Revitalizing Families, Restoring Hope
It is beyond dispute that, in the Bible, the family has been one of God’s key institutional designs for blessing our world. Right back to the garden of Eden, where human beings are encouraged to multiply and fill the earth, it has been families that have achieved this God-given goal. God is the author, giver and sustainer of life. Period. And families are His design.
By describing the family as an institution, my meaning is something structurally beneficial to society endowed by someone or something. I passionately believe this is what families can, often are and should be. Who would deny that, at their best, families are places of love, security, provision, and mutual flourishing and benefit? It is true that, because we are all broken and in need of healing in our lives, no family is perfect. Countless popular books have been written with on variations on the theme of “my family history and how I survived it.”
Yet, many quality academic studies affirm that a strong, cohesive family is still the most robust and best communal building block we have. Those of us who are privileged to have been brought up in a positive, healthy environment like this should be perpetually grateful to God, our parents and even our siblings.
Sadly, our world is also full of family break up and disruption, especially in the prisons of our world. Go into almost any prison and talk to men (more than 90% of those in prison are men) and you encounter the same story again and again. Absent fathers producing absent fathers is like a mathematical equation with the same result each time, as the playground to prison pathway is trodden again and again with all its relational vandalism and violence. A crying shame and a seemingly endless cycle of curse and criminality.
But when fighting off darkness, it is better to light a candle than to simply curse the lack of light. It is in this spirit that I commend this edition of Touchstone to you. Things can be done to change this state of affairs. This issue is rich with meaningful interventions that can help break this cycle.
The work being done throughout the world in our national ministries for the children and families of prisoners is so beautiful and varied. There are so many stunning examples of healing and restoration for the orphans and widow of incarceration.
PFI’s signature programs, both behind bars and with families, also add to the mix and result in blessing to individuals, families and then on into community as dark ripple effects are disrupted by light.
We can be the Grace of God, Kingdom ambassadors and agents of transformation. I know I’m writing to brothers and sisters who give themselves, often selflessly, to this work. Work that is often hard and challenging. But this work, this investment in nurturing and strengthening the bonds between family members that have been strained and torn by incarceration, is an investment in one of God’s primary ways of blessing the world.
But let’s be assured our work is always worth it:
“We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.” 2 Corinthians 6:3-4, 6-7 NLT
May God richly bless you and continue to empower you through His love.