A maximum security prison seems an unlikely destination when seeking a transformative encounter with God. Yet, I recently experienced God as never before amid high fences, barbed wire, legions of guards, and multiple checkpoints, while in the company of extraordinary men and women.
I attended the Fund for Theological Education’s Leaders in Ministry Conference held at the historic Scarritt-Bennett Center in Nashville, Tennessee. During the conference I participated as a roundtable leader and mentor pastor to a fresh crop of FTE Fellows as we faithfully engaged the conference theme, “Builders of Beloved Community.” A site visit to the Riverbend Maximum Security Prison was part of this phenomenal experience. …
After we successfully navigated the extensive prison checkpoints, officials escorted our group to the chapel, a small room with cinder-block walls and aged wooden benches. When we arrived, the incarcerated persons warmly greeted us and engaged in mutual dialogue around matters of faith, rehabilitation, transformation, redemption, forgiveness, and ecclesiology. Many lessons struck me as significant during our all-too-short encounter with these amazing men.
—Michael W. Waters, Freestyle: Reflections on Faith, Family, Justice, and Pop Culture (Fresh Air Books, 2014)
Can you remember a time when you encountered God in an unlikely place or in the presence of unlikely people? Join the conversation.
Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it.
—Hebrews 13:2 (CEB)
Prayer for the Week
Help my generation rise to meet the challenges of our day with courage and integrity. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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