Do You? by A.J. Rasmussen
When I last wrote, it was at the end of the first quarter of 2018. I was hoping for a better second quarter, but that's not what happened. Satan only ramped up the trials and tribulation of the second and nearly all of the third. I went to segregation, aka The Hole, for the second time in less than two years, neither time for doing anything wrong. The first time I sat in segregation for 56 days for being assaulted in the chapel of all places. The most recent visit, was 49 days for my involvement in helping less fortunate inmates, and their families.
The official reason for going to segregation was they deemed me "A threat to the orderly operation of the facility." I sat in there for 49 days for HELPING as much as possible with the ministry my mom and a handful of friends operate. I, even though there was no infraction, sat in there all that time until my mom called headquarters to question why I was still there. The same day I was returned to normal population, but not completely free. For 77 more days, my access to email and video visits was shut off. Again, still no infraction, but still being punished. My mom again contacted headquarters after I patiently waited for 2 1/2 months, and asked why I was still being punished? That same day, today, here I am with my email access reinstated.
It hasn't been all bad though, if anything the 126 days combined reinvigorated those who run the ministry, and today it is on the verge of exploding, rather than imploding as the haters were attempting to do. It is a sad reality that staff are led to think that it is impossible for an individual to do anything nice for someone, without ill intention. Well, I am here to share that prisons are loaded with people who truly regret their past, and desire to make a positive difference. The folks at Cornerstone Ministry Group have helped 57 inmates and/or families of inmates in its 3 1/2 years of existence. Of those 57, quite a few are now out in the community. As of today, only two of the many who have released, have been jailed for some minor offense. Nobody in that same 3 1/2 years has returned to prison, nor are they still in jail. The selfless volunteers who make up Cornerstone have not allowed the love to cease, not even for those who found themselves in jail. It is this little word with such a great impact that makes a difference in these individual's lives. A word many in prison have never experienced. That word is Love, and that word carries power.
Unfortunately, those who need love the most, people in prison, are the least loved. They are often treated as though they have the plague. This truth makes this sect of ministry work a difficult road to hoe, a tall mountain to conquer. However, the work is well worth it, for if it even stops one person from reoffending, it is a win. I never imagined when the Lord laid this ministry on my heart, that 57 people would have been helped in such a short time. It has not been easy, and in fact is often exhausting because where you think support would be given most, from the church, is the last place more often than not where you find support. The question I'd ask of the churches of the United States is, Who is your neighbor? Head to Luke, and the story of the Good Samaritan to find out what Jesus says.
In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus answers the lawyer's question of "Who is my neighbor?" with the story of the Good Samaritan. The response tells of a man a Samaritan, who was despised by the Jews, stopped to help a man who had fallen on hard times, literally beat down by thieves and left to die. Rather than stopping to help, a pastor walked on by, distancing himself in fact, heading to the other side of the road. Likewise, a Levite walked past. But it was the "enemy of the Jews" a Samaritan who showed compassion on the hurting man. He acted as a neighbor to this man. Churches today should be ashamed that they don't do more for prisoners and their families. Most of these two-plus million people wrapped up in our countries judicial system will one day be free. Do you want them reentering society the same damaged, and hate-filled individuals as they were when they entered the system? No? Well then do something about it! Shower them with LOVE. It's not that hard, really, when you consider what the Lord has forgiven you for, and the fact that He loved you before you ever loved yourself. Jesus says at the end of this message. . .
"YOU, GO AND DO LIKEWISE!"
Who is my neighbor? The one who has mercy on me, the one who shows compassion. Have you shown compassion, or have you had mercy on someone you don't know lately, someone you'd rather continue to despise? Maybe someone who is in jail, prison, a juvenile jail or prison, a rehabilitation facility, how about a hospital or nursing home where someone might be there all alone, the last living person in their family. Or maybe just some unhappy individual whose burned every bridge, so nobody wants to visit? This is a call to quit focussing on the person in the mirror, and perform a selfless act today! It might just be your act of love that turns someone's life around. THEN, God can say to you, "Well done good and faithful servant!"
That's what I hope to hear when it's my time to meet my maker. I really don't want to hear, "Get away from Me, I never knew you!"