Prison Ministry Thanks God during COVID
By Jody Griffin
Avery and Mitchell County
“Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:4-5, KJV)
Untold times over the past year or so, correctional chaplains have been called upon to provide care to the incarcerated as they have experienced the illness and death of loved ones. Whether or not those deaths were COVID-19 related, there have been limitations put in place to protect the incarcerated and institutional staff. These limitations have resulted in the inability of many incarcerated individuals to properly process their grief. Repeatedly chaplains have assured the grieving that the rules on the outside have been restrictive as well. Such assurance has offered little comfort…
Witnessing such grief on a large scale has sharpened the chaplains’ focus. For this particular chaplain, the lessons have been many.
The above verses of Scripture speak hope amid these days of tribulation. When we allow God to bring us comfort in our travail, then we are equipped in that comfort to offer the comfort of God to those around us. And at that point, we are most human.
My heart overflows with thanksgiving for the compassion seen in the thoughtful treatment of offenders dealing with such a tragedy, even as that staff member may have privately suffered their own personal loss. If there is any comfort to be found in this horrific reality known as COVID-19, it is the fact that we share in the anguish of others.
Never mind the divisions that separate us, we are united in our suffering.
Thank God for the wisdom of prison administrators who have granted some small tokens of relief in the form of connection with families and loved ones. Thank God for the institutional leaders who have spent sleepless nights formulating action plans for everyone’s safety. Thank God for chaplains who have encouraged their respective populations and staff. Thank God for the comfort found in Jesus Christ, because this comfort makes a true and lasting impact on everyone involved. Thank God for the faithful prayers and support of the incarcerated and those who are employed to oversee them. Thank God for your prayers and support are given to ensure an ongoing ministry presence with the gates and behind the walls. Thank God for the comfort found in knowing that though we may be separated from loved ones, friends, and families, we can find comfort in Christ Jesus.
Thank God for those who read these words and who remember the marvelous Promise found in God’s Word. Thank God for signs of hope that the worst is or may soon be behind us. Thank God. Amen.
Jody Griffin is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Spruce Pine and Community Funded Chaplin at Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution. If you would like more information contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more good Christian news from Jody HERE.