Saturday, August 29, 2009

Where will I sleep?

Several weeks ago, the women of block 12 were discussing how long they had been incarcerated and when they hoped to be released.

One of them said, "I'm getting out in 3 weeks. I should be happy but all I can think about is where will I sleep?"

Homelessness is one of the greatest problems facing ex-offenders. During the time spent in jail or prison, most of them lose their jobs, their homes, their possessions. Starting over is difficult, if not impossible.

Have you read "Under The Overpass" by Mike Yankoski, Multnomah Books, 2005? This young man and his friend Sam crisscrossed the United States living among the homeless for several months. His book is a snapshot of the 3.5 million men and women who live on the streets of America.

Mike challenges all of us to take a long, hard look at the problem of homelessness and to consider what we are called to do. He has many suggestions on how we can help and says, "...I think the most meaningful gift might be your genuine attention and caring."

I couldn't agree more, Mike. We all need genuine attention and caring.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

What does the Lord require of you?

The prophet Micah tells us: "To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8).

This past week, when I met with my two friends, Pamela and Joy, they discussed the difficulties they were experiencing on the outside. Their frustrations in finding employment were at the top of the list.
  • The time spent in prison did not prepare them for taking care of themselves once they were out.
  • Employers no longer considered them as candidates for jobs.
  • Tax deductions and Federal bonding programs were not recognized by employers as a benefit.
  • They have no place to live because they have no income.
  • They must pay their parole officer a monthly fee - even when they are not working.
Are we acting justly when we refuse to accept an individual's time spent in prison as payment for their offense?

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Old Friends

The other night, I had dinner with two friends, Joy and Pamela, former inmates who contributed their stories to my forthcoming book: The Women of Block 12: Voices From A Jail Ministry. We met six years ago in the early days of my ministry at the county jail. There was no question, in my mind, who taught who. Those beautiful, spirit filled women ministered to their fellow inmates AND to me. I just showed up on Wednesday nights and let God work through them.

Six years later, with prison behind them (for good, I hope) they continued the task of mentoring others. I sat across the table and listened to their excitement in seeing each other again and sharing the memories of their days and nights in Block 12.

"Do you remember how timid Linda was in the beginning?" Joy laughed. "We fixed that."

"Yeah," Pamela said. "We taught her how to fast and pray."

Indeed you did, my friends and I will always be grateful. I love you both!

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Guest Speaker At The Jail

Guest speaker & psychotherapist, Jill Turcott-Nielsen donated her time this past Wednesday to bring hope to the Women of Block 12. Her message: Developing Self-esteem. Thirteen women participated in the hour-long discussion. Their most frequent question - "How can I earn the trust of my family and children after all the things I've done to hurt them?" Jill encouraged the women to look for the gifts that God has given them and rebuild their lives on those strengths.

For more information about Jill and her therapy services visit: Psychology Today

Visit my website: for more information on jail ministry.