Former RU Director Marvin Jackson began a new ministry that partners well with RU. Please read this note from the founder of Heirs of Restraint to understand the burden for the “forgotten” people in our jails and prisons:
I had been a Christian for over 20 years when I began working at our county jail. I had attended church, studied my Bible and prayed daily, and had faithfully served the Lord through my local church for over 12 years. My personal relationship with the Lord had been growing with increasing intensity for 1 ½ years immediately prior to beginning work as a corrections officer.
As I entered my new profession, I was basically unaware of the intense spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical demands that I would encounter. The corrections environment was completely new to me. Situations I had never before imagined were now being viewed and dealt with every time I went on duty with significant detrimental carry over into all aspects of my off-duty life. In the past, I had been taught to run or turn from the vile and obscene; the advice was don’t look, don’t listen, don’t participate. While this advice may be good in some scenarios, I did not find it helpful in my new job. I could not run or turn away from the scene; my duty was on the scene where I must see, hear, and participate.
The enormous pressures and stressors of corrections work began to expose my weaknesses. Before long, I noticed that I was distanced from my spouse and church family. I was not alone, but I felt alone. People did not know the struggle and turmoil that was going on inside as I began to faint, spiraling downward into depression and despair. Temptations that had long been put in the grave were now beginning to resurrect themselves in my thoughts as potential coping mechanisms. It was the Spirit of God and the Word of God that I clung to during these times. They became my sole source of support, strength, and endurance. By God’s grace and help I began to recover and flourish. I understood that according to Romans 13, this job was ordained by God so I knew that it was possible to perform it in such a manner that brings honor and glory to Jesus Christ.
God used this truth to develop a burden for other correctional officers. It is my desire to encourage correctional officers by putting them in remembrance of some things. God sees them. He knows their location. He is there. He knows if they are struggling and about to go down. They can turn to Him. There is hope and help in salvation through Jesus Christ and through the development of a personal relationship with Him as they grow in His grace, seeking Him for wisdom, guidance, and strength. The pressures of our work are not going to change for the better, but they do not have to in order for us to have our inward disposition determined and governed by Christ.
Those in authority need support. Even the strong grow weary. It is right for us to honor our authorities. Correctional officers face sights and scenes on a daily basis that most of us could never imagine. Even while a church service is enjoyed, they are on duty behind the wall hazarding their lives protecting us from those society fears. It is not the razor wire, steel doors, or bars that keep offenders inside the walls; it is the corrections officers who are on duty 24 hours 7 days a week. Although we may not understand, God understands everything about corrections work and the impact it has on the lives of these ministers of God for good.