http://positivelifestylelc.com/personal-experiences-prison/ ←If you missed Part 1
Walking in to the jail house, the first thing I heard was “Oh man, look at her. Is it my birthday?” All the boys laugh.
This time walking in, most of the boys were “hanging out” and talking in the lounge area. I don’t remember their conversations but I do remember hearing curse words and the volume of the house was much higher than my previous visits. One of the boys was talking to the guard and was upset about something that had happened earlier in the day.
I took a deep breath, smiled and asked for whoever wanted to come spend some time with us to talk, follow to the front room. This time, out of the 15 or so boys, about 6 followed.
Entering the front room, I started wondering again what I would talk about. After introducing myself and asking what everyone’s name was, I looked over and noticed one of the boys had brought his Bible with him. I asked what he was currently reading and he answered “The Book of Matthew.” I followed up asking if there was a certain verse he was focusing on or enjoyed most and his answer lead to the discussion of Matthew 5:43-48.
Love for Enemies
43 You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’
44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do no even pagans do that?
48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Focusing on just these verses, we really dug deep into the meaning of what these words meant to us personally. I started by expressing the power of forgiveness and how forgiving someone really frees you from the stress and heartache. We are all given “tests” in life which are disguised as complications, problems, choices, etc. I do believe we receive the same test over and over until we learn how to handle and better ourselves through it instead of letting it ruin and destroy us.
One of the boys shared his story of being caught up in a gang when his crime happened. Serving for robbery and assault for a incident he didn’t do on his own, he expressed that he had a lot of hate built up in his heart. All of the people he thought were there to support him and back him were gone in the matter of minutes. He knew he was guilty and he wasn’t making excuses for what he did, but he did hold on to extra anger, indignation, sadness, distrust, because he felt like “it wasn’t fair.”
As the conversation continued, the same boy shared that he grew up in the church and lost his way. When he found himself sitting in jail, alone, he turned to the one constant reliable thing, his Bible. By working on his relationship with God, he was starting to learn to forgive the people that betrayed him and also forgive himself for what he has done.
Now I’m not saying what these boys did was no big deal. The crimes they committed deserved jail time, but after hearing their stories and what they are doing to become better, I encouraged them to forgive themselves for their past mistakes.
The group that night shared their stories. We spoke about changes the boys would need to make in order to make better choices once they are released. Jokes were told. A silly game was played. We prayed and most importantly, we learned from one another.
I didn’t walk in ready. I didn’t walk in the expert. With prayer and the inner desire to just want to spend time and spread positivity with the boys, it was a successful evening.