Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: TRIAL (05/10/18)
TITLE: Facing The Unknown
By Ken Grant
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We follow the familiar path and then either up the stairs or the elevator to the next stage in our journey. We indicate our destination, are assigned a deputy to escort us, and then we are inside the facility. It is a place designed to contain and punish those who have broken or are accused of breaking the laws of our land. It is a place that many are pleased to forget about, but it is a place that our team has chosen to enter bringing the hope of forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.
We enter the small room, set up for our first service, and await the arrival of our first group. The timing is out of our hands and the number is out of our hands. Security is prioritized over everything else. We rely upon a deputy to get word to the men inside that a service is available for them to attend, but we ultimately rely upon the Holy Spirit to draw those most in need of the good news and encouragement of the gospel message of Jesus Christ and him crucified, buried, and risen from the dead.
The team members perk up as the first group begins to file in. Some of the men we recognize from previous services, while others are new. Some wear smiles, but most demonstrate the impact of being incarcerated and physically separated from so much of what brings life joy. They sit down and wait for the service to begin. Some talk together, some sit and stare off into space, but all share the reality of a life that is largely out of their control.
The chaplain hands out white cards and small golf pencils for the men to use . They are designed to allow them to write prayer requests. They don't know it, but for me this is a crucial moment. This is when the men reveal the condition of their hearts. They write down their requests and I collect them. I say a quick prayer as I read through the information. Most ask for prayer for family members on the outside. It is a constant reminder of what they have lost. But, I always look for one important request, a request that will change everything for these men, a request for prayer over an upcoming trial date that is soon to come.
We are a nation of laws and we see trials as places where justice is accomplished. But for these men a trial is a place where their lives are held in the balance. Other people will determine their fate and their fear is very real. Getting to know these men I now see another side to the trial process. I now pray differently than before. I have compassion where before I would only see the need for justice. I still believe in the trial process, but I now see it in a broader light and I believe that is a very good thing.
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