Compassionate Listening

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, "I will never leave you or forsake you." so we can say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?" Hebrews 13: 1-6 (NRSV)

Pierce VanDunk is from Massachusetts. Less than one month into his first job as a prison chaplain, a man caught his attention as Pierce was walking by. He looked young, and his smile seemed forced. As they sat at cold metal tables, this young man told Pierce of the devastating life circumstances that had led him to addiction and criminal behavior. As Pierce told him of God's extravagant forgiveness, Pierce watched his tired smile turn into tears of joyful repentance. He received Christ into his heart that day.

God calls us to give ear to the plight of those in prison. Separated from loved ones, and removed from home and community; those in prison can feel isolated and forgotten. Rather than ignore or condemn those who are incarcerated, we are called to have compassion and offer a listening ear. We can share with them the hope we find through our faith by being involved in prison pen pal programs or by volunteering in local prison ministries.

There are countless people behind bars, both literal and figurative, who need the listening ears and tender hearts of Christians. As we remember to love those in prison, God will set their souls free.

Prayer: Dear God, help us to have compassion for those who are incarcerated and to share with them the hope of the gospel, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Do you have an listening ear?

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