By: Scott Colburn
I recently got the annual e-mail from the chaplain of the Beaver County Jail. Every year at this time, he informs those of us who volunteer there that the training dates are coming soon. Uncommon Grounds has had a Sunday night Bible Study at the jail for 8 years now.
I never wanted to teach a Bible Study at jail. I felt a little nervous about going into a jail, and a lot awkward at talking to people who didn't share my suburban, educated, middle-class perspective. Shouldn't I just mind my own business and let other people deal with their own situations and the consequences of whatever they have done? But I felt God call me to join with others at the jail to teach and share ourselves. I'm glad I did, and years later I can't imagine not having inmates as part of my Christian community.
This isn't to romanticize things. We've seen a lot of inmates seem to “get it” and then we see them back in jail within months. Sometimes they don't seem to learn a whole lot from the lessons, and when I've been two weeks in a row they barely remember what we covered the last week. But they are hungry for change, hungry for a power in their lives greater than chaos, ignorance, or addiction. We have the chance to make disciples, not just church members.
As I said, the training dates are coming up in March and April. It's a two hour training, mostly for gathering information and doing background checks. We could use a few more guys and gals who love the Lord and want to love His estranged children. Pray about it and see if God may be calling you. Doesn't matter if you aren't a Bible scholar, or don't know what to say to an inmate, or think people in jail got what they deserved. If you believe in making disciples, this may be the place for you. Contact me, Scott Colburn, through the cafe and I'll get you the information on signing up. This past summer, I was sitting on my front porch when someone called my name. It was a guy from the study riding by in a car. He'd just gotten out, and he was excited to see me. We caught up for a moment and then he was on his way. I haven't seen him since, but I haven't seen him back at the jail either. Wherever he is, he became free through the Gospel, even when he was still in jail. He has a future, the same one that all of us believers have.