Just as a Pastor is called to look after a community of people, so are the volunteer Pastors of visitation. This call is deep and challenging. Every day we experience all the trials and tribulations that go with this call. We hurt when they hurt, and we laugh when they laugh. Make no mistake this is a bond that goes deep and goes to the core of our being.
Mike C., Bill M., leave Fredericton late, not on purpose but because Sherry M., one of our most steadfast visitors is sick. She had called but somehow the phone numbers got mixed up and she called a stranger and left a very personal message as to why she could not go. Believe me, Mike and I had a good chuckle all the way to our destination. Sorry Sherry, we know how ill you were but leaving a personal message of explanation to a total stranger just cracks us up! Once we have gotten to a rest stop we pick up Steven H. by previous arrangement, and then have a quick bite to eat and head on to our destination.
Now it is time to go to our congregation. My life is not boring I can’t go into it but suffice it to say, it is NOT boring. I did the driving today, therefore I had the keys, so as part of that responsibility I lock my keys in a secure locker on site. Well it was sort of one of those things, I put the locker keys instead of the van keys in the locker and then locked every one else items also inside the locker. The laugh is now on me! WHAT TO DO! Well I had to grin and bear it, my fault, thank God the officials have prepared for people such as I.
After awhile the locker is unlocked and we are back on track. I thanked the guard and reassured him I would be more careful. He smiled and said ”maybe you should give the keys to someone else”, there now I feel better about having had a laugh at Sherry’s expense!
Today we are doing another series in the Bible study, the inmates really like this study and we do to. You can see their anticipation and how their countenance lights up when we arrive. Today, one of our very dear members Mike C. is with us. He has been absent since July 1 due to some health issues. He walks in and when he enters the meeting room he sighs a sigh of relief and calm and says ”Home Sweet Home”.
Unless you are a prison volunteer you cannot possibly know that sentiment. For this is our church and these are our people that God has entrusted to us. That room is our sanctuary. Such is the bond and attachment that develops within the “Church behind Bars”. The word soon gets around that Mike is in the building and the guys start coming in to see for themselves. The familiar hand shake and shoulder routine and the one on one.
For certain Mike is a well respected man in this house. Every time the van left for a destination he was on it, now God has given him a rest and I am certain new focuses but no less presence. Bill M. opens with prayer and an introduction of who Prison Christian Ministries is and what we do. Then we begin to read the lesson. Bill reads the first half and then Steven H., concludes the last half. Mike helps with the arrangement of the group.
Today we have a large group. We do a round circle question and answer. The topic today is about peace and unity among the believers and the discussion commences. Many there are really involved in this topic. They want to have harmony in their lives and the expressions on their faces communicate the cry of their hearts. Prison typically is not always a place of calm, and the men need to have this supernatural peace. Jesus is the great wall walker, He walked through the walls after his ascension and spoke with His disciples, He also walked through our prison walls today and spoke calm to those there.
Before we know it, it is time to conclude and we do so with Mike closing us in prayer. We fellowship for a bit and then assemble to go back. We all check with each other and ask, are you coming out later to the church service? It is unanimous we will be back. Mike even concluded His prayer with the men by jovially remarking in an Arnold Schwarzenegger tone of voice “I’ll be back”! And true to form we were all back later for the church service. By Bill M…. Continued tomorrow.