The shadows are getting longer now, fall is here. Leaves are turning color quickly, I believe the trees seem even more colorful on our return home. Fall is a nice time of year in New Brunswick, no wonder it is called the picture province. Not only is the landscape impressive, but the fall painting of the trees is spectacular, sort of a trade off for travel while on route.
Today Bill, Jim L, and Herb are taking a trip to two of our many ministry destinations. We leave with ministry books and anticipation of what will await us.
When we arrive at our destination, some routines never change. The security checks and the ominous buzzing and closing of the doors within. All part of the process, however once in, we are greeted with friendly and helpful staff who facilitate our arrival. They have been waiting for us. We go in and set up our room and await the arrival of our “congregation”
We have a good attendance today and our team starts with introductions and conversation. Bill opens with prayer and Jim gets us started with some songs. He knows so many hymn choruses, he gets us singing quickly. Once we have sung our songs Bill introduces the team and our mission. We are Prison Christian Ministries, which sends teams of volunteers to all Federal and Provincial jails, halfway houses, and recovery facilities. Our mission is to minister to the incarcerated and mentor afterward where ever possible. We put on approximately 30 visits, traveling 5000 km per month.
We are a young ministry but have seen rapid growth in just one year. Now we are doing what we do best, ministry with the inmates. As each person shares their personal testimony and speak of the goodness of God, there is a quietness within the room. These are times of deep personal assessment. You can see body language of reflection on these men; closed eyes, fiddling with song books, or just quietly staring off into space. We have all been there at one time or another. The scripture that is so evident is 2 Corinthians 1:4 “Who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Not only do we all have a story we all have a place of comfort for someone else. Our Heavenly Father is a God of relationship. We conclude with prayer and discussion, there are questions and requests today for prayer.
We conclude in prayer and before we know it our time is up and we are off to our next destination. But, first a pit stop at a local restaurant. You just gotta love these pit stops, “a friend along the way,” and a time to recharge. Ministry is not the performance of an hour, but the outflow of a life. The outflow exacts a measure upon all who minister, try it and you will see that time is required to recoup, even if all we get is a coffee.
Our next stop is a halfway house, we like to visit this spot because we get to see the guys functioning outside the ‘Church behind bars’. Today was a very encouraging day. We walk in and see an old familiar face from an institution we visit regularly. He recognized us and we were pleased to meet our good friend. We are overjoyed at his spiritual growth, and see him as another ‘Report Card’ of our efforts when visiting the institutions. He has gotten grounded and is doing well. While in the halfway house, he has found a church to attend and one special mentor friend to help keep him accountable. His sincerity is refreshing, as he shares of his hopes and dreams for his future. This reminds me of God’s attitude toward us when we are in captivity Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Perhaps God is calling you to comfort someone with your story, He never wastes a life experience.