"His Kids" by A.J. Rasmussen
How often do people think about the child victims left behind from crime?
I'm not talking about the child victims you might be thinking. What I'm talking about here are the children of those incarcerated. Being involved in ministry work to those incarcerated, as well as their families has brought an entirely new, and sad, reality to me.
At one point of my incarceration, the early days, I contemplated marrying so I could have overnight visits, and ultimately have a child to help bring some sort of meaning into my remaining years locked away in prison for life.
The more I thought, however, the more selfish I realized this idea was. I may as well have grown up without a father, and yet here I was thinking of bringing a child into this world, who would also grow up without his or her father. How unfair would that be?
Instead, I've tried to count my blessings that despite a life sentence. I'm so thankful I didn't come to prison for life, with children out there. It's hard enough that I've left behind a mother, a grandmother, a brother and nephews, and a large assortment of other family members and friends.
As a ministry, Cornerstone has been blessed to help numerous inmates, as well as some of their families, to not only survive, but to also succeed. None of that work has been easy for those who volunteer their time selflessly to help this segment of society. In the 3 1/2 years of existence, a lot of good has come from a near impossible battle to find financial support. The one place you'd think support would come effortlessly, has been nearly impossible, that being the church, sadly. It's hard to hold that against the church as a whole though because prior to my initial arrest and imprisonment, me, nor my family, ever considered helping those within the judicial system.
Oh how being immersed in it, either yourself or a loved one changes your perception. This place is not full of horrible individuals as many think. The judicial system is full of many otherwise decent individuals who have made horrible choices, or found themselves wayward, a time or two. I'm not minimizing my actions, or anyone else's, but the fact of the matter is, I am surrounded by damaged people who simply need to experience love, and be given a chance for maybe their first time ever.
As Cornerstone has helped individuals and families, it has missed a segment of people who need help. That segment is the child who, yes, was left behind by a parent's poor decision making, and often abominable actions. But how about the child who has not only lost a parent to jail or prison, but also whom has been left with the other parent who is still drug addicted, and fighting to survive themselves?
These are the 'Kids' I write about today. My best friend in this place is currently going through what I will call a version of hell. He has just over a year left, and has spent his last nine months working on himself, bettering himself so he can get out, succeed, and be the father to his child, that he didn't have a chance of experiencing in his upbringing. The only support and strength he found was in the life of a gang member, a merciless life that never has a good ending. 23 years old, already with two strikes against him, it is now or never.
He has recently been informed that his son, and his son's older brother, might be taken from their unfit mother who has issues with drug addiction. My heart hurts for him and these boys. He is absolutely helpless in this situation, aside from continuing to do the good work he is doing, so he can at least get his son once he is released and solidly on his own feet.
So, what happens with these boys? What's worse? Grow up in a house often surrounded by shady people and drugs? Or Be torn away from their only parent, and possibly separated from each other when placed into the foster system?
I am ashamed to say, I have now spent a total of 17 years wrapped up in the judicial system. In those years, I have been surrounded by individuals who spent their childhood in the foster system, and the stories are horrific more often than not. The foster system has been a catalyst to many of people's eventual fall into the judicial system.
So, as I sat here, debating what to pray for, I was lost. I was without an answer, so I decided on the only possible prayer. . . Ask that God's will be done. Not mine, not my friend's, not the kid's, not the mother's, but God's will. He knows what is best. He knows the outcome before it even is decided. Maybe this is the scare their mother needs to sober up? Maybe He has a nice family able to take both boys and raise them temporarily while my friend gets on his feet? I don't know. That is not a normal position for me. I've almost always felt as though I could fix things, or solve problems. I grew up pretty independent, and so had to do a lot of my own problem solving. I am humbled to give everything to God, and ask others to pray as well. Right this minute there may be a couple thousand people praying this same prayer... "Lord God, take care of these boys, bring comfort to my friend, and may Your perfect will be done."
Me and my friend, completely helpless in this horrible situation, decided to fast for 24 hours, and spend the day in prayer for those boys. Scripture says where two or more are gathered, God is there with us. So we have went into this day believing God's Word, and standing together will all those also praying. I've never fasted, and I've never felt as humbled as I am this day, having reached a point of absolute dependence on God to do what He does best, taking care of His Kids.
God, bless them with Your best.