Apostolic Letters from Prison
In the book Ministry with Prisoners & Families: The Way Forward, Madeline McClenny-Sadler offers a “Letter to African American Churches Concerning the Saints Coming Home from Prison.” It uses “the hybrid style of a Pauline epistle and a scholarly article” as a call to action (140).
Inspired by her letter, several PrisonLectionary.net contributors took up the same task. The second comes to us from “AMN .”
In case you missed the first, you can find it here.
An Epistle of the Incarcerated
To the 21st Century Church
I, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, to the saints of the 21st Century Church and to the faithful in Christ Jesus. Grace be to you and peace from God our father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the Heavenly places in Christ.
My brothers and sisters, I write unto you with a heavy heart and with a burden of calling to remembrance to you our duty as believers of the one true faith. He has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be Holy and without blame before him in love.
Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the pleasure of his will, to the praise and glory of this grace, wherein he has made us accepted in his beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the richness of his grace.
We have also been called to be a light in this dark and cruel world and to never be conformed to its evil ways. We are to exact the same level of forgiveness that our Heavenly father does to all who believe that the precious blood of Jesus Christ was shed on our behalf to those who are in need of it.
The Prince of the power of the air, that old serpent, has beguiled you into thinking that throwing away the key for the convicted criminals in America is the solution to society’s problems. Satan has “Hood-winked” you into believing that criminals cannot and will not be rehabilitated, nor transformed into the likeness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Have you already forgotten that he has made known unto us the mystery of his will? It is according to his great pleasure, which he has purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times, he might gather together in all things in Christ both, which are in Heaven and which are on Earth, even in him, in whom we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will.
Have you already forgotten the love of God, the father, and his everlasting Grace, that it should be shed or the hearts of all men and women equally? Yet, there’s been a huge neglecting by today’s Church upon millions and millions of Americans who suffer in cruel and unbearable prisons today. The mercy, justice, and humility that our blessed Lord requires of us to exact on his behalf is being disregarded towards those who are being held captive in American prisons during this time of spiritual war.
I come before you, pleading my case to you, as do all the other saints that have wrongfully cast out of society and are now encased behind concrete walls and bars made of steel, and ask that you join hands with us to fight for prison and sentencing reform.
Remember the exceeding greatness of his power towards us who believe, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead and set him at his own right hand in the Heavenly places. He has put all things under his feet and has given him to be the head over all things to the Church, which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all.
It is you he has quickened, who was once dead in trespasses and sins, and has been pardoned by the blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, among whom also we had our conversations in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind; and was by nature the children of wrath, even as all the victims of this Mass Incarceration Epidemic.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loves us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ (Both the free and imprisoned). It is by grace that we are saved, because there is not one that can stand before our Holy and Devout God in their own righteousness. For we all fall short of his glory and are considered to be convicted felons before his very own Holy eyes.
Once again, I call out to you, members of the 21st Century Church, to remember that Christ himself calls you to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, take in Strangers, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and also to begin the process of emancipating the imprisoned that are being held captive by Satan’s world system.
Behind these so-called “Correctional Centers” is inhumane healthcare, eroding living conditions, poisoned water, malnutrition, pain, suffering, isolation, oppression, tyranny, neglect, and rivers upon rivers of tears that warrant the compassion of Christ to be shed upon the hearts of the men and women serving time.
Christ calls you here today to cry out against this evil injustice to finally put an end to the atrocities that have been falsely labeled as the Department of Corrections. Do you choose to remain silent because you feel that some people do not deserve to be forgiven and have their debt wiped clean? Is it not that God is willing that none should punish?
How do we fight this uphill battle? We must do so with the Amor of God to stand against the wiled of the Devil (for it is he who is behind this wretched Prison-Industrial-Complex Regime).
For we wrestle not against Flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against spiritual wickedness in these prisons. Wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. Stand, therefore, having your loins girded with the truth, and having on the Breastplate of Righteousness, which is the Righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Have your feet shod with the preparation of speaking the gospel of Christ’s peace. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you should be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. Put on also the helmet of Salvation and the Sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Holy and Eternal word.
We are soldiers of the one and only Lord and Savior of Mankind, Jesus Christ. We are to wear his Holy Armor without fear and fight the good fight until his return is fulfilled. Always remember that when we wear this indestructible armor, Satan and his demons cannot tell the difference between you and Jesus Christ.
We need to make a stand and demand for prison and sentencing reform so that the incarcerated can be rightfully restored to be useful citizens in society and God’s Holy Kingdom. We need all members of the 21st Century Church to grasp their mantle and be a light on a hill, an unsilenced voice and true examples of Christ’s compassion and mercy.
So that you may also know the affairs behind these concrete walls and how we do, volunteers and faithful ministers of our Lord and Savior will make known unto you all things.
All this, we make known unto you for the same purpose of understanding the struggle of being incarcerated during this time of plight. We are broken, but we are far from shattered and still useful for the Master’s good work.
Peace be to all the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all of them that love Our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.