I Was in Prison

I was in prison and you gave me a second chance.

Paul Staley was a self-described “peace-loving man.” A product of the sixties. A flower child. A hippy. He did a little LSD, bought and sold marijuana. Live and let live was his motto.

And then one day, one of those drug deals went terribly wrong, and a man ended up dead. Paul himself never touched the gun. No one claimed he did. It didn’t matter. By law, because he was admittedly involved in the crime that led to the murder, he was culpable.

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Being Barnabas

“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering,” Hebrews 13:3.

Prisons in ancient times generally served a different purpose than modern-day prisons, and when we read of captives in the Bible, the larger context usually pertains to the Israelites in exile from their homeland or followers of Christ being persecuted for their faith. The reference is not usually to someone being punished for a violent crime. So, does God really call us to minister to men and women who are in, or coming out of, the correctional system? Yes, for a number of reasons, I think He does.

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From My Perspective

By the Honorable John T. Mitchell, District Judge, Kootenai County, Idaho

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Kids in Lock-Up

Danny Beard has been running UGM’s volunteer ministry at Juvenile Detention since 1985. Every once in a while, he runs into someone around town who recognizes him from there – a former detainee who’s doing well and has his/her life back on track.

For example, a young man stopped Danny at church. “Are you Danny Beard? I was in juvenile detention in the 80’s. I remember you being there.” He then introduced Danny to his wife and children. Another time, a Subway employee recognized him: “I met you in juvenile detention. I’m doing good, going to church, got a job, staying out of trouble.”

But honestly, Danny said, those encounters are rare. What Danny respects about the group of men and women who serve with him at Juvenile Detention is that they are incredibly faithful in spite of the fact that success stories are few and far between. “I tell our volunteers, we can’t be looking for epic results. We’ve just got to be faithful. That’s all God’s really called us to do – be faithful and allow God’s Word to work in their hearts.”

Faithful is the perfect descriptor for these volunteers: Benny King, Jerry McGlade, Don Smith, Bob McCaslin, Jill Wyrick-Doornink, Jim Jensen, Roy & Sharyle Croswhite and Sherri Hopkins. Most have been serving for 20 years plus.

The group meets at Juvenile Detention every Wednesday night from 6:15 to 8:00 p.m. They sing, study the Bible and pray. Volunteers also hold a chapel service on Sunday mornings. Many of these teens have never heard the gospel. They come from broken homes with “little to no parental supervision – no guidance in their lives – they’re pretty much raising themselves.”

So when these kids ask for prayer, it’s a big deal. “Prayer has not been part of their lives – at all.” But God is at work. Here are a few of their requests:

  • “I need to change and quit drugs.”
  • “Pray I see the light of God and quit running.”
  • “I would like my son to find me when he grows up. I’m 17. I gave him to foster care.”
  • “I’d like to see my family get back together as a normal family.”
  • "I would like to finish high school.”
  • “Pray that my brother and me can change to be better and close to God.”

    Each week Danny and his crew meet with 25 to 35 kids at Juvenile Hall who have prayer requests similar to these. Will you join us in praying for them? ●

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