Today on my Two-Minute Warning, which I urge you to go to ColsonCenter.org to watch, I talk about just how critical it is in these confusing times that we strive to make the invisible Kingdom visible; that we present to a weary world a positive vision for human flourishing.
And there’s a great example I want to share with you today.
Two summers ago, I was invited to RidgePoint church in Holland, Michigan, to attend a regular weekly luncheon church members have with ex-offenders. I was startled to see about 100 ex-prisoners, volunteers, and mentors — many of whom were trained by Prison Fellowship.
And as well, I was overwhelmed by the warmth of the RidgePoint folk and by the enthusiasm of the ex-prisoners. Many, including the man who introduced me, told me how much Angel Tree had affected them and their families — that’s Prison Fellowship’s wonderful outreach to the children of prisoners.
As I was speaking, looking out over the sea of faces of people who had been bruised and beaten up in life, mixing in with volunteers filled with the Spirit, I got just a touch emotional. My voice began to crack.
Because I was thinking back 37 years when I left prison, the only thing I wanted to do was to help prisoners. But I never thought about building an organization; I thought in terms of starting a movement to disciple inmates, who would then go back into the prisons and disciple others.
And then I dreamed of energizing the church of Jesus Christ to come in and reach out to these hurting and suffering in our prisons.
And now, right there in Holland, Michigan, I realized that my vision was being played out before my eyes in the most beautiful way.
The young pastor and I had a good talk after the luncheon. He explained that the Holy Spirit moved him to reach out to prisoners and ex-prisoners, but they couldn’t have done it without all the Prison Fellowship-trained volunteers and mentors in the area.
He had plans to start a Christian ministry wing in a prison, and RidgePoint had already established an aftercare program in an old building the church had bought in the heart of Holland’s Hispanic and African American community. On a very modest budget, the program employed ex-prisoners to build and refurbish houses, just as Habitat for Humanity does. Amazing — and a beautiful example of my vision coming true.
I realized that day that God was rising up a movement of people who care deeply for the men and women left in prison. This is how you and I make the invisible Kingdom visible.
Oh, and by the way, that movement is not dependent on one man or on one organization. It is fueled by the Holy Spirit, and it is growing, and I’m confident that it’s going to succeed.
That the vibrant, passionate young pastor who was making my vision come true in Holland goes by the name of Jim Liske. He is now the CEO of Prison Fellowship.
So, there are two things I’d like you to do today. First, go to ColsonCenter.org and watch today’s Two-Minute Warning. Second, go to PrisonFellowship.org and learn more about how you can join in this kingdom-building movement of love and service to the least of these among us.