Everyday I listen to child tell their story; where they are from, how they came to the prison, what life was like before, and what life is like now. After a month of listening to countless stories of abandonment, betrayal and suffering, it is starting to weigh heavily on me.
“My mother dropped me off because I was stubborn.”
“My parents don’t want me.”
“My parents are dead.”
“I ran away because I was being abused.”
“My stepmother lied to the police because she hates me.”
“I got lost and the police brought me here.”
“My parents don’t know where I am.”
It truly tears me apart listening to these children and at times I find myself growing angry.
For example, I was at M2 when I heard that Anita’s “step-mother” was in the office. The woman who severely abused Anita for years after her parents died and paid the police to get rid of her was just around the corner from me. I immediately burst into tears just knowing that she was nearby and in Anita’s presence. I immediately wanted to protect Anita from her. I wanted to scream at the woman who intentionally caused her to suffer for years. Thankfully I was already on the bus and was also told that the “step-mother” relinquished her rights to Anita. I don’t know how I would’ve reacted if I had actually come face-to-face with her but I probably would not have been displaying much mercy or forgiveness.
Then last week I met a a girl who was sent to M2 because she talked back to her mother. Seriously? If talking back to your parents meant jail time, I would still be completing my sentence. It’s called being a teenager! Back home, proper punishment would include being sent to your room without supper or being grounded for a week. Here, parents send their children to prison for months.
While it seems inevitable to be angry at the parents and the injustice of it all, it isn’t what God commands us to do. Yet, it’s something I struggle with constantly.
In Colossians 3:12-17, Paul writes “Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
Father, this is my prayer. I rely on you because I cannot do it alone. Help me to clothe myself in mercy, kindness, gentleness and patience daily. I want to be full of your spirit. Full of love and peace. Of humility. I thank you for your forgiveness and grace. Have mercy, oh God. I want to be your representative in the darkness. May my words and actions bring glory to your name always. Amen.