I was at the prison for my monthly volunteer time tonight and I met a very interesting young man from Northern Canada. He was first arrested at age (almost) 10. Half of his life has been spent behind bars. He mentioned to me that he had lost a relative this past week and that he was feeling sad to miss the funeral. As is sometimes possible, we connected on more than a superficial level and our conversation wound around remarkable places during the coffee hour.
I felt an initial sadness creeping in as I listened to his story and yet hope shone through it all. The cross he was carrying was heavy and yet along the way he had encountered the One who died on the cross. He had been redeemed and now was looking simply for peace. There was something refreshing about him. Part of me wanted to break the rule of no touching and give him a big hug. I wanted to affirm the fact that Jesus did love him and want so much more for him. The cross is central to Christianity as we discover in this week to come and this young man had discovered that. For him, I think Easter has already arrived. Jesus is at work and he wants a new life with new Life.
Some days the prison visits are challenging. Most nights though, the volunteers are grateful for our encounter with Christ amongst these men. Tonight was one of those times where I was deeply moved to see God working hard to reclaim one of his lost sheep. May we all have eyes to see God at work and grab a hard hat to assist in the work.