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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Lifeguard (11/09/06)

TITLE: Hungry Hearts
By Ed VanDeMark


Hungry Hearts

I got out of prison two days ago.

While that statement is true it is also misleading. I wasn’t an inmate. I was part of a prison ministry team called Kairos.

This was my first Kairos experience. I entered the prison with many of the same misconceptions that most Americans hold to be self evident. I expected to see unshaven men with over developed brows and the lumbering demeanor of cave men. What I found were over 40 neat clean men most of average to above average intelligence. This was however the least of my surprises. These men to the man professed a faith in God and displayed an intense hunger to know more about him. Their knowledge of the bible exceeded that of the common Baptist. There was a joy rarely seen in most American workplaces. The most unexpected thing was their overwhelming affection for and acceptance of the ministry team that came to serve them.

I’m not naive enough to believe that I was in a room full of innocent men. I’m sure that American courts are not in the habit of convicting people without ample evidence of guilt. So what happened in the time between their sentencing and the day three steel doors slammed shut behind me?

I believe that being closed away from society tends to take away the pretense of innocence. Being reduced to the status of inmate and given not just hours or days or weeks but years to ponder that status gives way to reflection. With that reflection comes the realization that they need a savior.

Most of us on the outside don’t have the harsh reality of a conviction that says “you are guilty”. Most of us do not spend years pondering our guilt. Most law abiding citizens never come to the realization that they are in desperate need of a savior.

A person doesn’t ordinarily call out to a lifeguard for help simply because they are swimming in deep water. That cry for help comes when they discover that they are drowning.

We tend to live our lives strictly on a physical plane. When we have good health, food to eat, and adequate shelter we believe that all is well. What we forget is that we are more than physical beings. We are spiritual beings and spiritually we are every bit as guilty as my brothers behind bars. We need the same savior that they have cried out to for salvation. We are not only in deep water we are in deep trouble. We need to cry out to the only lifeguard that is capable of rescuing us. We need to cry out in a loud and clear voice to Jesus Christ.

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This article has been read 657 times
Member Comments
Member Date
lynn rodgers11/16/06
very catchy beginnig i like it
Marilee Alvey11/17/06
I have been in prison ministry for the last ten years. In fact, my daughter met her husband there (he was on a team with my husband). We bring the Walk to Emmaus into the prisons as well into the "street walks," as we call it, for ordinary citizens. I have always said that the prison Walk is more moving because you don't have to waste time in there showing them that they are sinners. They know it! Much of the time, their crimes deal, in some fashion, with drugs. Often, they were out of their heads on cocaine or heroin. They get off them and are stuck in prison for a long, long time. It's a long time to be sober! When a person tries prison ministry they often get hooked on it: the unexpected strength of faith, the passions so near the surface, etc. They end up ministering to us. Thanks for the fresh insight. I can vouch for your insights as being honest, accurate and authentic. Good job....in prison...and here!
Phyllis Inniss11/20/06
Thanks for sharing. Your last paragraph sums up everything we should know about being in prison - physically or spiritually.
Teresa Lee Rainey11/21/06
Your first sentence is a great way to get someone's attention. It kept me wanting to read what you had to say. Good job :^)