This letter, written by Campus Pastor Rev. Steve Smith, first appeared in the spring 2018 issue of the Concordian, the official magazine of Concordia University Wisconsin.
“Let brotherly love continue … remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them ….” (Hebrews 13:1, 3a)
One of my favorite movies is “The Shawshank Redemption.” More than 20 years old now, this well-known movie tells the story of two prisoners who befriend each other in the Shawshank Prison in Maine in the 1940s to the 1960s. Red, played by Morgan Freeman, has reconciled himself to a life in prison and, like many other prisoners, has given up hope. Andy, however, still holds out hope of being freed from prison—that there can be a Shawshank redemption.
He speaks of this hope to Red, and Red responds, “Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It’s got no use on the inside.”
That “dangerous” hope is something that’s central to our campus ministry prison ministry. Several dozen Concordia students are “pen pals” with inmates in prison. Prison ministry gives students a chance to share faith and hope with those who may have little hope. There’s a long story and history to how this was started some years back (too long for this little article), but it has its roots in a connection between a now sainted CUW staff member and a former high school student who found himself in prison.
In our ministry, we have safeguards of anonymity and pseudonyms as the students write. Within that framework, students have the chance to share faith and encouragement with those who so much need it.
It’s pretty uncommon. First of all, writing letters the old-fashioned way. Then writing to someone, perhaps their own young age, whose life is very different from their own. Someone who’s made some terrible decisions and is paying a great price. But it’s a chance to share the love of the Savior who paid the ultimate price for all of our sins–the innocent who died for all of the guilty. They write of forgiveness and eternal life and freedom from the prison of sin which holds us all. It’s just another opportunity for our students to live uncommon.
—Rev. Steve Smith, campus pastor
The spring Concordian hit mailboxes the week of April 23. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, call 734-995-7317.
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