Can anything good come from jail? The biblical background for the question comes from the beginning of Jesus’s ministry in the Gospel of John (1:43-51). Nathaniel is approached by Philip with the good news that he has found the Messiah, the one to whom Moses and the prophets pointed. Nathaniel does not believe that good news and persons of worth can come from Nazareth. Nathaniel is a skeptic who in voicing his contempt for Nazareth exposes his prejudice against its people.
Can anything good come from jail? The ministerial background for the question arose from a commencement celebration at the jail for eight women who completed a 7 Habits of Highly Effective People course. Eight women spent ten weeks reading, praying, sharing, listening, crying, repenting, and reflecting with one another. They each invited another female inmate to “come and see” (John 1:46) good emanate from the jail. God’s Son was raised, shaped, and formed in a small and insignificant place, not a place of fame or wealth. All people and every place are important and esteemed by God and Christ despite our preconceived judgment against them. Good came out of Nazareth in the person of Jesus Christ. He has come out of Nazareth into the Forsyth County Law Enforcement Detention Center to show that in His knowing them completely He loves them deeply (John 1:48).
Skeptics, like Nathaniel, are both inside and outside our jail. Skeptics attend 7 Habits classes, and we are okay with that. Like Philip, FJPM extends an invitation to skeptics to come and see for themselves. Skeptics observe a class or attend a graduation, and we are okay with that.
Can anything good come from jail? Yes, we have seen it in the lives of approximately twenty-five women who have graduated from 7 Habits since 2014, and not one has returned to our jail. As we continue in this ministry of reconciliation, may we all see even greater things done in and come out of our Nazareth–our jail.
-Chaplain Angela Roberson