Soda’s, Snacks and a lesson I will never forget.

1 Apr

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40

We stood at the large steel door as the officer opened it. One by one,  we walked into the prison’s visiting center for those housed in yard 2. We handed the officer our ID’s,visitors pass and right hand so it could be stamped. We were then greeted by a young man who radiated thankfulness just to see us as if he had been expecting us for days. His smile was infectious and desire to serve Christ like; yet the outfit he wore told his story.

In a vertical line, on his blue pants read the words, “CDC Prisoner.” As I looked at his gentle face I began to wonder how he ended up here? What events in his life could have possibly led him to this dark and seemingly hopeless place? These are questions I will never have answers too but definitely something you think about visiting a place like that. He pulled out the chairs for us to sit and asked us if we needed anything. After saying no, and thanking him, he quickly left so he could  greet more people.

As I sat there, I watched that young man and the other two who also had the same job in the visiting center. They hurried around the room, moving chairs, setting up tables, cleaning off tables, taking out the trash, helping kids find books and games, even taking pictures of the other inmates and their families. They seemed genuinely happy to be serving despite the fact that they were doing all this “behind bars.” I went over to get some Uno cards, and the young man who greeted us, asked me if I had been there before. I told him that I had about 8 months earlier to visit my father. He said that he remembered my sister and I and it was nice to see us again. It was in that moment that I realized, weekend after weekend, he works in that one room, helping other families enjoy their time with the inmate they are visiting, and he goes without seeing his own. My heart began to ache a bit for this man, and the other two who had now joined our conversation.

I went to the vending machine to buy my dad another soda and some snacks and wondered when was the last time someone bought them something? When was the last time those 3 men felt some sense of value and worth? To the system, they are simply a number, but to God they are so much more. They clearly had made choices in their life that led them down this road, but I began to think… haven’t I? I walk in their as a visitor, but it is only by the grace and mercy of my Heavenly Father, I am not the one being VISITED! God gave me a second, third, twelfth chance, and thankfully I learned my lesson before it was too late, but did that make me better than these 3 guys, or any other inmate in there for that matter? My heart was then filled with thankfulness and humility for having a God who saved me, but the answer to my question was simple, No… I am not any better at all.

That day, our visit was cut short due to the number of people waiting to visit as well. The officer came over to our table, handed us a piece of paper and said that we would have a few minutes but then we would have to leave so the table come to given to someone waiting. It is funny because it seems that my sister, husband and I, had all been touched by those 3 guys. With little conversation, each of us grabbed our plastic bag filled with quarters and dollar bills and went to different vending machines, each getting an Ice Tea and snacks for them. The smiles on their faces as we gave them the food and heart-felt “thank you’s” meant more to me than I can say. I left praying those guys felt appreciated and valued, even if it were by complete strangers.

Later that night, while standing in our kitchen, Erik and I started talking about our visit with my dad. It was during this conversation where I realized the impact those men made, not only on my heart, but Erik’s as well. He said that he was humbled by their positive attitudes in spite of their situations. He said he was thankful that he was able to help make one of those guys days a little better. To us, a bag of chips, is a bag of chips, but to them, it was being noticed and appreciated. It was 3 people (strangers) who didn’t judge them for where they were but instead, did something for them in spite of it. It was a small act of kindness on our end, but who knows what that did for them? Maybe they will look for my dad and talk with him about us. Maybe they noticed that we are “different” from a lot of other people who come in and out of that visiting center and they will want to know what that is and my dad will be able to tell them … Jesus.

It seems like a simple lesson but unfortunately one that is easily forgotten. These 3 gentlemen reminded me of that lesson and it all comes back to this… what you do for the least of your brothers… you do for Jesus.

3 Responses to “Soda’s, Snacks and a lesson I will never forget.”

  1. sis April 1, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    crying…crying…i needed this cry it always feels so good to come across something you needed to hear in the right time! and it is so true, there is no doubt in my mine those guys will forget, and you never know what something so little and simple could turn into…I will now do the same every time iam there..and one day when they ask God will give me the words they need to hear! and that is walking like christ! this was so so good, gona go and read it again. ,love you

    • Summer's Blog April 2, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

      I am so happy you liked it. I was running and listening to Pastor Chris when this came to me, and I knew I wanted and needed to write about it. That visit changed my life in so many ways and I am so thankful those 3 sweet and caring strangers, were apart of it.

  2. A Yard 2 Visitor June 17, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    His smile is infectious…thank you for sharing your story.

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