There are currently around 2,300,000 inmates locked up in federal and State prisons and county jails in the United States alone. If you count the numbers of the families who are also affected by the incarcerated individuals, the numbers are staggering.
When I go into schools to speak, I start by asking a couple questions. I have all the students stand up and tell them to sit down if one of the questions applies to them. One of the questions I ask is: “ How many of you have an immediate family member, extended family member, or close friends who is or was in jail or prison. ” It ’ s heartbreaking to see how many students are affected!
Like when we are involved in addictions and affect many of those around us, it is no different in the criminal world. We not only affect the victims of our crimes, our communities, the court systems and our economy, but it especially impact s those closest to us: our mothers and fathers, our husbands and wives, our children …
For those who have never committed a crime, or got caught, the reality of those incarcerated is not something we think about too often, mostly people complain about it when it happens in their community. But to those who have family members who are affected, it is an immediate reality.
My point is this. The holiday seasons are upon us, and we get so caught up with our own lives and shopping and cooking and the craziness of life that we tend to forget about the millions of people sitting behind bars forgotten.
As someone who spent most of my life behind bars, I know the reality of the depression that goes on during the holiday season. Not that I ever celebrated them or even had people I loved, but when you're taken away from everything you start thinking about stuff. You see all the inmates around you who are forgotten and don ’ t get letters and don ’ t have people in touch with them. And even the ones who do have family, it is still a very depressing time because they no longer are able to connect with their family the way they normally did.
I don ’ t care who you are and what crime you committed, we are ALL created in the image of God, and we ALL have infinite value to Him. While sitting behind concrete, steel and razor wire we are forgotten by many, but the God who is Lord and Creator still loves them as much as He did all their lives, even while committing their crime.
Again, these individuals are our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters, and someone is hurting and missing them.
Can we take some time out this holiday season and remember them? Remember their families and maybe go the extra mile and bless their family? Maybe write a letter to an inmate? Find a ministry or individual who goes into the jails and prisons and send a card along or give a message to send along, or how about just sending a prayer to those incarcerated?
Christma s is coming, and this holiday represents the birth of Jesus Christ. Why did He come? The Lord Jesus always kept in view the purpose of His coming to earth. He states it in Luke 19:10, the theme verse of the Gospel of Luke: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Jesus is stating this purpose in response to the crowd, which grumbled that He had gone to be the guest of a man who was a sinner, the chief tax collector, Zaccheus. Jesus is saying, “Precisely! I am going to be the guest of a great sinner because that is the express reason I came to this earth as the Son of Man: to seek and to save those who are lost in sin.”
If this was Jesus ’ purpose, should it not be ours? While we are our seeking the best deals while shopping, waiting outside stores waiting for them to open, waiting in lines for hours to get that deal, cooking like crazy, trying to get the tree and decorations up, getting all the cooking done and planning our trips … Jesus continues to seek out those who are lost and save them!
What are you seeking this holiday season? Remember those behind bars.