Recently, we received a donation from the Missouri Department of Corrections — but the State of Missouri was not the donor; a prisoner was. That’s right, incarcerated men and women, who often earn just a few cents per hour, donate to OCPM. And those who earn no money often donate their stamps to OCPM so that we can write and send materials to other prisoners.
Think about that. An individual who may have committed a heinous crime has somehow learned to develop empathy for another human being. They have learned to think about what they can give to others. Now that is real transformation and a cause for gratitude and thanksgiving.
They are individuals like Chris, a former prisoner, who recently decided to designate Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry as the beneficiary of his pension. “Because of what OCPM has meant to me, the least I could do is to give back some of what is the extent of my worldly possessions in the hope, trust and knowledge it will be used by His Church to help others as it has helped me,” says Chris.
While he was in prison, Chris was introduced to the Orthodox faith by OCPM and, he says, to a relationship with God that he had never experienced before. When he was paroled last year, OCPM helped him connect with a local Orthodox parish. Chris is now working a basic blue collar job and renting a modest apartment. He was excited to have his first meeting with an Orthodox priest, to attend the Divine Liturgy, and to prepare for Holy Chrismation.
Chris is a powerful example of what love, repentance, and the Orthodox faith can produce in a heart that is ready. And I am very moved by his decision to give so that other prisoners can benefit too.