One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." -Luke 23:39-42
I am serving on the Kairos prison ministry team going into St. Clair Correctional Institution for 4 day this coming Thursday –Sunday, the 10th-13th. We are going in to share the Gospel with a group of its inmates. St. Clair is a level 5 maximum security prison. In the past year, there were more deaths per inmate in St. Clair then any other prison in the U.S. One of the things each of the team members do is write each of the 29 men a letter they get Sunday afternoon. I sat down now to start this and I am going through the list of 29 men I will be spending 4 days locked up with, and now I am beginning to write letters to them.
· 24 have murder, manslaughter or attempted murder convictions
· 9 have rape, sodomy, sexual torture, and/or child molestation convictions
· Most have robbery and burglary charges
· Only one has a sentence of 20 years or less
· 28 have sentences or 40 years or more
· Over half have LWP (life without parole) sentences, they will die in prison.
All three of the prison chapel workers serving on the weekend have LWP sentences and will die in prison, two have murder convictions.
There are ten cha-chas (inmates who serve as table runners and servers on weekend) All ten have LWP sentences and murder, rape, sodomy convictions.
My daily prayer for myself and One Direction Community is “Lord, send us the ones no one else wants.” The Lord is sending me to them next week. And I know the Lord is going before me, because if he does not my time and the time there of our Kairos team will not bare fruit. Changing and restoring these guys are way above our “pay grade,” but not above the one who out of love paid the ultimate price on the cross. His love and blood covers a multitude of sins: mine, yours and those of these 29 men. It is the covering of his blood that allows me, you and these men to be numbered with those who; “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” (Rev.7:9.)
And my prayer and hope is that because of these 4 days in prison, convicted rapists and murders, the ones no one wants, will be among the multitude standing next to you and I before Christ’s throne.
Read Luke 23:39-42; Matt 11:19, 25:35-40, Mark 2:15-17; 1 Peter 3:18-19
Each morning in prison, we will begin each gathering with this prayer that follows. Pray it out loud into your community and your environment. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to put in your path those that no one else wants.
Jesus, come join us
in our journey
as we seek your will
for this community
in this environment.
Teach us to love each others
as you love us
to give ourselves
as you give yourself
that the kingdom of God
might be made present to all.