Ground zero, words that conjure up visions of destruction, mayhem and death for many individuals. You may first think of 9-11 in New York or the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma. Maybe you think of the beginning of the AIDS epidemic or Ebola. Perhaps on a smaller scale yet none the less tragic the massacre of innocent children in an Amish school house in Nickel Mines Pennsylvania. Have you ever considered prison as ground zero? I would encourage you to view prison as ground zero in a positive way as opposed to a preconceived negative. Ground zero generally means the center or source of a dramatic occurrence causing destruction but prison can have just the opposite effect.
What if? Just as a seed that is planted in the ground must die to then grow into a productive plant so to a person who is “planted” in prison can die to self and then grow to be a productive citizen upon release. Prison more often than not is the cataclysmic outcome of a sinful and destructive way of thinking. The beginning of a new way of thinking that leads to a new way of living in turn begins at this new zero called prison.
When a person is saved and then becomes a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), they are similar to the start of new plans for a new building or life that would not have been built without an initial death or destruction. The plans are not to make things just as they were before, but to eliminate that which was faulty or wrong and replace it with a new and improved model.
I can relate to Paul as a chaplain/pastor when he wrote to the church of Corinth about building on a foundation of Christ. As an expert builder (26 years), I lay a firm foundation each day inside the walls of Chester County Prison (1 Cor. 3:10-12) yet the responsibility of building upon it still rests on the inmate. The inmates (New Creations in Christ) need nurturing, teaching and encouragement to succeed in the new life that can start at Ground Zero.
“Each man’s work will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work” (1 Cor. 3:13-15). Chaplains are the emergency response team charged with going into the fire and try to help save the lives of those who are going down in flames. “Anything that can withstand the fire must be put through the fire” (Numbers 31:22-23). This is not a maybe, but a when that happens and an offender is released back into society. We are striving for all individuals who are released from prison to be able to continue to grow as viable additions to your neighborhoods.
To know what chaplains do as first responders is only a phone call or email away: 610-932-4429 for our chairman of the board or firstname.lastname@example.org for me. I would very much like to share with you and your fellowship or organization the vital role we play in this drama of life. Please extend an invitation so we can schedule a meeting or service to explain what we do and how vital your support is in this vital mission field.