The following article from Prison Fellowship is an all to often occurance today. For more information on how you can help intergrate ex-mates into the community contact us or PF.
My friend had an anguished expression on his face.
He had been out of prison for a year and a half, but his family was still struggling with the transition. His young kids were wondering why their dad didn’t feel comfortable at neighborhood barbecues and why he wasn’t coaching their sports teams. They couldn’t see the way the community still kept my friend at arm’s length, continuing to punish him for his crime.
“When does the sentence end?” he asked me. “When will the community let me out of jail?!”
“I don’t know,” I told him.
We are all suffering these days from the absence of common grace in society. Divine grace is the unmerited favor God extends to us, but common grace is what we extend to one another because of what Jesus has done for us. Common grace doesn’t ask whether someone “deserves” it or not; it is given without condition, and if call we ourselves Jesus’ followers, it should be oozing out of us constantly.
All too often, when Christian inmates like my friend are released from prison, they fail to find common grace. They have done their time and been forgiven of their sins through Jesus’ atoning act on the cross, but we, God’s ambassadors on earth, still see fit to judge them. Friends, this should not be. Former inmates need the Church, and the Church needs them; we are all eternally indebted to God’s saving grace.
Many churches have opened their arms to ex-prisoners by becoming Prison Fellowship bridge churches, easing their reentry into society with mentoring, support, and material assistance. I invite you to learn more about becoming a bridge church by calling our National Program Support Center at 1(800)251-7411.
For God’s Kingdom,
CEO, Prison Fellowship Ministries