Friday, March 5, 2010
Genesis is full of firsts and this past week we saw another "first" - we saw the first prison ministry. Yes, it was through a prisoner himself, but it was a ministry nonetheless. Joseph, while serving in an overseer role in the king's prison, reached out to two dejected and frightened inmates. He saw the distress on their faces and he bothered to ask them what was wrong. And when they shared their dreams with him, he pointed them to the Lord.
Can you see it? The beginning of prison ministries...
I am struck today at how Joseph displayed the character qualities that are in our memory work. In Colossians 3:12 we are instructed to put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. These are five qualities that were not only ingrained in the life of our Savior, but also in the life of our protagonist, Joseph. In reaching out to his suffering inmates, he showed compassion and kindness. In pointing them to God, he exampled humility. In quietly defending himself, he showed a gentleness rather than anger and bitterness. And throughout the whole ordeal, he patiently waited for Jehovah's salvation.
Well, we don't have to go to a prison to minister to prisoners, gals. They are all around us. People enslaved to sin, bound by their very nature to a desperate and hopeless future. The distress is on their faces and their destructive choices are ruining their lives.
The question before us then is this: are we willing to have a prison ministry?
Are we willing to reach out in compassion and kindness and ask people what is wrong? Are we able to humble ourselves and meet these people at their level, sometimes even getting our hands dirty to reach out to them, and point them to the Lord? Can we gently and patiently come alongside the lost and give them hope and a future?
When Jesus said we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth, He was referring to prison ministry. Every day the prisoners of this world pass before us, and though we are free and know the Way to freedom, we cast our eyes to the ground and go about our business.
If Joseph had simply cast his eyes away from the baker and cupbearer and went about his business, would he ever have been brought before the king? By engaging in prison ministry, Joseph's whole life changed.
So, let me ask it again: are you willing to have a prison ministry?