5th December 2023
State chaplaincy board share
Faith on the Inside
"Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering."
Hebrews 13:3 (NIV)"
Between his birth and death, Jesus did ministry.
And one of the most notable things about it was that Jesus repeatedly ministered to the forgotten.
Let's take a quick peak into this this... and from this we know that God is for EVERYONE!
There's a story in the Bible, that starts out, "When the Lord learned of this, He left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
Now He had to go through Samaria."
Now you need to know some history here.
The Jews and the Samaritans were two different races of people.
And the Jewish and Samaritan people lived in two different areas, with clearly defined boundaries.
And they hated each other.
They despised each other to such an extent that they wouldn't even travel through each other's territory.
So if a Jew wanted to go from where he or she was to a place on the other side of Samaria, that Jew would travel all the way around Samaria, which included two trips across the Jordan River, to get there.
That was the regular practice of the day for Jews.
Jews like ... Jesus.
Jesus was Jewish.
So when it says, "He had to go through Samaria," it isn't talking about a geographical necessity. No other Jewish person would have had to.
In fact, by doing this Jesus probably opened Himself up to a lot of criticism and questioning.
But Jesus had a reason why he had to go through Samaria.
The reason, we find out, is because there is a woman there.
And this woman had made a mess of her life.
She slept around with the men in town - and so they used her, and the women hated her.
And we get the idea that she is living in guilt and shame.
I am sure you know the story of the woman at the well.
In short, (really short) as Jesus travels into Samaria, he sends his followers off on an errand, and he makes his way straight to this woman.
Let us stop there - and sum this up in two sentences.
Jesus had to go through Samaria because this woman was shunned by everyone in her town.
She was ignored by people, but Jesus wanted to make sure she knew - she was not forgotten by God.
I reckon in Jesus' ministry it became obvious to everyone that Jesus was for the forgotten.
(two other examples edited out)
As prison chaplains...you go on the inside to bring the message of love, the message of faith, to be friendly to people who are far from God in the hopes that they become friends with God.
Let me assure you that we are not forgotten by God.
In the book of Isaiah we read of a time when people felt forgotten by God.
Let us quickly check out God's response in Isaiah 49 to the people.
God says, "Forgotten? (with a question mark)
Can a mother forget her baby? No.
But even if she could, I will not forget you."
So, if you feel forgotten or know someone who does, well, these words tell us, God is for the forgotten.
And he has not forgotten you.
'Faith on the inside' is for the forgotten.
It's so good to know that we're not forgotten, and it's so important for us to let others know.
To help the people we see in the prisons to explore life's choices through the lens of FAITH.
To break it down into 3 takeaways...
1. Go to that person?
2. Touch their heart with the love of God?
3. Like Jesus, tell them even if they feel shunned, ignored, they're not forgotten by God?
Faith on the inside - is what we do!
This is an edited version. The full article and Bible references are avaiable on request
We practice forgiveness of others and ourselves because Christ died for the salvation of all.
This value is lived out in conversing with prisoners to provide understanding and opportunities for the healing of past hurts, identifying the consequences of wrongful actions which may continue to inflict feelings of guilt, and providing encouragement and hope for the future.
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