One night I asked for prayer requests. The requests were varied – “I’m completing AA this week and I need God’s help to see me through it; my mother is sick and in the hospital and we need to pray for her; I’ve got a job interview and I really need this job.” After what I thought was the last request, the man in front of me raised his hand. His name was Steven, and he said that he prayed that he could see his daughter again before he died.

What Steven didn’t know was that Laura and I were in the midst of the deepest valley of our lives. We were living the prodigal son story with our eldest child, and at that point it’d been over a year since we had spoken with our son. Steven and I needed exactly the same thing. When I got home through tears I told Laura that what I had learned that night was that there is absolutely no difference between the least and the lost and me. Steven and I were both desperately need of God’s grace.

Mother Teresa says that what is wrong with our world is that we have just “forgotten that we belong to each other.” I think that is what each of us discovers when we go to the prison. We discover is that we belong to each other. We begin to recognize in each other the shape of God’s heart. We’re all in prisons of some kind. Some with iron bars; some of our own making. And the truth is the only way out is with us helping each other and through God’s grace. That’s why we go. Maybe the better question is, who is ministering to whom?

-Robert Esleeck, Transition to Work Program Director