“You want me to work with criminals?”

American Idol judges and the audience learn that appearances can be deceiving.

I actually thought I was going to become a lawyer, but God had a different plan. I loved to debate in school.  In a Grade 8 History game playing the role of a member of parliament from the Northwest Territories of Canada with only two seats I got the most money for projects. Okay, so it was really based on the I’m going to keep talking until you give me money method. The truth be told I think they gave me the money so I would not go into a 20 minute history lesson decrying how little help northern Canada gets. But that’s another story.

I would get bonus marks in Grade 12 English for being able to prepare impromptu debates in under five minutes. My grandmother said I was gifted by the Lord in forming arguments, in stating my position on a given issue.

After high school I needed work experience. I applied to 13 different government ministries for a government-subsidized job experience program. I was sure I read the Lord right that I would work for the attorney general’s office in a clerical role and work my way into law school.  I thought my Lord was leading me into a career as a lawyer involved in family law cases. God closed that door and all the others except one.  God’s clear direction came.  Kevin, I want you to work as a counselor trainee for The Salvation Army under the auspices of the Ontario Ministry of Corrections.

Uh um, God, You’ve got to be kidding! I’d be working with people who are criminals. They have broken the law and some of them have hurt people real bad. Anything but that, Lord.

I went to my interview on a Friday bound and determined I would say I was too frightened to work with criminals. I was prepared to mess up my interview royally. No way was I going to risk my physical safety working with criminals.

It was the weirdest job interview I have ever gone to. The Director of the halfway house called Bunton Lodge started the interview. “Kevin, do you like butterscotch tarts? I just got back from Knob Hill Farms with them. What’s your favourite sports team? What do you like to do in your free time?”

Heh! This is not how I was taught a job interview was supposed to go. Funny. Hmmm. I never anticipated that question in all the books I read on job interview preparation. Heh, book author. You didn’t include that crucial job interview question, “Do you like butterscotch tarts?” I want my money back now!:D

Then, the interview question came I was convinced I would blow. “How do you feel about working with people who have broken the law?” This was my golden opportunity to ruin my chance of being hired. “I don’t have experience with this, but I’m more than willing to learn.” Okay. Who got a hold of my tongue? I didn’t say that! Oh, my goodness. I did say that!

The Director smiled approvingly. “I’d like you to start Monday.” There was a long pause before responding. I was recovering from the shock of what I said. I responded with timidity and surprise. “Okay. I’ll see you Monday.” I shook his hand and then left. After finally being outside and taking a deep breath in and exhaling my first thought was this. What the heck did I get myself into?

I was only supposed to be at Bunton Lodge three months, but ended up being there three years! This would begin God’s journey of discovery for me that these men who broke the law were in desperate need of God’s love. They were human-beings who said or did the wrong thing or got in with the wrong crowd. They were crying out to be loved, to be valued.

God taught me that I needed an attitude adjustment. I was no better than any of them. I am a sinner saved by grace. I could have made one wrong decision like them that would have landed me in jail or in a half way house. The Bible is clear on the point that none of us are righteous(Romans 3:10).We are all deserving of judgement, of hell itself, but God loves us too much to leave us without hope. He sent His one and only Son to die for ME,  YOU and all of us.

I could say this message is meant for others, and no doubt it is. Yet, I feel God has been speaking to my own heart through it to show me how far He has been leading me and all the lessons He has taught me about loving all people.

If God should call you to work with people whom society deems to be the worst of the worst, the dregs of humanity, reflect upon the prejudicial attitudes I wrote about. I thank God He loved me enough not to leave me judging and labelling these people as criminals.

For those who would criticize and say that people who have broken the law are scum, I share with you that I knew a man who was regarded as one of the toughest gang members. He had multiple run ins with the law. Then, the Lord put a stubborn Christian in his pathway who refused to give up on him. Week after week he would visit this man. The gang member would call him every foul name you could think of. The gang member even accused this faithful man that he was simply doing his feel good deed.

Eventually, the gang member’s resistance was broken. He accepted Christ and went on to graduate high school in his mid twenties with top honours. And guess what? The new babe in Christ went on to become a minister.

A story like that should teach us that God doesn’t make junk. We are not the labels so many like to give us. We all blow it. We all get it wrong, but God in His awesome love for us forgives us and calls us into His tender and compassionate arms of love to be embraced, valued and accepted.

