In Matthew 25 we learn that Jesus considers the incarcerated to be among “the least of these,” the group of people he encourages his disciples to focus their efforts on. It appears, however, due to our inclination to associate incarceration with "bad people" who deserve punishment, we don’t always consider their need for rehabilitation.
But with Jesus placing such emphasis on it, we must consider how the Body of Christ is supposed to play a role in assisting the incarcerated and what it means for Jesus to compel us to ‘visit the prisoner.’
Amidst our ministry in Tacloban City we have been working on a weekly basis to serve in an educational capacity in the Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (RRCY). The center houses boys ranging from 16-21 years of age whose crimes range from severe to petty.
The focus of our work thus far, facilitated largely by Clark Miller, has been to teach basic life skills. It began with an Anti-SAD (smoking, alcohol, drugs) campaign which led into seminars related to emotional stability, financial responsibility, physical health and hygiene, and basketball clinics.
We’ve also been able to teach an art class, do a songwriting and recording workshop, and facilitate creative writing activities.
We’ve been thankful to have this opportunity to invest into these young men and look forward to similar work amongst the incarcerated as we move into the future. The skills we teach them anticipate their return to their families and the opportunity to live full and productive lives.