Happy Tuesday, Friend! I am so glad you found your way here today! Last week was Thanksgiving and it was unlike any Thanksgiving I have ever experienced. We started the day at the Genessee County Jail. Our church was given the super rare & awesome opportunity to make all 700 inmates a Thanksgiving meal and share The Gospel with them.
A little background on me. I love jail, and jail ministry. I have no idea why. Maybe because when I was in middle school my youth group went to the Juvenile Detention Center and did dramas, sang, and presented the gospel and I saw how impactful it was. I am not sure where it stemmed from. It goes beyond jail ministry I have watched every single jail documentary Netflix has to offer. I have watched specials on prison, jail, death row. I sob when I watch Scared Straight. I have no idea why I like jail BUT I DO!
So when this opportunity came up for the church to get to on Thanksgiving I was SO pumped. I basically counted down the days! So - ok - Thanksgiving.
Our church had dropped off a homemade Thanksgiving dinner for all 700 inmates the night before. On Thanksgiving we got the jail and we split up into 3 groups, one group per floor. Our group went to the top floor. We were in the cell block with the inmates, not in a visiting area. They opened all the doors to the cells and if they wanted to come out they could just wander on down and listen. I knew this, and even knowing this I got SO nervous right before we went into the block. Every scene from Prison Break and those documentaries flooded my mind. There was nothing in-between me and them. dun dun dun.
I took a deep breath and they let us in. The tables were filled with men, most of them had come out of their cells. Some had Bibles, some looked like they could not care any less that we were there. The jail's chaplain announced who we were and that we had brought them homemade food and, literally, the whole place erupted in applause. Next my husband lead them in some hymns. Some men lifted their hands, some men gave blank stares, some men stood up in respect.
At this point I could barely keep the tears from rolling down my checks, I did, but barely. Something came over me. I just began to be so moved and these men probably think that no one cares about them, that they are not deserving of love or attention. Thinking that God could not possibly love them or forgive them. And yet here we are telling them, showing them: "Hey God still loves you, even if..." "God sees you, He knows you, and He has already paid the price for you"
I don't know man - it just really hit me. Like, these are the least of these. The people Jesus hung out with.
Then Nick gave a message on Zacchaeus from Luke 19 how he was a sinner just like everyone in that room, but he didn't miss the opportunity to know Jesus. This was their opportunity to turn to God and He would forgive them, and that God loved them despite what they did.
At the end people who wanted any sort of prayer raised their hand and Nick prayed for everyone. Then we lined up and we shook each one of their hands. Some people didn't look us in the eye, some people seemed geniunely shocked that we came on Thanksgiving, some just said "God Bless you for coming!" or "THANK YOU for coming to see us" Beautiful
This was the group that went into the jail and were the hands and feet of Jesus to the inmates, and the officers who work there. And - Philip's guitar front and center.
Then we went down to my cousin's house for family Thanksgiving! I love my family. We all sat around and watched the Lion's victory over Chicago. Ate some amazing food and way too much dessert. The rest of the night we played games and took turns holding my nephew. As I was looking through all of my pictures I realized every single one of them had Tommy in it. My brother and sisterinlaw prefer him not to be on social media so essentially I don't have any pictures of Thanksgiving. Except for this one when I was testing the lighting. That's my brother, his brother in law, his dad, my cousin Liz and my Sister in law's mom. Men- watching TV Women- looking at the baby! ha!
How was your Thanksgiving? Did you see Family? Friends? Have you ever done Jail Ministry?