My son has been in jail every week, once a week, for five years. Our younger son is one of the smartest and yet most humble people I know. He is a tenured professor at Indiana University, Dr. Markus Dickinson Ph.D (computational linguistics). But he chooses to spend time in the Monroe County Jail every week in the AIR Unit (Addicts in Recovery). Markus works with men to help them with that difficult transition back into the community.
Here is what our son says about jail life: “Rarely have I experienced the sense of acceptance that I experience when I go to the jail. My criminal record consists of a single speeding ticket and yet when I sit with twelve inmates, I belong. Amongst these broken men, I am accepted for who I am.” And they talk with him, ask questions of him, joke with him “all with an air of love and welcome. I belong.”
Our son has concluded that people in jail are real people. “People who worry about their kids; people who debate Scrabble words; people who have opinions about politics, basketball, sandwiches; people who need love – and people who show love.” Opening ourselves up to the “broken people” of the world allows us to come to terms with our own brokenness and accept people as they are.
And I love that my son says this: “Hey, maybe people who are incarcerated are just that: people. As the writer of Hebrews says – in a verse that changed my life- “Remember those in prison as if you yourself were in prison.””
The organization that Markus volunteers for is called New Leaf-New Life (Bloomington, Indiana). He has seen that “everyone is worthy of a second chance.” He further says: “…I’d appreciate prayers for the group and for the people re-entering society. It’s not a Christian organization, but I’m a Christian in the organization, so prayers are welcome!” I am proud of the Jesus in Markus that sits with those in prison each week.
With 2016 right around the calendar’s corner, thinking about turning over a new leaf and having new life is totally timely!