I went to prison the other day. This particular prison is about thirty miles from our city. For a couple of hours, I spoke on some basic life skills in a section of the prison that serves as the prison school system. This was not a sermon or Bible study. However, this was an opportunity to communicate some basic truths about life, family, and character.
There were 25 to 30 women in each classroom. I spoke for an hour in one unit and then spoke for another hour in another unit. These women were well-behaved, alert, and gave lots of feedback.
There were some similarities in each classroom. Each room was full of women inmates dressed in white uniforms and prison-issued, olive-colored coats. Many of them had been in this prison for years.
As I looked at these people, I wondered about their stories. I was thinking about why they were in prison. Rather, I wondered about the home life of various inmates. Did she have a dad? A mom? Did someone love her as a child? Was someone attentive to this child? How was this person raised? Of course, I can speculate but I don’t know the answers to these questions.
I did leave this prison late Thursday afternoon grateful that I had spent some time there. More than anything, it was a reminder that there are many people I give little thought to as I go about my life. I thought about the story in Luke 14 of Jesus eating at the Pharisee’s house (where incidentally, he was being "watched"). Jesus said, "… But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." Jesus had a way of remembering the very people that others had forgotten.
I’m curious. What comes to your mind when you think of forgotten people? Any particular population of people? Any particular situation?
Let me encourage you to read the comments from a post from last week. These comments are outstanding. (Please read them especially if you are involved in some sort of congregational ministry.) You can read them here.