Last Wednesday we visited the prison for the last time before the Christmas holiday. Because of this, the superintendent gave us permission to bring in food that we had prepared and give it out to them.
To make things easier, the ladies put all of the food into individual to-go boxes, or as we call them, “snack boxes.” We ended up with 50 to give out!
That small snack box wasn’t a huge thing for us (just a small piece of chicken, sandwiches, and some cake). But to those prisoners it was a VERY precious gift. For some of them it may have been a very long time since they’d eaten a piece of cake!
Though there were only twenty-seven inmates at Wednesdays service, we gave out the extras to those who usually attend…..
Because showing you love them is more important than saying you love them.
During 2022 we’ve come consistently for prison ministry and shared with those men the message of the Gospel. A message that says God loves them, and wants to transform their lives. Through this we have also told the men we loved them, and cared about their needs.
This is a wonderful thing to do of course! But as the saying goes, “talk is cheap.”
Eventually we must stop saying we love them, and do something to meet their needs.
I’m reminded of the illustration James gives in chapter two about works being a true fruit of faith (Salvation). He says if someone comes to our house asking for food, and we have food in the house but don’t offer any, we don’t really love them. James goes farther by saying the person might tell them “I hope you get some food” but will not share their own (James 2:14-15)
In the same way saying we hope someone meets their needs but refusing to meet those some needs when we can dishonors the Gospel.
There is a balance of course because it’s possible to take up the opposite extreme caring only about their physical needs while ignoring their spiritual one. But I’m afraid many Christians are so worried about doing this that they go out of their way to overlook the physical needs altogether!
The proper response is to emphasize spiritual needs…
And then look for special opportunities to meet physical needs.
We cannot meet every need of those around us. But with the Lord’s help, we can find opportunities to minister in practical ways. And its as we show our love instead of just saying we love that the Gospel is clearly proclaimed.