The son of some dear friends of mine died recently, and they asked me to speak at the service honoring his life. In nearly three decades as a pastor, I was called upon many times to offer words of hope and consolation to families and friends who were grieving.
It is no secret that existing state and federal prison systems are too often models of inefficiency and ineffectiveness. Outdated facilities have been unable to keep up with growing prison populations. And despite the astronomical costs of housing prison inmates (a study of New York state facilities estimates that annual cost per prisoner is a staggering $167,731 – enough to send that same prisoner to an Ivy League school with full room and board for four years), recidivism rates remain around 40 percent.
Restoration is all about seeing God’s Kingdom come in the lives of our neighbors and in the culture, bringing them back to the whole, joyful state He originally intended. But that restoration must happen in us before it happens through us.
Every individual is addicted to something, and every individual has an opportunity to be restored. In the most recent Frontlines, Prison Fellowship CEO Jim Liske recounts the story of a current PF volunteer and former methamphetamine addict who has become a part of the restoration process in the lives of others.
My father lived through the Great Depression. Like many men and women who experienced that period of want, he has a hard time throwing things away. He has sheds full of things he has saved, because “someone might need it someday.”
Restoration is the theme of God’s Word and the purpose of His activity throughout history.
The early chapters of Genesis tell us how a loving God built an environment where His image-bearers, the crown of His creation, could dwell in perfect harmony with Him, with one another, and with all created things.