Holy Rehabilitation!

Jun 19, 2016

By Rev. Diane Harrison, Grace Place UMC inside the Tennessee women's correctional facility


This spring we were told that all the women at the prison where my congregation, Grace Place UMC is located, were going to be relocated to another facility.  We knew that we needed to recruit some new volunteers from churches in that geographic area so I set up a meeting at the largest Methodist church near there to give information to people who thought they might be interested in becoming a volunteer. 

Towards the end of the meeting, after I had given them a description of all the worship, small group and other activities we offered, a lady raised her hand to ask a question.  Her question was this, “Do you offer anything to rehabilitate them? You know, to help them when they get out.”  I started to say, “No ma’am, all we have to offer them is Jesus.” But then I realized that it was a wonderful question.  And it provided a wonderful opportunity.  An opportunity to think about how this thing we call a “prison congregation” really impacts lives. 

I said, as I had just begun to ponder her question, “Well, you know you can take all the classes in the world and learn all the skills but if your heart isn’t healed you are still broken.  Because I realized in that moment that we are, as Paul put it, fragile clay jars.  Some of us are blessed and receive only a hairline crack or a chip or two.  Others are broken and smashed to pieces. 

“Oh ma’am,” I wanted to say, “don’t you see, only God can put those pieces back together, only God can heal a broken, wounded heart, only God truly rehabilitates. But as the church (inside and out) we get to be instruments of that healing.  Healing comes as we gather as a church and pass the peace, and break the bread and drink the cup, as we sit around in a circle and discuss a book we’ve read and listen to the thoughts of others, as we gather as a council, selected by the community, and work to come to consensus as we make important decisions. As we affirm the worth of each person’s thoughts and ideas, we are witnessing the true transformation, the real “rehabilitation” of a soul. 

It doesn’t come from “the good folks” from the outside bringing in the “truth of the gospel.” It comes as we love as Christ taught us to love and share one another’s joys and sorrows.  It comes from the community as it lives, loves, struggles and grows together, inside and out.  


Category: healing

Add Pingback