Time in Prison
By Jody Griffin
Avery and Mitchell County
“I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” (Matthew 25:36)
Joseph, Samson, Jeremiah, Micaiah, Zedekiah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, Silas, Paul, Epaphras, Aristarchus, Junia, and even Jesus himself are listed in the Scriptures as having spent some ‘time in prison’.
There are some familiar names included in this list, names that most people easily recognize for their significance in Biblical history. Others are much more obscure, perhaps even unknown. Their names are more likely included in the “advanced” levels of Bible trivia (only to be heard on episodes of “Jeopardy”) and their contribution(s) to the history of God’s saving work in this world is virtually forgotten. But they contributed nonetheless…This fact cannot be ignored! While their small part in the dramatic expression of Divine love to the world (See John 3:16) may not have earned them great acclaim, their service in God’s kingdom brought them into the permanent record of God’s mercy and grace found in the Holy Scriptures.
A percentage of people whose lives are inextricably bound to the testimony of the Bible spent time in prison. I shared this thought with someone recently who responded by saying ‘But imprisoned people in the Bible were fulfilling the will of God in their life’. I responded, “Yeah…Sounds like a plan!”
During these days that have now become months of absence of volunteers among us who try to bring hope to the incarcerated by investing their time and energy to come inside the prison, I have had multiplied opportunities to preach and teach in an attempt to ‘fill the void’. And I have witnessed firsthand the enormous void created by the absence of our usual religious volunteers in particular. Regularly I am asked how our volunteers are doing, when they might be returning and how we as a body of believers ‘on the inside’ can pray for them.
It occurred to me recently how the choice to visit those in prison puts the people who enter here to serve this population in some pretty notable company. Sure, some volunteers are more well-known among this population than others. But every single one of them contributes to the overall well-being of the men who reside here and ultimately contribute to the good of us all.
And how every single one of them is actually ministering to the Lord Jesus when they come. Every. Single. One.
Thank you to all who have prayed for us through these long and anxious days of the pandemic. Thank you to those who are preparing to enter and join us in this place when the day finally comes that it is safe for you to return to us. Every time that I am gathered together with the men for Christian worship or Bible study, they speak of our need to pray for all of you. And when they do, my heart overflows with gratitude for the foundation of love and care that you have poured into their lives.
You never know how the incarcerated person you minister to is going to be used to further tell the story of the Love of our Creator God and the saving Grace of Jesus Christ, His Son! “ Yeah! Sounds like a plan!”
To God Be the Glory!
You can read more from Jody Griffin HERE.
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 email@example.com.