When the Apostle Paul wrote of being “in chains for Christ” in Philippians 1:12, he thanked God for his imprisonment in Rome. “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel,” Paul said.
One of our brothers in Christ who corresponds regularly with Love Worth Finding, says the same of the believers he works with in prison ministry.
This brother, who we will call William, prefers to remain anonymous because, he says, he wants only God to receive glory for the work God ordains. William assists a pastor in teaching classes for a Christian studies program in a men’s prison. William also works in another ministry that provides encouragement to people who are in hospice care.
Here is his story:
“One day not too long ago I met for coffee with my volunteer coordinator (my boss in the hospice ministry). On a last-minute whim I had taken a beautiful piece of artwork that one of the inmates had made. She loved it and immediately came up with a wonderful idea. ‘Could they make cards of encouragement for our hospice patients?’ she asked.
So last Thursday I offered the 36 men that attended worship the opportunity to make these cards. A good number showed interest. I instructed the men to bring the completed cards back to me as they see me on the yard.
So yesterday, only four days since handing out the blank cards, Lone Wolf handed me three completed cards that he had made. They are beautiful. He put time and effort into encouraging people he will almost assuredly never meet. Lone Wolf also told me he intends to volunteer in the prison infirmary. This brother in Christ was so excited when he gave me these cards and told me of his plans to volunteer that he could scarcely stand still. The fire of enthusiasm was so evident and so beautiful that I immediately was drawn to Lone Wolf, and gave him a giant hug. He responded in kind.”
Since that moment, several other inmates have made cards and sent notes of encouragement. Perhaps their incarceration gives them a particular empathy for those in hospice who are waiting to be freed from earthly suffering. And the encouragement they are able to offer provides them, in turn, with a renewed sense of purpose.
This story from our friend William reminds us that we are all called to ministry regardless of our circumstances. Young or old, bound or free, rich or poor, known or anonymous, God uses everything we give back to Him and develops us into champions of faith.