Do You See What I See? Potential, Life, and Hunger of the Incarcerated
Garbage. Bad. Forgotten.
These words are often used to describe inmates. But do you know what I saw when I entered Walton Correctional Institution? Potential. Life. Hunger.
As the Global Leadership Network Field Team Coordinator, part of my role is to expand The Global Leadership Summit (GLS) Prison Program throughout prison facilities in the United States. Therefore, I may see inmates in a way that seems different to most. These offenders knew they had made poor choices, but they sought to redeem themselves and re-enter into society as better men.
The common thread: No one had ever told them they were valuable.
As I began to hear some of the heart-breaking stories of neglected childhoods and unbearable foster homes, I saw a common thread among the men: no one had ever told them they were valuable. They were never raised to be something great; there was little love or support in their home growing up. As a child, that element of care and safety is vital for development. These survivors did not have that—and that is exactly what they became: SURVIVORS.
I saw a common thread among the men: no one had ever told them they were valuable.
Can you imagine a childhood where you spent your waking moments worried about your safety or how to get your next meal? While your peers are learning their ABCs, you are fighting hunger pains or praying that your parents will come home tonight. Sometimes, before the crime, there is a story of neglect, abuse or gang induction. Habits and skills that come naturally to many of the people you rub shoulders with everyday are things some adolescents don’t have the luxury to learn.
I feel called to wage a war.
I feel called to wage a war against the type of environment swallowing our youth. We must bring training and value to this important demographic that may never experience these things due to the family or geography of where they were born. How do we fight this battle? Streaming the Global Leadership Summit into prisons. The Summit empowers inmates to be more than they ever thought they could be—more than they were ever told they could be.
The Summit empowers inmates to be more than they ever thought they could be—more than they were ever told they could be.
It is life changing.
I stood in the Walton CI chapel and listened to inmate after inmate tell me how the GLS has changed their lives. Some realized they were valuable for the first time, some re-kindled their relationship with God, some even caught a Grander Vision for their lives and have begun making business plans for when they are released.
I’ve seen with my very own eyes the power of telling this dismissed demographic that they matter. When the release date does come to fruition, these changed men will go back to their homes and neighborhoods with a refreshed mindset. They can reach places the church may never be able to get to. Generational abuse and neglect cycles can be broken.
It’s our mandate, as Christians, to see through the eyes of God and see inmates as He sees them. Every human being is a valuable creation with potential and purpose.
So, I challenge you, reader, do you need to get your vision checked?