Can we do anything less than that faithful man who was a witness of Christ’s love for the gang member who became a minister?

http://www.osborne2029.wordpress.com

Advertisements

About osborne2029

I enjoy spending time with people just having a coffee or talking about life, philosophy, religion, politics or sharing a favorite joke or story. We learn from one another as we interact and share our joys, challenges and even our times of sadness. I enjoy reading, writing, singing and sharing in the blessing of community whether that is one on one or in groups. I'm married and am powned by two kitties named Sir William of Lounge a.k.a. Sir Lounge a Lot and Princess Catherine of Chaos a.k.a. Her Royal Highness Catherine of Englehart. I m in an M.A.-Ph.D program with St. James the Elder Theological Seminary to train to become a psychotherapist and priest. Let us pray for and reach out to each other with kindness, love and an embracing compassion. We can working together be servants with two open hands to those in need so that hate, indifference and inequality would lose and love will win. The peace and abounding joy of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Posted on January 7, 2014, in Devotion, On Christianity, On Circumstances, On Life's Purpose, On Loving Others, thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Like you, I also never thought I would one day become a counselor, much less one who would have a heart for those who were or had been in prison. It is through loving like Jesus and listening to God that I have come to understand just how important it is for criminals and others who have sinned to have someone to show them the love of Christ through action and in the flesh! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you for your insightful comments. Like me, you understand how important it is to show those who have broken the law that they are loved. Often, as you know many of the people you counsel come from an abusive childhood. I know because I have been transitioning from victim, to wounded healer and now victorious healer for the abuse I experienced from my schizo affective father.

      How did you end up becoming a minister?

      I’ve taken a thorough look at your pieces and your about section. Your insights shared with realism and a very light and easy communication style would be a blessing to many. Please prayerfully consider becoming a co-author on Mind’s Seat. It will give you an opportunity to share your thoughts about faith and how we can love others through the challenges they experience. Many would benefit greatly from your insightful writing.

      Should you decide that this is God’s next step in your journey with Him just make a comment under one of Marmar’s blog pieces. You submit your profile and a profile picture and you have become a co-author. I know I’m glad I made the decision to accept Marmar’s invitation. Here I am five months later still learning about the art of blogging. And I find even after many years as a writer, I’m always learning new aspects to this medium of communication.

      My wife, Karen, is encouraging me to branch out into fiction writing and not just have journalism pieces. I’m glad she gave me that loving gentle push because I find that journalism is what I have been trained in and can do well, but Christian fiction writing gives me far more flexibility to be creative in dealing with individual and societal issues.

      Please seriously think about joining Marmar and all of us as a co-author. We need people like you and so do the many people who would be commenting on your pieces.

      Just tell Marmar I sent you.

      May the Lord give you and your family His richest blessings in 2014!

      Kevin

      • Becoming a minister was seriously a God thing. If you would have asked me would I ever had become a pastor, I would have given you an emphatic “no.” As I was lead to help prisoners, I also felt that nudge to totally devote my life to His will and accept the call to ministry. It has truly been a journey!

        Thanks so much for reading and considering my work in terms of being a co-author. I will certainly pray about this. I have had so many people tell me how my writing has helped them, and that truly is the purpose for what I do-so others know they are not alone.

        I’ll tell Marmar you sent me! Blessings to you.

  2. thanks for being so forthright; i know how difficult it is to have your heart set on doing something and God says “no my child” and you fight until you realize you are the one getting the black and blue marks on your body. lol. He won.

  3. Praise God He did win! The Lord helped me see what I flawed and unjust legal system I would have been working in. There’s something seriously wrong with a legal system that allows loop holes for people to evade responsibility for their actions. I saw as both a pastor and a counsellor that there is a coldness and aloofness to the legal system. We need more lawyers and judges with compassion and with the inner strength of character to hold people accountable for their wrongful actions.

    It is as I am finally healing from the abuse of my schizo affective father and all the people who falsely judged me that I am seeing more and more that it was God’s plan all along to be a healer of wounded souls.

    My wife, Karen, says to me, “Darling, while you would have been a very good lawyer the injustices in the lives of your clients combined with the injustice of the legal system would have made you sick, and then killed you.”

    I commend those in the legal profession who are shining advocates for their clients. A lawyer who isn’t in burnout and is dedicated to help their clients can make a positive difference in the lives of their clients. They will see that the lawyer truly cares. They will see that the lawyer has not sold their soul for money and power.

    God knew where I would be of the greatest use for the Kingdom. After all He is the best counsellor of all.

    Have a blessing-filled 2014!

    Kevin

Share your thoughts on this post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: