It looked like a typical 5K, the same as any you might see in cities across America. But for those who ran, the Second Chances 5K meant far more than a brisk run and a medal at the finish line.
As the director of communications for Prison Fellowship®, my job is to reach out to local media to encourage them to cover stories like this. While the races began at Concordia University and simultaneously in two correctional facilities in Minnesota, different media organizations were reporting on the story. Mission accomplished, or so I thought.
I watched as more than 400 men at Lino Lakes Correctional Facility ran their 5K. A young man approached me and introduced himself as Matt. He was the editor of the correctional facility's newspaper—keeping the prisoners up-to-date on things going on inside and outside of the prison walls. I immediately connected with Matt and his photographer, Roger. Newspaper? Journalism? That's my passion!
Matt loves writing. Some of his articles were even published in one of Minnesota's biggest newspapers. I could relate so much to him and Roger. And then they told me that they both struggled with addiction problems. That hit home for me, and I told them so.
I wanted these young men to know that addiction to any type of drug can't keep you from your dreams. I was a living example of that, thanks to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As a recovering alcoholic, I know that I was one bad decision away from being where Matt and Roger are now. When I shared my story with them, they understood that I wasn't different from them, nor did I have my life all together. The barriers between us broke down.
WE NEED SECOND CHANCES
What I didn't realize at first was that a few miles away, Matt's parents were participating in the Second Chances 5K at Concordia University.
I wish I could have met the parents who raised Matt. I wanted to tell them that God has taken hold of Matt, and he's doing well! This young man had met Christ—the same Christ who changed my life—and that was the common bond between us, stronger than our love for journalism and our past addictions.
Here's my assessment of this weekend for you: Matt, Roger, me, and you are all one step away from making a stupid decision that lands us behind bars. We are people who need second chances.
And God, through His Son Jesus Christ, made it possible for us to have that second chance.
When I think about that, it blows my mind. The Creator of the universe wants to know Matt, Roger, me, and you personally. How awesome is that?
Whether you are a Prison Fellowship volunteer or donor, former prisoner or Angel Tree kid, we hope you know how grateful we are to partner with you. Together we can end the "Second Prison!"