Mary Mortenson, Pamela Deacon-Joyner, Prison Congregations of America (1)
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Jan 08, 2017
by Pastor Scott Jamieson, Church of Another Chance, inside the Nashville, TN men's jail
This unedited letter from one of [Church of Another Chance] members speaks to the powerful work of our churches inside prisons. Patrick was one of more than 400 new men who attended services at Church of Another Chance during 2016.
Dear Pastor Scott,
I just wanted to put some gratitude on record for the works you and the volunteers of Church of Another Chance engage in. A friend of mine once explained to me that people can pretend to care, but they can not pretend to show up in, and in regardless to, your life. You and the church are the embodiment of caring, works, and action.
Left alone and depressed in a jail cell in Nashville after getting a DUI, I had no hope to go forward in life. Most of my family and friends had shunned me. I had no one that would take my calls while I was incarcerated. Being warehoused in jail, there was little stimulus and encouragement regarding my life. I had lost my housing, and most of my possessions. I did not even have a ride to town from jail upon release. I was uncertain if life was worth the effort. I was at wits end. I was alone, depressed, and spent most of my time planning my own end. Being forgotten by the outside world and faced with the adverse reinforcement of our current jail system, death seemed a viable option.
Someone invited me to attend your services who knew I was not doing well. Reluctantly I agreed and went. I must say I avoid church because of the hypocrisy. Lots of people seem to find God in foxholes, and then dismiss the praxis after the dust settles. The service was not at all what I expected. Yourself and volunteers greeted me with engaging genuine smiles and open arms. You asked me real questions about real issues and asked how you could help. You provided some concrete real life solutions and pointed me in the directions to assist with housing. One of the volunteers Jordan, even asked me if I needed a ride upon release. Most importantly you, and everyone with COAC, treated me like a human being. Being convinced that my worst actions now defined me, I had sunk so low that I couldn’t look myself or others in the eye. Upon my first attendance to COAC services, I felt love, hope, compassion, concern, and most importantly works in the form of action. When you said, “How can I help?” I believed you really meant it and you did.
It is easy to be a holy man on the top of a mountain. It is easy to be a man of spiritual principals when we are isolated and our backs are up against a wall. It is difficult to engage in life on life’s terms free in society to make decisions. That is where I am truly impressed and grateful. Not only did you act as a vessel to spark an ember of hope in me while I was in jail, you continue to keep abreast of my life to this day. I was so down and was convinced there was no hope. COAC and yourself gave me hope of a life worth living and perusing. I am sober and engaging in a spiritual life worth living as a direct result of you and everyone at COAC showing up in my life...at just the correct time.
Thank you so very much. I am eternally grateful.