Wendy Horton, long-time Willow member, chaplain at the Lake County Jail, and co-leader of the Willow Lake County Jail Team, has a heart for the prison and jail ministry. Below is a reflection on one of Wendy’s most recent visits.
There are hundreds of stories I hear each time I go, ministering to the men as chaplain, and I come home asking God, "Why not me?" I’ve never had to sleep in a bathtub to avoid bullets from my window; I’ve never smoked a crack pipe around the holiday table; I’ve never seen anyone killed. I had the advantage of loving my pets, not killing them to toughen me up. I took baths in my bathtub, but never had to stand in there so when my mom beat me blood wouldn’t get on the walls. So many stories, so much pain, such a need for a Savior.
I debated sparing the details in this writing; however, I recently wrote on my Facebook page about being blessed not to have smoked crack around the holiday table. Someone wrote back, "If they are stupid enough to smoke crack they should be in jail." My reply was: "He was only eight and didn’t really know what stupid was." It was a normal reply for those of us who live in the land of OZ. I lived there too, before I prayed with inmates and took time to listen to their stories.
I’m giving details so the next time you hear, “Keep them locked up—they deserve it," remember that but for the grace of God go you or I. They deserve the same love and mercy God gives to all of us each day. Isn’t grace a wonderful thing that we don’t have to stay locked up in our sin, even though we deserve it? Prison ministry isn’t for everyone, but I know it’s for me. It keeps me on my knees thanking God for the life He has given me and the wonderful chance to serve Him and the least of these, my brothers and sisters.
If you would like more information about Willow’s Prison Ministry, please contact Anne Rand at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, consider attending the three-week Prison & Jail midweek class that begins on September 8, 2010.