An inmate I shall identify as Aaron recently returned to the Regional Justice Center in Kent for a "first violation" after failing community corrections officer expectations.
After spending a large amount of time with him over the past years, it was disturbing to listen to his excuses for falling as a result of drinking and getting another woman pregnant.
The take home lesson:
We learn the real heart of the man after he "feels the fresh air on his face" and returns to community life.
It's just like you and me.
What are we like after we leave church or finish a productive Bible study or prayer time?
That's the real test!
This account represents an honest side of jail and prison ministry. From when this man first entered the RJC, he struggled with telling the truth about what he was dealing with as a result of alcohol consumption. At first, he was charged with domestic violence with his former living partner. He wouldn't reveal what led to the split with the former partner.
As he gets settled into the jail experience, Aaron displays an amazing capacity to actively invite other men to Bible studies and fellowship together.
Both times he was released out of the jail system, he failed to attend any church and to pursue small group men's accountability relationships openly available to him. He is unknowing stumbling over a very dangerous bridge.
How bad was his drinking experience, this time? I really don't know. Putting things together requires multiple questions to connect the dots. He is a very clear thinking and verbal. He winds his way around the truth as the bridge sways in the wind. This time, I was very clear about confronting his dishonesty.
This latest partner found him drunk in the woods. How bad was it? I asked him to read Ephesians 5:3-4 and Hebrews 13:5-6 with me.
3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
He response to me was that he "would be a lot worse off if she hadn't helped me...I feel really good with her...we love each other...we are really happy together." Well, she's pregnant. How much was he drinking while he was "feeling all that fresh air"?
I recommended that he reread those passages. He finds himself in a very dangerous place on a real life swing bridge beyond whatever actions a judge or officer will take.