Chaplain Lynn G. Robinson
An ordained Baptist minister, Lynn Robinson has pastored churches since 1981, and he holds a B.A. in Religion & Philosophy from Virginia Union University (VUU) and an M. Div. degree from VUU’s School of Theology. Lynn began serving as chaplain at Deerfield Correctional Center (the only state prison with a geriatric unit) in March of 2007. He is respected for his compassionate ministry with geriatric offenders, their families and with the prison staff, and he is perhaps best known for “playing Santa Claus” at the facility each Christmas (for which he received a certificate of commendation from the Governor of Virginia).
“Jesus never went out of his way to help anybody – because he never thought it was out of his way.” This sentence sums up Chaplain Lynn Robinson’s attitude while ministering to the men at Deerfield (Main) Correctional Center. With 1070 men on the mostly geriatric compound, Chaplain Robinson sees men who have tremendous need. “We have a few guys here as wheelchair pushers and care-givers, but it is mostly geriatric.”
Starting with GraceInside in March of 2007, he shares the story of a “gentleman here with Lou Gehrig ’s disease. He and I became very close. At the time, I was also friends with a pastor whose wife was dealing with this. Between the two entities…it showed me the need to show compassion, to let people know they are not alone in whatever they go through. When he moved to the infirmary, we became so close.” Most folks on the “outside” don’t think about men and women in prison who become ill, develop diseases and age in prison. Chaplain Robinson is reminded all day long each day.
Just recently Chaplain Robinson shares they had three or four men whose families were given the blessing of the Warden to come in and visit with their family member as they approached death. “We have a blessing of favor. My clerks have passes so they are allowed to go and be with the men in the infirmary. We try to keep our hands on it. I have trained them as much as I can with hospice. One of my clerks is a former pastor. You are taught when you do your [clinical work] in graduate school not to get too close to them. But, I cross that line…the love of Christ in me. When I hear of one of the men passing, it shakes me. As much as I go home every day, this is like my extended family…these are all my family members.”
“Every year, I dress up as Santa Clause and go through the infirmary, the assisted living area and offer a [treat]. To see them light up…to see their faces…It gives me such a feeling…to know that I’m in the Lord’s will. When you look at the model of Christ, we must be there to serve our fellow man. It is not about me.”
“I’m in a position to help people, to give people guidance, to try to restore hope…A little boy in my church was having trouble learning to ride his bike and had lost his nerve. Hope gives you what you need to try again. I am in a position to try and encourage people and offer them hope. Hope is never lost.”