Friday, May 15, 2015

What it Means to be Wanted

{Matt - released yesterday}

My life has become inextricably, intoxicatingly enmeshed with prisoners, women and men who have known a life without freedom, who understand what it means to claw towards the light. Though my relationships with them don't match the intensity of Cory's by half,  my worldview continues shifting and I see glimpses of life through the lenses of who they are (which is not much different from who I am.)

Picture me just a few years ago, a churchy girl who pretended to be good and did everything in my power to avoid hard places and busted-up lives. I had never set foot in a jail and had no intention of changing that. It wasn't on my radar. I saw inmates as criminals if I saw them at all, a different class of sinner than myself. I figured they were getting what they deserved.

And maybe some of them are.

But it doesn't change God's wild love for them, or the fact that He commands us to make them our family, just as Jesus did.

One of my favorite books this year helps make sense of my heart. The author, a jail chaplain, writes, "This was what I'd always wanted, the culmination of my pursuit through the night, the jail portal, crawling into padlocked trailers and into locked-down lives: that is, friends outside the church who can help me find the heavenly banquet, who will dream with me through the barriers that stand between this world and what is still possible, friends who want more than this world, who will accompany me through my own rebellion and despair and foul language, who will pray with me." - Wanted, by Chris Hoke

Cory hosted the first annual Elkhart County Jail Ministry banquet and debuted this video of one of his dear friends, James, who was recently sent to prison.

I'd like you to meet him, then I'd like you to go meet a James and love him with all the hot pursuit with which you love yourself. I'd like you to experience the piercing beauty of realizing James is you.

To those of you who know the pain and glory of loving broken people, I'm standing here with you, linking my arm to yours. To those who want to but haven't yet, come with us. You'll never be the same.

(And to my friend Katie, who emailed me the prayers her and her friends recently spoke over the inmates of the Elkhart County jail from hundreds of miles away, your kindness broke me in the best way.)

 Thank you all for being my family. Every day, we grow. We do it together.

Elkhart County Jail Ministry website
Elkhart County Jail Ministry facebook page

*affiliate link


  1. My hubby is a federal prison chaplain. I LOVE that his part in the story has changed the way I see the story. I can't wait to read "Wanted"...heading to Amazon to find it right now.

    1. Well, the two of us could probably talk for hours...

      Let me know what you think of the book!

  2. That video....I needed to get me, OFF ME. My focus has been inward this week. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for what you and Cory are doing for the cause of Christ. It encourages and strengthens those who you are serving and also gives others believers fresh motivation and tender hearts to go out and DO, LOVE AND SERVE.

  3. "It was like learning to live all over again." Man. May it be so for all of us, every day.

    My dad worked with Chuck Colson when Prison Fellowship was getting started. Holy holy work.

  4. You're really doing His work.

  5. Just had a chance to watch the video....SO moving!!! Love Does.......

  6. Had to wait until I was home to watch the video (yes…I read your blog on my break at work), because I KNEW it would be powerful! First I want to say THANK YOU to every jail and prison chaplain out there- and to all the volunteers in the Bible ministries- I know very well the impact it has on these men and consequently their families.
    Second- the video opened a door for a conversation between the Lord and myself regarding my personal situation with my sons recovery and return to "the world"- and my role in that, through Christ.
    Thank you for the courage to post such powerful and important messages!

  7. Wow! God is at work in me through your blog....I am working with a family as a volunteer GAL and I am astonished how He is showing me how to love the least of these.

  8. Thank you for touching me with this message. I bought the book Wanted, not only for myself, but to share with the sheriff that belongs to our church. He has a small prison ministry, too. Please keep writing your truth, and thank you for keeping it real and raw. THATS what changes hearts and direction. THATS what wakes the sleeper in us - God's voice through you.

  9. What a beautiful, inspiring post and video.

    God's continued blessing on you and Cory as you love these children of God.

    Thank you for sharing it all here on your blog ~ FlowerLady

  10. So glad you shared this... good for me to watch today. Thanks