By Doris Schroeder
I am excited…no; it’s not because of the title of this article…I am not behind bars.
Our son John, who has been a military chaplain and a jail chaplain, is coming home with his lovely wife Carol for a week. He will be talking at our Young at Heart Ministries on this Thursday, 10-11:15, at the Delos Smith Center, 101 West First, here in Hutch.
He retired from the military a couple years ago which was the delight of his life. He is continuing as a jail chaplain at the Pinellas County Jail (around 3000 inmates) in Clearwater, Florida, until his retirement in a couple years and will clue us into what it is really like. I know from what he has told me, it is not an easy job.
He will share with us some of the things they do to work with the inmates and will read some of the things they have written about being incarcerated. In fact, his talk is entitled “Free behind bars.“ It does seem when they are put in a place where they cannot commit any crimes, their thinking does begin to change and many realize how futile a wasted life is. He gets to have a service with the men once a week and will also tell us about some of that.
What’s interesting to me is that even before my father, Ed Kroeker, died in 1974, he was totally interested in speaking with the jail inmates. At that time we had two children at home: a boy, John David, and a girl, Judy Diane. Dad asked our family quartet to come along to the jail and sing, which we were glad to do.
Later, Hubby and I used to speak at the County Jail here in Hutch and realize what their thinking is like. Of course, some of them grew up in a home that was violent and were taught how to exist in that fashion and had no one to lead them in the right way. Others grew up in a good home but rebelled and wanted their own way, ALL the time.
It is when they got away from their environment, in a somewhat scary situation, they began to do some deeper thinking and they realized the futility of selfish thinking and living. It is then they looked around for other avenues they could follow. Jail or prison is a very captive situation and many will use this time to think constructively, if it is offered.
When we were involved in it, we were delighted there were some inmates that accepted Christ into their life and some of the women even held Bible Studies either daily or weekly. The trouble was, when they got out of jail, some gradually went back to the old friends that had led them astray. It is so important to start a new life and follow the right precepts.
John D. will give us some possible things we can do to help the inmates at our local jail, especially now when we are about to embark on a new jail at a new location here in Hutchinson. with the move-in date around the end of this summer. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some positive steps that could be taken to help them when they get out. From what I’ve been reading in the news occasionally, that seems to be what they are wanting to do. Instead of calling it ‘Jail” it will be called “a correction institution” This is a positive step in the right direction.
It is wonderful if they can learn some new skills in which they can make a living in a good environment when they get out. This, of course would help them to make new friends. Those who are incarcerated because of different addictions need to find other interests that would take their place. I certainly think getting interested in other hobbies: writing, etc. will help them to voice their concerns in such a way they will see the solution. The most important thing, however, is to find a spiritual counselor that will help them understand why God loves them and wants to lead them.
We hope you will be able to join us on Thursday, June 27, at the Young at Heart Ministries, located at 101 West First. The meeting starts a 10 a.m. and we will be looking for you.
Doris welcomes your comments and can be reached at [email protected]