On the Fourth of July we observe Independence Day and celebrate the freedoms we have in America. At Matthew 25 Ministries’ City of Refuge, freedom means so much more because many have been incarcerated for years.
When we accept a new resident we often travel to the prison to pick them up, and I have the privilege of being there when they walk out the gate. The first thing I tell them is that they are free. This new-found freedom can be overwhelming, for with freedom comes responsibility. An incarcerated person does not have to make many decisions as they are told what to wear, what to eat and when to do things. The first stop we make on the way home is to get something to eat – some “real food”, something they haven’t had in a long time. Choosing from a menu and holding a metal fork are new again.
I always tell them to savor their freedom – the little things, like being able to open the refrigerator or walking barefoot through the grass. These physical freedoms are only the beginning.
Soon after arriving, everyone is introduced to Jacob’s Destiny Church where they are taught about true freedom that comes only through Christ Jesus (Gal. 5:1).
I am so thankful for the sanctuary we have at our City of Refuge and the refuge we have in the grace of God.
Freedom. Often, we don’t even think about being free. It’s like the old saying that ‘a fish is the last one to know about water.’
Imagine that you are a prisoner. You’ve been incarcerated for nearly 20 years on a sexual offense charge and you are soon to be released. How do you feel about your impending freedom?
This question was the basis for our discussion recently at Martin Correctional Institution. When I was designing the syllabus for this class I assumed that the three men in our class, who were eligible for parole, would be excited about regaining their freedom. As is often the case, I was wrong.
As our discussion progressed, it became apparent that these men were noticeably silent and not contributing to our discussion. One of the ‘lifers’ picked up on this and asked a soon-to-be -released class member why he hadn’t spoken. Silence followed.
Eventually, all three of the men who were eligible to be released opened up and spoke about how they felt about being free. Here are some amazing insights (paraphrased) they had about life in the free world. Some of these perceptions came up in previous classes.
• People are going to look at me and know that I had been in prison. I’ve been here so long I won’t know how to act or do things.
• I worry about making decisions. Here I am told what, how, and when to do everything. Outside, if I make one bad choice, I’ll be right back here.
• When I’m free, it will be easier for someone to find out that I am a sex offender than it is in here.
• I’ll need to find a job. I’m worried that no one will hire me because I am a sex offender.
• I’m never going to be totally free, I’ll wear the label “sex offender” for the rest of my life.
• When I walk out the front gate, I won’t really be free. There are so many restrictions that I must comply with.
Being released from prison still carries a heavy burden for sex offenders. That’s a fact of life.
What is also a fact of life is that help is available. Matthew 25 Ministries, one of the oldest and largest ministries of its kind, has helped hundreds of sex offenders successfully navigate the free world.
Your support makes this possible. Donations to M25M are at their lowest during the summer months. Please consider donating so that we can continue to extend all our services to new residents who will be experiencing freedom for the first time in many years.
Thank you and may God bless you always.
We are halfway though the year, and that means it is time for us to let you know a little about this year’s Christmas In The Village. For now, all we will say is that it will be on December 16, 2017, the MC is a famous personality appearing for the first time in Florida, and that it will be MAGICAL! You will not want to miss this year’s event!
To celebrate the lead-in into production for 2017, we are sharing Christmas In The Village 2016 with you. Simply visit our website at www.matthew25ministries.org (links to videos page) and click the play icon on the video. And don’t forget to share the video with your friends!
To order DVD or Blu-Ray discs of Christmas In The Village 2016 or to reserve a seat at Christmas In The Village 2017, call us at 561-924-5556
Last month we told you how the easiest way to donate is to visit our website and click the donate button. That option is always available, and you can even set up monthly recurring donations appropriate for your budget that way.