I recently met with a young man who wanted to share a story of finding Christ in prison. Because of his sexuality, he had suffered an even deeper isolation than some other detainees—he was also ostracized by fellow prisoners. "The Christians were the ones who just accepted me as I was," he told me.
His story is one of so many I hear in our ministry.
Like our hard-won battle for a communion table, the search for Christ faces so many barriers in the places we do our ministry. In Advent, we await the coming of Christ. For the congregation of imprisoned immigrants and refugees that the Presbyterian Immigrant Ministry (PIM) out of Southern New England Presbytery serves, waiting is a way of life. In Plymouth County Correctional Facility and Suffolk County Jail, we wait for permission and the resources to celebrate Christ’s presence in communion that bring a depth of emotion to the moment when the elements can be blessed and received.
As it was for the disciples on the road to Emmaus, in the breaking of the bread, Christ is clearly seen by the people we serve.
PIM, one of the 1,001 Worshiping Communities and partially funded by the Synod’s Innovation Fund is a ministry of many love stories like this one. The stories of people who come and go, caught up in a system that ignores their humanity. PIM calls them into community with Christ, so that even as they move from detention centers to holding cells to prisons, they know that they are not alone.
Many immigrants come to this country to flee persecution. Many are in fear for their lives as well as their freedom and human rights. Then to find themselves incarcerated, facing deportation and possible relocation is a test of faith and endurance that many of us might fail.
To these, the discouraged, the fearful, the doubly oppressed, the Synod of the Northeast has supported PIM to bring back an answer from Christ. Bible Study and worship among this ever-changing congregation, and a witness to the burdens they are bearing, bring the reassurance that even John the Baptist sought. Indeed, Jesus Christ is doing the work among the poor and oppressed that the prophets foretold.
We hope to bring the hope, peace, joy, and love that is not available to those in prison. Where happiness is thwarted, joy may yet enter in when a person feels seen and a community is provided even in the midst of uncertainty and change. Would you join us with a contribution, even of $10, to support ministries like ours?
In the Love of Christ,
Presbyterian Immigrant Ministry, Cape Cod