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Prayer at the Prison Parchman Prison Gate     YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED
     TO PRAY AT THE PRISON GATE

I was in prison, and you came to Me. ... When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? ... The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25

Some of you have been helping me to get more focus in this ministry and then I go off in a whole new path. I know. Sorry.

But God has opened a door here and I just have to check out what's inside.

We have two exciting opportunities this Christmas Season (the Light Up the Darkness campaign to share the Gospel Story in over 1,300 prisons throughout America and the Prayer at the Atlanta Prison Gate event on Friday, December 19 at 11:30am at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary). Click those links for more details; we're very excited to have you join us in one or both.

But in preparing for these two opportunities, I found some incredible statistics. Did you know that . . . 

  • America has over 7,000 correctional institutions (1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 2,259 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,283 local jails, and 79 Indian Country jails), and
  • America's prisons hold over 2.4M prisoners, and
  • Americans spend $75B annually on prisons.
  • 95% of prisoners are eventually released (that's about 700,000 annually), but that still means that
  • 3% of children have an incarcerated father.
  • Once released, the unemployment rate for ex-inmates is 60-75% and
  • 2 of 3 prisoners will reoffend, but
  • Prisoner participation in Bible study reduces recividism by 66 percent.

But it's not all about the outside. Inside:

  • Nearly half of all jail suicides (48%) take place in the first week of custody.
  • Prisons experience 90 assaults per day (or 3.7 per hour), but 
  • 33.5% of all assaults in prisons and jails are committed by inmates against staff meaning that 
  • A 20-year career Correctional Officer will be seriously assaulted at least twice.
  • Correctional Officers (CO’s) have the second highest mortality rate of any occupation and a
  • Correctional Officers' life expectancy is 59 years (compared with 77 for the U.S. population overall).
  • Federal Labor statistics report that the State of Mississippi employs 6,630 Correctional Officers (that's more per capita than any other state), and
  • The State of Mississippi pays a Correctional Officer an average of $13.05 per hour.

What is my call? What are we to do with a system and world so broken? Men in Parchman have done bad things. No doubt. But I've done bad things. 

Scripture is clearer on this than I am. We're to remember the prisoners as if we were with them (Hebrews 13:3) because God doesn't hate them (Psalm 69:33) and I'm the bearer of the Good News (Isaiah 61:1). Darkness will exist (Isaiah 42:7) but I/you/we bring light (Isaiah 42:6) and trust that God preserves those destined for death (Psalm 79:11)-even when it feels like me.

Standing on either side of the prison gate, there there is no answer or option for reconciliation. But on my knees, God provides a way.

Holy Spirit, come upon us. In even this, give us peace to walk with You. Let us see that despite these intractable circumstances, You have come to guide us through. Jesus brought salvation, but He left us a gift, You. Let us when we're lulled by luxury and us when we're awakened by the cold come together and seek Your kingdom, here, now, today. We pour resources into punishing and end up punishing those paid to serve. How is that of You? How can One so great as You allow that to continue, Great Spirit? Only You know. But today, Lord, fill others with Your blessed fruit. Show us Your hand and let us see the Father's face in this moment of weakness. There is no earthly answer here, Lord. These men and women who will always be known as prisoners, their children, the wardens who are over them, the correctional officers who serve and the victims who shoulder the burden all need Your peace and great Spirit. How else can these dry bones live? How else can the lion lie down with the lamb? In You, Lord all things are possible. Show us Your way and let us/let me be on the field when the clock winds down. I refuse to watch from home or even the stands. I want to be on the field, Lord, Your field and filled with You. Who can be weaker than these, Lord? You love the downtrodden, Lord and You work through the weak. In these, Lord, show us Your glory. I love you.

Thank you and I hope that you'll share with us in this season:

  1. Your prayers for these prisoners, in Mississippi and elsewhere. You can pray on your own or share a prayer in the space below.
  2. Your presence at our event on Friday, December 19, 2014 at 11:30am, members of our Atlanta community will gather at the gates of the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary (601 McDonough Blvd, SE, Atlanta, GA 30315). RSVP for lunch on FacebookGoogle+, or at www.prayerattheprisongate.com. Each of those links have details.
  3. Your gifts to share the Gospel Story with inmates in our Light Up The Darkness Campaign.

See you soon and, as always, I love you. 

Prayers for brings prayer to some need in our community. I'd encourage you to add your own prayer, below, and if you would like to get these posts sent to you via email (and you're not already), click here to register and make sure to tell us that you're a Back Porch Friend.

 

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