Another year has come and gone since Thanksgiving 2015. What a year it has been! Many things have changed in the last year, some good and some not so good. But at this Thanksgiving time I want to consecrate on the things that we can be thankful for. In this last year I have seen men who for the first time surrendered their lives to Jesus. I have also experienced a large interest from men wanting mental and spiritual growth! When I think of some of these men, one comes to mind whom I would like to share his story with you.
Sam is an older man that lives in our Faith Based Honor Dorm and has been locked up for a long time. Due to Sam’s rough family life, he and his sisters grew up in the foster care system and lost contact with each other as they were dispersed into multiple foster homes. After reaching adulthood Sam continued to live his life the best he could and was delighted when he found out that he was about to be a father to a little girl. Her birth meant the world to him since he really didn’t have anyone else he could call his own. His life with his little girl was short lived when he found himself sitting in a jail cell after being arrested for murder. Broken by their separation he recalls spending many of his nights crying, wishing he could be with her, hold her and love her. He wondered would he ever get to be at her high school graduation? Would he ever be able to teach her how to drive her car? Would he be able to walk her down the aisle at her wedding? These questions never stopped they haunted his every day and his every night? Nothing could erase them not even the exhausting court appearances and the final life without parole sentence. Once in prison he had his daughters’ mother bring her to see him as often as she was able, but one day many years later he got a phone call that devastated him. The phone call was from his daughter as she informed him of his worst fear, his precious girl was pregnant. She was still so young, why would she allow this. His prayer had always been that his daughter would find a kind Christian man that she would marry before she would get pregnant. It seemed as if his prayers hadn’t been heard. Knowing her father would probably be upset she went on to inform him that her mother had told her to move out of the house because of it. Angered and disappointed he told her that he was deeply upset and hung up the phone. Several days later he received a letter with these words from his daughter written on it. “I thought you would understand but you turned your back on me just like everyone else. Consider this to be my last correspondence with you ever. Your grandchild will never be told about you, so do not try to ever reach out to us.” Sam knew instantly that his daughter was serious and that he had messed up any chances to ever have her in his life again.
Now you may think why is this story something to be thankful for. The reason that I share Sam’s story is because that’s not the end of his story. This last year after being in prayer for some time he received a letter from his sister whom he had last seen as a child. She had found him through a Google search and wanted to hopefully build a relationship with him. He was overjoyed and began talking to her on a regular basis sharing his story. His sister being touched by all that had happened decided to try to find his estranged daughter and talk to her. She was successful and the two also began a regular dialogue. After some time his daughter decided that she should at least send her dad a note even though she was still angry with him and friends that is where the healing process began. This last year Sam went from having no family in his life to now this Thanksgiving having his sister and daughter visiting him at the prison. He is overjoyed to see how God has redeemed his family and whenever I see him around he always stops and gives me a hug and says, “Thank You for praying!”
This Thanksgiving I am grateful to serve a God that loves us even when we mess up. I am thankful for a God that is in the redeeming business and allows me to have a front row seat to see these redemption stories daily. I am also grateful for the many people who give of their resources to make it possible for me to be able to serve in this capacity. Thank You!