August 23, Sunday

UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on March 31, 2013.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Visiting Those in Prison”

Hebrews 13:2

“Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners.”

chad-tetzlaff-qs9g0Cz9oZU-unsplashIn the late 1980s, my wife and I used to visit a local prison every Monday to lead a Bible study (with Korean snacks).  Once, a perplexed prisoner, after receiving Korean gimbap (Korean sushi) for snacks, asked, “Do I remove the seed weed before eating this?”  I don’t remember how we started visiting this prison, but I would guess that it was because Jesus lauded those who visited him when he was in prison.  Surprised, they asked, “When did we see you . . . in prison and go to visit you,” after which Jesus answered, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mat. 25:39).

In the mid-1990s, our church regularly visited Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility in Whittier, California, a prisoner for young criminals. During one visit, I explained to a prisoner involved in the chaplain’s ministry the difficulty of encouraging our congregation, who knew nothing about the prison life, to participate in this ministry. Obligingly, he wrote in a letter:

“Hello, my brothers and sisters, I’m writing to let you know that we would like to meet you so that we can exchange prayers and fellowship in the Lord.  The brothers whom you meet are all living soldiers of God who are trying to spread the love of God in this DARK AND LONELY institution.  I was very encouraged and inspired the last time you guys came: a nice, delicious dinner, group prayer, the drama group, and an important message from your pastor. You guys make me smile when you are here. I may be down that Sunday and your church just picks me up along with the strength of the Lord.  While you are here there is no need to worry about your safety because you will be around brothers who have a serious love for God and by no means will have any type of negativity towards you. We are all in Christ and we love you in the Lord.  We’d love to hear from you.”

In the mid to late 2000s, I had an opportunity to teach and preach regularly at a Mexican prison and I must say that they were the most captive audience (no pun intended) I have ever had.  And I will never forget one funny episode involving a prisoner named Javier.  On one Sunday, as we were about to enter the prison facility, Javier, who had just been released after serving 12 years, greeted us.  Wanting to worship with us, Javier wanted to reenter the prison but, of course, the prison guards would not allow that.

So pray about being involved in mercy ministries such as visiting prisoners, sick and lonely people that you might know or even the hospice and convalescence homes.  During this COVID season, finding people in need shouldn’t be too hard.  Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:36: “I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”  It not only benefits them but it will keep our hearts close to the Lord.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help me to be the person You can use to help people in need.  Help me to remember those in prison and figure out ways to help them to be restored back to society and to You.  Remind me to live no longer for myself.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Chronicles 16

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