped with this change. I thank the Father for His amazing goodness. Most of all, however, I extend my sincerest congratulations to the men themselves who have achieved these changes. You can tell that they themselves are the ones who have committed to change. The trust and camaraderie they show to one another indicate the distance they have come. If what I see in these men each week is evidence of the men they have become, I would be proud to live next door to any one of them! I pray for their continued growth, and for their success upon release.