Supporting Prisoners' Families

Recently, I’ve reflected on my trip to Rwanda, and my mind keeps going back to the perpetrators that participated in some of the most horrific crimes. As I’ve thought about them, I wondered about their families. I remember hearing a story of a young boy who was struggling in school. His grades were dropping, and he really had no friends – as a matter of fact, the other children avoided him. You see, his dad had brutally slaughtered his teacher’s family a year earlier in the genocide. The teacher, who didn’t want to take out her anger on the child, couldn’t help but be reminded of her dad’s death each time she looked upon this young man. All of his classmates knew that his dad was in prison for killing several people in their community. The other kids would often whisper and point at him throughout the day. The young boy withdrew further and further into isolation.

What did this boy do to deserve the ostracism? Not a thing. He was his father’s son. That’s it. This made me think about all the people today who are in prison and about their families. When someone is a victim of a crime, people are quick to offer support. What about when a family member is convicted of a crime? Is that support still there for his family?

Unfortunately, I admit that I've failed in this area. One of my best friends in the world has had a loved one in prison for a number of years now. It wasn't until recently that I really talked to her about what this was like for her. When she most needed my support, years ago when her brother was arrested, I avoided the topic like the plague. It wasn't that I didn't care. I just didn't know what to say so I didn't say anything. I had to ask her forgiveness -- I regret not being there for her when she needed me the most.

I know this is a heavy post, but it’s been heavy on my heart. I don’t want to treat anyone like a leper --- I want to love others as Jesus loved. I’m trying to flesh out how this looks in today’s world. What are your thoughts?

Tears to Joy: Supporting Prisoners' Families

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Supporting Prisoners' Families

Recently, I’ve reflected on my trip to Rwanda, and my mind keeps going back to the perpetrators that participated in some of the most horrific crimes. As I’ve thought about them, I wondered about their families. I remember hearing a story of a young boy who was struggling in school. His grades were dropping, and he really had no friends – as a matter of fact, the other children avoided him. You see, his dad had brutally slaughtered his teacher’s family a year earlier in the genocide. The teacher, who didn’t want to take out her anger on the child, couldn’t help but be reminded of her dad’s death each time she looked upon this young man. All of his classmates knew that his dad was in prison for killing several people in their community. The other kids would often whisper and point at him throughout the day. The young boy withdrew further and further into isolation.

What did this boy do to deserve the ostracism? Not a thing. He was his father’s son. That’s it. This made me think about all the people today who are in prison and about their families. When someone is a victim of a crime, people are quick to offer support. What about when a family member is convicted of a crime? Is that support still there for his family?

Unfortunately, I admit that I've failed in this area. One of my best friends in the world has had a loved one in prison for a number of years now. It wasn't until recently that I really talked to her about what this was like for her. When she most needed my support, years ago when her brother was arrested, I avoided the topic like the plague. It wasn't that I didn't care. I just didn't know what to say so I didn't say anything. I had to ask her forgiveness -- I regret not being there for her when she needed me the most.

I know this is a heavy post, but it’s been heavy on my heart. I don’t want to treat anyone like a leper --- I want to love others as Jesus loved. I’m trying to flesh out how this looks in today’s world. What are your thoughts?

1 Comments:

At December 8, 2011 at 9:32 PM , Anonymous Eric said...

Natalie, so I have a couple of thoughts. First go and read this amazing story and the links that go with it. http://jeremycowart.com/2011/11/voices-of-reconciliation/

Secondly, my brother was just convicted of murder this year and sentenced to prison. I don't want to seem callous, but for me I can't imagine what more people could do for us in our situation. Our church has been incredibly supportive and our closest friends have listened when we needed to talk and have cried with us when we cried. I'm not saying that it's been easy, because it hasn't, but it could be worse. I suspect for young children whose parents are in prison that the impact is more significant.
Blessings,
Eric

 

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