UNDERSTANDING NEW CHRISTIANS IN PRISON
It is important to remember that God is also our Father and talking to him should be like talking to any other person. One doesn’t always have to have a special time to sit and talk with friends unless it is about something private or intense. Same goes with God. Sometimes a private, special time is needed, but it is important to talk with God throughout the day. The special times with God can be done in the one hour a day of private time, otherwise, one can pray on the way to chow, walking in the yard, during count time, using the shower, etc.
Chow time is another stressful daily activity that your friend or relative will experience. The facility sends the prisoners to the chow hall to eat three times a day. It is very crowded and noisy and is set up similar to a high school cafeteria. The officers are always trying to push the inmates in and push them out again. There is no relaxing while one eats. The food service has a couple of different food schedules each month. These food schedules are the same food items year after year. They are rotated weekly so that there is some change in the food items from week to week. When a week arrives, that the food schedule has meals that no one likes, usually that whole week is bad. People get grumpy and angry when hunger is not adequately satisfied. Sometimes the food doesn’t even smell good or isn’t even cooked right. There have been times it is served raw or spoiled to the inmates. You wouldn’t consider giving it to your dog to eat.
People outside of prison could choose to go to the nearest grocery store or restaurant for something else to eat, but an inmate has only two choices – go hungry or visit the “store man”. It’s really hard if one chooses to go hungry and then is lying in bed while his bunky is eating something delicious. All he can do is smell it and listen to him eat. Since the prison store is open only every two weeks, there is always the “store man”. He is another inmate that sells store items for an additional charge when the store is closed. This can cause many problems though, because most inmates don’t know how to be responsible with their money. An inmate can rack up a huge bill with the “store man” and then when the inmate does get money, he will have to pay on his debt. That starts the process of always being in debt. One misconception that many have is that the Department of Corrections will provide all of your friend or relative’s needs in prison. Nothing could be further from the truth. A great way to help your friend or relative reduce this stress is by sending $10 or $15 a month. That is a month’s wage in prison.
The language in prison is another stress factor your friend or loved one has to deal with especially as a new Christian. As Christians, cussing, and filthy talk is terrible to listen to because it is very offensive to the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Most new Christians immediately begin to change his own bad habit of using foul words. In prison, it becomes doubly difficult when one is confronted with others speaking that way every day all day long. Change is not easily accepted when it is from bad to good. If it gets around that an inmate is trying to stop cussing, then there usually will be persecution. A good verse to use for this is 2 Corinthians 5:17:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!It is important to help your friend or loved one understand that it is God who changes us. The more one learns to hand over his cares and burdens to God, the more he will grow in peace and strength. Practicing this daily is imperative. Imagine for a moment that after getting up in the morning and having his devotions, your friend or relative feels joy and
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