How My Prison Pen Pal Impacted Me
Connie Neckers |
June 29, 2021
A few years ago, a letter arrived at the church that was not addressed to anyone in particular, and eventually it was passed on to me. It was from a gentleman that was one of our church members 20 years ago, but was now incarcerated.
I didn't remember him, but his letter touched me. He was doing his best to hold on tight to God, take responsibility for his actions, and learn from his mistakes.
He reminded me of my cousin, John, who had made some poor choices as a young man and spent a number of years in prison. For quite some time God had been working to curb my tendency towards judgmentalism. I had come to understand that bad choices seldom meant that someone was bad to the bone.
Furthermore, God was in the business of redemption, reconciliation and restoration. I remembered that my cousin really enjoyed receiving cards, so I decided to answer this gentleman's letter by writing three or four sentences on a cheerful card and mailing it out, never expecting a response.
A few weeks later I did get a response, a lengthy letter from a humble man who was stripped of distractions, and was being still enough to hear his Heavenly Father speak to him in the midst of his misery.
Our correspondence has continued and every month or so my new pen pal gets a card with a few sentences from me, and I get multiple page letters from him.
It has been quite amazing to see how God has met him, comforted him, and opened multiple "doors of opportunity" as he has surrendered his life and sought healing and forgiveness.
In his pre-prison life he worked as an electrician and now works in the electrical department at the prison. He has started taking college courses at Sinclair and has completed a number of lay ministry programs. He’s also been responsible for five different dogs in the prison canine program and expects to be released from prison sometime this year.
In a recent letter, he shared some of the things that have helped him cope, adjust his attitude, see the good in his present circumstances, and extend kindness to others.
His words inspired me and I marveled at the depth of his maturity and connection with God. He thanked me for believing in him when most people didn't and for offering him consistent encouragement.
I am here to tell you that the effort I extended was minimal, yet by his account it appears to have made a significant impact. Encouragement can be like water to a thirsty soul. You never know how your words can find a home in someone's heart and bless them.
"So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. Romans 14:19