Hope For the Hopeless

Jan 22, 2018

by Wayne Gallipo, PCA Board Member

At a recent worship service at St. Dysmas Lutheran Church inside the walls of the South Dakota State Penitentiary I asked the men to finish this sentence, “It is hard for me to forgive when……”.  Several of the men said they were unable to forgive themselves.  They are living with the oppressive burden of shame, guilt and lack of peace in their lives.

The text I focused on in that worship service was from the book of Jonah.  God calls Jonah to go to Nineveh which he calls a great city and he is to speak against their evil ways.  But Jonah wants nothing to do with witnessing to “those people”.  In Jonah’s eyes, they are evil and not worthy of God’s grace and he wants nothing to do with being a part of their salvation.  Eventually Jonah reluctantly and half-heartedly accepts God’s call, walks part way into the city and gives the world’s worst sermon: 5 words in Hebrew, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”  The people of Nineveh and even the animals repent and God changed his mind and did not destroy Nineveh, that great city!

It is striking to me that God refers to a city full of evil people as a great city.  Jonah and no doubt many others had written them off; “Those people” do not deserve God’s grace!  Don’t send me to witness to “Those people”.  In this wonderful story, we see that all people are loved by God and all people are worthy of receiving God’s grace, even “those people”, the evil people of Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian empire that destroyed Israel!

The men and women in jail and prison cells across the country need to hear this word.  They need people who are willing to go into the jails and prisons across the country and let the inmates there know that they are loved by God, that they too are considered great in God’s eyes.  Prison Congregations of America’s (PCA) mission is to plant congregations in these places so that the men and women in jails and prisons will know that they are forgiven, loved and treasured by God.  In these congregations, they hear the good news proclaimed and they meet visitors from the outside that let them know they are valued, loved and not forgotten.  I invite you to pray for inmates who feel they are unforgivable.  I invite you to support PCA with your financial gifts so more prison ministries can be developed.  www.prisoncongregations.org/donate

Praise God that all of you have congregations where you can worship and hear that even sinners like you are considered great in God’s eyes and are forgiven and loved.  God’s peace be with you all.


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