It’s a New Year, the time for making resolutions that we never intend to keep! That’s not quite true, of course. It’s good for us to work toward goals and dreams for the future, but let’s face it – it’s hard to keep our resolutions; if we’d all lost all the weight that’d we’d committed to every New Year, none of us would even exist anymore!
Saturday morning I was in an inner-city elementary school in Washington, D.C., where a friend of my daughter is a teacher. What I saw and heard there broke my heart. Ninety percent of those kids lived in the projects, and despite the earnest efforts of teachers, many of them are reading far below grade level.
Rushing through an airport to catch a recent flight, I was able to take advantage of a moving walkway that sped up my journey – and then another. I was about five steps onto the second one when I realized it wasn’t moving.
When fear and insecurity fill our hearts, we respond with selfish indifference to the needs of our neighbors. But when faith rules our lives, when we have wrestled with God and found Him true, we become secure in His ability to care for us, and we cease to doubt and fear.
On a recent trip I found myself in the ornate office of a state governor. This leader and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things – in fact, he didn’t even believe God existed, but he had invited me to come talk with him about the work of Prison Fellowship Ministries (PFM).
All I wanted to do was give the boy a hug – and I couldn’t. Between us stood a large, heavy steel door. We could only gaze at each other through a thick pane of security glass, eight inches high and eight inches wide.
Before getting the chance to serve with Prison Fellowship Ministries, I spent nine years as the senior pastor of a church in western Michigan. Over time, the congregation learned to walk hand-in-hand with returning citizens on their way to rejoining the community, but it didn’t happen until I as a pastor and we as a church started to take Jesus seriously.
We arrived at the Sanders Estes Unit in Venus, Texas and pulled into a parking lot that could have been outside hundreds of correctional institutions all over the United States. The double fence, gates, razor-wired, small slit windows, and cold heavy doors were “standard issue.”
Camp Crucis is a “nice” camp. It does not have horses, boats, or zip lines. It has crafts, a swimming pool, healthy food, solid clean facilities, and air conditioning. It also has an unlimited supply of the love of Jesus.
It was hot and dry in Granbury, Texas—just south of Fort Worth.
“My daddy’s in jail.”
My new little friend volunteered that information when he was introduced to my son and me. He is four years old and has only ever known his dad behind bars, on probation, or on parole. There have been times when he has known his dad to be running from law enforcement.