One of my greatest joys of my life is serving “the least of these” in my role as a chaplain for the Forsyth Jail & Prison Ministries. In Matthew 25, Jesus challenges His disciples to visit those in prison, and, in effect, do the most for those whom society considers to be the least.
As a chaplain, I have the awesome privilege of ministering to the men and women incarcerated in Forsyth County in the county jail and state prison. Our ministry partners with over 100 churches and over 700 volunteers to ensure that weekly Bible studies, worship services, and other programs are conducted to meet the spiritual and temporal needs of the inmates, their families, as well as the officers and staff of our facilities.
As with any form of ministry, jail and prison ministry comes with its challenges, but those challenges are no comparison to the great joys that accompany serving the Lord in this capacity. One such joy-inducing, awe-inspiring moments came for me one morning as I was making rounds at the jail.
This particular morning as I was handing out Bibles and talking with inmates, one man ran from the back of the dorm to greet me with a HUGE smile on his face. He ran up to me, shook my hand, and said, “I pray for you every day! You helped bring a miracle in my life!”
Now that alone would be enough to bring a tear to my eye, but what made this moment so special is the knowledge that when I met this young man, there was no smile on his face. There were no prayers being uttered from his lips. In fact, the first time I sat down with him, his neck was still raw from the burns from the sheet he had tied around his neck just before jumping off a second-story veranda trying to hang himself. Thankfully,the sheet broke.
He had been so beaten down by life that he felt like he had no hope. However, I along with the other chaplains, ministered grace to him when he needed it the most. Just a few short months after that experience, this same man was walking around, smiling, helping to encourage other inmates…and even the chaplain. I say “this same man”, but really he had been changed. He was a completely different person. A guy who wanted to be dead was now helping to bring life to others in jail.
This is what happens when we commit to following Jesus’ challenge to visit those who are incarcerated. Your prayers, donations, volunteer time and efforts help to shine the light of Christ into a dark place and help to bring life to those who need it most – the least of these.
-Chaplain Tejado Hanchell