Imagine interviewing for your dream job and getting the offer – until they run a background check and determine you have a past criminal record.
Even though you’ve paid your debt to society, and possibly even served time in prison, the stigma of your past still haunts you.
Sadly, this happens all too frequently to ex-prisoners due to unfair restrictions placed upon them after they’ve been set free.
The National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction documents that more than 44,000 legal collateral consequences and barriers exist for those who have served time and are trying to get on with their lives, reports Prison Fellowship.
Even though 1 out of every 2 Americans has a loved one that was – or is in – prison, society still shuns those with a criminal past, even if they’ve completely turned their life around.
Instead of being able to get a decent job and live out their newfound freedom, these former prisoners are often denied opportunities because employers refuse to hire them.
But as Christians, we know God loved us at our darkest moments – and He is the King of second chances.
And living out His command to not forget those in prison, Prison Fellowship is the nation’s largest non-profit organization and works to restore the criminal justice system by helping prisoners and their families.
For the month of April, they’ve teamed up with Christian rapper Lecrae to bring awareness to the issue and hopefully change the stigma many prisoners face once released.
For Lecrae, he wants every prisoner to know that nothing they’ve done is too far from the redemption and healing grace of God.
The Christian Post reported:
“As a believer, I think we get the biggest second chance of all, in that we’ve fallen short of God’s glory, and He gives us an opportunity to live up to the expectation that we were created for,” Lecrae said.
“That’s a big thing for me. I don’t feel like there’s anything I’ve ever done that can make God throw me away. So I don’t want any person who’s committed any crime to feel like they’ve been thrown away.”
In fact, to encourage others to churches around the country celebrated “Second Chance Sunday” – an opportunity to pause and remember those imprisoned.”
It can be tempting to look down on those who have served time – when it really could have been any one of us – especially those who didn’t accept Christ until later in life and lived their early adult years recklessly.
Sadly, many prisoners live with deep shame and regret believing their past has ruined their future.
This is why it’s so important for them to internalize God’s love and fully understand at the deepest level that their worth comes from Him.
God has promised when we repent for our sins, He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
While there may still be consequences for our actions, the Lord has promised to never leave or forsake us.
Thankfully organizations like Prison Fellowship exist to stand in the gap and raise awareness while providing tangible help.
For more than 40 years, Prison Fellowship has helped restore the lives of prisoners and integrate them back into the community.
If you’d like to learn more about Prison Fellowship and support their work, you can do so here.
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