“For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?” “Leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and put fertilizer (manure) on it. If it bears fruit next year fine! If not, then cut it down.” (Luke 13:7-9)
Give the inmate another chance for that is whom the fig tree can represent. Because the tree (inmate) is not doing well on the inside or out, a different approach is offered. Some people are stuck in the ground that has been used up. Chaplains are gardeners who are able to loosen the soil and apply fertilizer. Not that manmade chemical “stuff” and psychobabble, but the good wholesome organic fertilizer of God’s Word and Love.
I am not saying that God’s Word and Love are manure but (bear with me now) we need the unadulterated outpouring of the Lord as our nourishment to be able to grow in grace. Prison can be the ideal condition to be fed and nourished to then be able to grow and bear good fruit. Society says pull them out and throw them away whereas Jesus says that there is hope for the fruit that is hidden within.
It takes people who are willing to get their hands dirty to help the incarceraed. That would be the chaplains and others who volunteer their hearts and time to reach the “throwaways” of society. Onesimus is in the fertilizing business for God’s precious plants.
If you were to be so bold as to ask the members of your church or neighborhood if they had been in prison at some time of their life or directly associated with someone who had, you would be surprised at the number. Incarceration is a fact of life in the United States. At least 50,000 men and women are in state prison in Pennsylvania alone. This is not even including the 63 county prisons that are overflowing with dads, moms, sons, daughters, grandparents, and friends.
I pray that you give thought to supporting our ministry that helps train people in a new way of life as opposed to accepting the cost of approximately $43,000 per year to keep someone locked up. We are inside to help change lives for the blessing of society as the “new creations in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17) return to your town.
What statistics do I have to prove that our ministry works? The system would love to have figures to shout success or failure of a plan but I offer you the testimony of changed hearts and lives of those whom have returned to your church, neighborhood, and families. Ask them if it was serving time or serving Jesus that made a difference.
Blessings to you all.