Your Second Chance
Power to transform is the greatest hope providing force in the universe.
Those who have been written off as lost, too far gone, hopeless …. Get the message. They are worthless. Any expenditure on them is in vain. Move on to those who can benefit from your help is what my social work supervisor instructed me years ago. But, what if you don’t move on? What if you insist on teaching them that they have worth? And, what if they hear you and believe you?
The story of Joanna Flanders-Thomas was written in the book Vanishing Grace by Philip Yancey describing her experiences with a violent South African prison ministering to the worst of the worst inmates. Joanna visited them daily and shared the overcoming word of forgiveness and reconciliation. She told them that they were worthy of better and that solving problems through violence was unworthy of them. Prison violence shifted from 279 incidents to only 2 within a year of her involvement with them.
Turn around prison ministries is not a new story but abundant evidence of hope-giving transformations. Some of the “worst” offenders have transformed into respectable human beings. Once given opportunity to be productive, they rise to that task.
Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad was incarcerated for refusing to honor the U.S. draft registration on ground of religious belief. This introduced him to the many men in prison who had been marginalized and in need of restoration to their rightful places in society. Thousands of Nation followers came from these ranks, most notably, Malcolm Little. Mr Little while serving in a Boston prison for burglary from 1946 to 1952, was introduced to the nation's strong appeal for Black American uplift. On his exit from prison, he joined the Nation and rose to positions of leadership, changed his name to Malcolm X and changed the world through teaching love and truth of inclusion and honoring God.
I am encouraged by the hope of transformation. There are millions of people that we consider lost in bondage to racism. We say “they cannot change.” "The racist old-guard have to die out before we can move beyond their brand of racism".
I say, NO. As long as there is life, I choose to hope for transformation. Just as prison ministers clean the wounds of damaged childhoods, atrocities that framed attitudes of fear, hate and defenses to survive, we must show mercy with racist.
Stop the hate that tears flesh from the bones of others and take time to listen to their “whys” so that we can understand their perspectives to clean the wounds. They did not prepare the plates of hate, condemnation and biased judgements against others. Those plates were held and prepared by those they looked to for guidance. We can be sympathetic with the pain of fighting dogs that have been abused. Our hearts cry out for their recovery at any cost. Not Their Fault! we say. Then how can we not also feel for our fellow humans?
Before you judge others, listen and pray for transformation power to change them into what God designed them to be. Then look into your history of race relations dietary plates.