The People That Walked in Darkness…

by Daniel Theiben, Restorative Housing Unit Chaplain (Red Onion State Prison & Wallen Ridge State Prison):

Walking through maximum security pods, I noticed that R. B. was downcast.  When I asked how he was doing, he shared that his heroin addiction had driven him to commit a “stupid crime.”  He was worried that when he gets out of prison in less than a year his wife will leave him if he relapses.  He wanted me to send him some materials on how to overcome addiction.

Deeply mourned by his brokenness, I told him that his only hope is in Christ.  Before I prayed, I asked if he would like to trust Christ.  He accepted my invitation, and his countenance immediately changed!  While delivering reading materials to his pod a week later, I noticed he had a big smile on his face.  “I have never had the peace and the joy that I have right now!” R. B. testified, “It’s really real!  I’m not the same person you met a week ago.”

Depression is real behind bars.  One man that I came across at Wallen Ridge State Prison had a bunch of pills in a small pill cup – ready to attempt suicide.  In that moment, I prayed for God’s Spirit to give me words of comfort.  I don’t remember exactly what I told him (and I do not remember his name), but I informed a Correctional Officer about it so that the young man could get help.

Depression may be real, but Jesus is “really real.”  R. B.’s words continually come back to me.  Do we really believe that Jesus is “really real”? 

Please pray for R. B. and others who find themselves in the darkness of our state prisons.  Pray for Chaplains, that it may be said of our ministry, “The people which sat in darkness have seen a great light, and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” (Matthew 4:16) 

What light do we have to offer the incarcerated?  “I am the Light of the world,” Jesus proclaims in John 8:12, “He that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”  When we share Jesus with these inmates, we shine a bright Light into a very dark place!

Like the old song says: “Won’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine!”

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