Several months ago, I retired but not really! I had worked for several years under a contract to provide chaplaincy services to ex-offenders. I continue to be in touch with these same people. Just this week I had conversations with folks who had been convicted of some very serious crimes. Few people in society want to be associated with these guys! I don’t mind in the least being associated with them. It is the bureaucracy of the criminal justice system that I do not miss at all.
I am pleased to be able to tell the most marginalized that there is hope. I am not naive (you wouldn’t last long in this particular world if you were naive). I know that these folks have committed some heinous crimes. I do, though, have a message of hope. I offer a hope of: a possibility for a new and useful life, the possibility of forgiveness, and true freedom. Mine is a message of hope and hope has a name. His name is Jesus. It is through a life changing encounter with Him, that my ex-offender friends can experience these benefits. I have seen individuals hear and respond to this message. The changes are dramatic. Lives that were only harmful are made useful. Shattered ex-offenders are finding wholeness and begun to live lives of giving back to a society they once only took from. Not everyone responds to this message of hope but as Paul says in Romans 10 “How shall they hear without someone preaching to them?” Wayne Gretzky once said “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” It is gratifying to see the seed of hope take root and produce amazing fruit in people’s lives.
The “justice system” does not place a high value on hope. It places a high value on reports counting things that do not count! The organization which should be most pleased with changed lives instead insists that this is not the work and talk of new hope is not valued.
I can’t help but think of Jesus relationship with organized religion in the days of his earthly walk. The very ones who should have greeted their Messiah with joy are upset when he does not meet their skewed expectations. Instead it is the marginalized, the outcasts and the criminals who so readily responded to his offer of hope. It was the least and the last and the lost who first discovered that hope has a name. His name is Jesus!
I am glad to continue this journey with my friends. I am pleased to continue offering a message of hope and a new useful life to all who will respond positively to the one who is hope.
While, I no longer receive a salary for chaplaincy services, I continue to rely on the generosity of those who share the vision of Street Hope. Our plans for Roamin’ Holiday are well under way and excitement is building. Thank you for your prayers and support.