“Chaplain when I first came to jail, I was so ashamed of myself, I did not know what to do. But since you have talked to me about the love of Jesus, the shame in myself has been lifted. I now live as a forgiven sinner and dearly loved soul before God.” (Gary)
Gary was in my jail class for a year. He was in jail for drug violations. We studied many topics such as guilt, anger, abuse, failures, worry, success, and leadership. I used Bible stories with each topic to teach him about the love of Jesus and the forgiveness of sins.
Right before his release from jail, Gary thanked me in private with the above words. He had first come into jail very ashamed of himself. In class, we talked about how some of the great believers in the Bible had been filled with shame on account of their deeds. For example: Moses killed a man; King David stole another man’s wife and arranged for the husband to be killed; and St. Paul once hated and persecuted Jesus and Christians. God forgave them and removed their shame.
Gary was amazed how St. Paul never forgot his shameful acts against Jesus and other Christians, but still found peace and strength in the grace of God. The Lord used the shame of St. Paul and Gary, to draw them closer to himself through his saving and forgiving love. In Paul’s case the Lord even called him to be a missionary. In Gary’s case, Gary looked for a Christian mentor and new ways to live his life. Perhaps Gary would never become a missionary, but sharing his faith and Christian living would be his offering to thank Jesus.
Gary was warned about wrong attitudes which some Christians and families have about inmates. He was encouraged to remember how Jesus took away his shame before God with forgiveness and love. He could always stand before the Lord without shame as a forgiven sinner. “Sharing hope with those who need it most” changed Gary’s life. He thanks those who made our classes possible. Thank You!
Romans 6:21-23 is now part of Gary’s life: “What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Chaplain Ken Wenzel