Most of you have never stepped foot in a jail or prison. For me, it has been a 50 year weekly journey to State jails, prisons and juvenile detention centers. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t choose this, I was called to do it. Jesus said, “I was in prison and you came to me” (Mt. 25.36b). This was the compelling verse in my early 30s. I said, yes, and one week later a couple invited me to teach the scriptures at a local prison. God has done the rest. As with all volunteers, we get to hear the door slam behind us. Hard to imagine incarceration. Especially as a husband and dad. Lean in to Joshua’s story shared in a letter to me.
“Mr. Bill Dotson, How are you doing? My name is Joshua. I am currently incarcerated in TDCJ. I was informed of your corporation with Abiding Fathers supposedly due to the fact that I am a father. Ya know, it’s hard being a father who is locked up for the most precious years of your child’s life. My son is 17 years old now and I have only been around him for about six years of the 17. It’s sad knowing that and also that right now, I can’t do nothing about it. But, once I am released, there is a lot that I can do to change the future for the both of us as a family. I am writing you today to inquire about any programs or resources you may know about that can help better the relationship that was lost due to my incarceration between me and my son. I would greatly appreciate any feedback you or your staff may have through correspondence. Thank you so much for your considerate time.”
I have heard countless stories like Joshua’s. They are real and they all hurt. Jesus knows this better than anyone. Sometimes when I leave the prison, I wonder if anything was accomplished in the men’s lives, and mine. Jesus never fails to immediately remind me; the command was to ‘visit him’. It is his power that impacts these men. He went on to say in Matthew—he was hungry, thirsty, a stranger and sick. Then his disciples asked, ‘when did we see you this way and care for you?’ His answer says it all!
‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’ (vs. 40b).
Jesus knew Joshua would be in prison before the foundation of the world. He came to earth and went to the cross for the Joshua’s all across the earth. Abiding Fathers is dedicated to taking the good news to the prisons. Right now, there are numerous in Texas, beginning in Oklahoma, Cuba, Rwanda, Dominican Republic, and Orange Co., Fla. To those of you who are partnering with and sending us, consider yourself as a vital part of Jesus’ commission.
And finally, our Facilitators are seeing God do amazing things in the lives of these incarcerated men through specific prayers with them. He is uniting fathers and children after years of alienation and separation. Forgiving each other, revisiting them after many years and giving them hope. Joshua thanks you and most of all, so does Jesus. A renowned pastor once said, ‘You have three choices—“Go, send or repent!”’