“I Was In Prison, and Ye Came Unto Me”

>> Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The past few weeks have been quite eventful for my wife and myself.  Those events have taken place, not on Cedar Ridge, but in the state of Texas.  While on a trip to visit my wife’s sister and brother-in-law we spent several days with the founders of a prison ministry that we came in contact with a few months ago.  My wife had been reading from the 25th chapter of Matthew where the Messiah answers the question “when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  Or when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in?  or naked, and clothed thee?  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?”  His answer was “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Connie asked me, “How do we visit anyone in prison?”  We didn’t know many prisoners.  There was one young man that Connie had written to off and on over the last several years.  Perhaps writing to him was in effect visiting or coming to one in prison.  However, a short time later we were brought into contact with Broken Vessels Prison Ministry.  We were drawn to this ministry in a way that is hard to explain except to say it was a divine calling.  We began by contributing a bit financially, then by corresponding with a prisoner and later by “adopting” a couple of men who had no financial support whatsoever.  (In the Texas prison system inmates are required to work if they are able but receive absolutely no pay.)  A few dollars a month on their books allows them to obtain personal hygiene items, occasional snacks, stamps, etc.

We felt the need to receive a bit of an education regarding the needs and what we can do to assist in filling them.  The few days spent with Thomas and Raquel was a crash course in prison ministry.

We went down to Huntsville and observed and participated in what is called “first contact.”  Each day, Monday through Friday, quite a number are released from the Huntsville Walls.  Those who do not have family waiting across the street for them to come out of those gates walk down the street about two blocks to the Greyhound Bus station, carrying their meager possessions in an onion bag.  They have in hand the $50.00 check they are issued, a voucher for a bus ticket to their destination in the state of Texas.  Their check will be cashed there for no charge.  The voucher is exchanged for a ticket and soon they are boarded for either Dallas or Houston, the transfer points for most.  They are given a free cell phone (or the phone number to call to get one if phones are not available on that day.)  These are made available to individuals that have no income.


Perhaps the most important thing that is offered by those who were there from  two or three different prison ministries is a smile and a warm welcome back.  We were blessed to be able to join in that morning.  We visited with several men, many who had served many years, such as Robert who had been behind the razor wire for 20 years.  It was hard for him to fully express the emotions he was experiencing;  fear, strangeness of everything, anticipation of meeting family and especially grand children he didn’t know.

After the fellows had all boarded their buses we went to the Texas Prison Museum.  We saw and read about many interesting things but perhaps the most striking was a full-size prison cell.


The following day we were able to meet and spend some time with one of the fellows we had been writing to.  He is now in a half-way house and had a pass for a few hours.  We were able to take him with us to a local park and enjoy some time along with a picnic lunch.

The following morning, before heading on down to Connie’s sister’s home, we went to Navasota, Texas, to the Pack Unit and went behind the razor wire to visit two men we have been in contact with.  When we began planning our trip they had added our names to their “visitor” list.  We went in together and visited Troy for 2 hours.  We had to come back out and go through the security check again to re-enter to visit Wesley for 2 hours.  We certainly enjoyed our visits and found it sad to have to go.  It really was heart rendering to learn that our visit was the first that Wesley had received since 2002!

After leaving Connie’s sister’s home we drove to Beeville, Texas where we spent the night.  The following morning we went out to the McConnell Unit, a maximum security unit, and had a 2 hour visit with Robert.  (A different Robert than referred to above.)  All 3 visits were non-contact visits.  Regular visits are all non-contact if you aren’t family.  At the Pack Unit we could talk through a heavy mesh but at the McConnell Unit it was over a telephone, just seeing Robert through heavy glass.

We stopped by and spent a bit more time with Thomas and Raquel before heading back to Cedar Ridge.  The many hours of discussion, asking questions and being given countless bits of information hopefully has prepared us for greater service to our brothers and sisters behind the razor wire that our Father is dealing with in some amazing ways.


G. HUBBARD November 25, 2011 at 8:04 AM  

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