August 18, 2011
Thursday, 4:00 p.m.
Letter #187: Don’t Think About Me
I had an interesting talk with my twin brother on Monday. I’d called him to ask if he could be involved in the life of Phillip, a young man I’m discipling. I’d like Michael to give Phillip—who leaves prison in a year—some godly advice from a youth pastor’s perspective. In the same fashion as Paul, who urged those he was close with to receive various disciples of his or believers (such as Timothy, Titus, Epaphroditus, Mark, and Onesimus) with love as they would receive Paul himself, I asked Michael to “receive” Phillip. (The gracious bro that he is, he readily said yes, though I’d like to think my tears of compassion helped a bit.)
On our call, Michael said he’d just really been struck again by the reality of my incarceration, and he expressed remorse for not thinking of me more often. Frankly, I was a bit relieved to know I’m not constantly thought of, I told him. I see that as an indicator of God’s abundant peace over our family, if you’re not worrying about me.
As I’ve stated before, I would much rather know that people are thinking of those who are currently in prison for doing something right—such as standing up for their faith. When we pray for them and support them, I believe we are fulfilling the heart of Christ’s admonition to treat prisoners as if they were Him, or Paul’s teaching in Hebrews to “remember those in prison.” They are the heroes of our faith and should be treated as such.
And as for my brother’s concern for his lapse of thinking about a prisoner? He happens to be in Thailand for two weeks, where he will, among other things, be bringing food and comfort to families incarcerated there. I couldn’t be more grateful for my family’s heart for those shunned by society. It is this selfless character that I hope for Phillip to emulate—the character of Christ.
Thank you for praying for me! I had great success meeting with our unit’s case manager about the Pre-Release class. She’s asked me to draft a curriculum outline for the complimentary class I’d like to teach on character, setting goals, and business development. I want it to be a practical guide to establishing and following an exit strategy. Please pray for favor with our new unit manager.
Alberto is a man I’ve recently begun meeting with who is due to be released in about a year. He was originally referred to me for business advice—his goal was to open a breakfast diner when he got out—but it became obvious that he needed a lot more basic advice about values, priorities, and time management. I set an appointment with him after he told me that he really needs to do something before he gets out. He’d stared in wonder as I shared my current goals with him and said he wanted to do something like that for himself.
Today, as we met, I discussed the need to be driven by our values and live with meaning. I told him that our relationships are TOP priority—Jesus summed up the law and prophets by telling us to love God and others. That led nicely into asking about his relationship with God. He believes in God, prays to Him, and said he’s going to Heaven, but he had no idea why he’d be in Heaven. I asked, and he said he had no idea what the Bible teaches about how to get to Heaven. “Since you know you’ll die someday,” I told him, “that might be a good priority of yours—see what God says about Heaven.”
He doesn’t have a Bible, so I’ll get him one from the chapel, and I told him we’ll discuss how to get to Heaven at our next meeting—tomorrow. He thanked me profusely for taking time with him, since he sees how busy I am. I assured him that meeting with him is one of my God-given responsibilities, thus it becomes a priority placement on my calendar. I’m so looking forward to ushering him into the Kingdom. It’s been quite a while since I’ve led someone to Christ … I’ve told many, but it seems I’ve only planted the seed or watered it, not reaped the harvest. God carefully teaching me to love those He loves—all people!—has brought me to this point. I think I may have found my niche: helping guys discover their true priorities and getting their lives in alignment with those priorities. Thank you for keeping these men in prayer.