Next Thursday I will head back into Angola for another Kairos weekend. This time we are headed into Camp J for the first time. This is a disciplinary camp where inmates are placed who are considered to be a security risk either to themselves or others. When a prisoner comes to the Angola for the first time they are likely to be housed at Camp J until the prison officials can get a good idea about what kind of risks they pose. If a prisoner at any camp, violates the rules, he is likely to be sent to J. Camp J is not a pleasant place. Those assigned there for disciplinary reasons are in lock down most of the day. Their food is fashioned into untasty loaves. The lock downs are cold in winter and hot in summer. Lock down is miserably lonely.
We will not be ministering to those in lock down. Rather we will serve the small community of inmates who help run Camp J by serving as orderlies, on clean up crews or in administrative positions. There is no chapel at J and few diversions for this group and the chaplain has had on his heart for some time to bless them with a Kairos weekend. So here we are.
When you are at Camp J you get a real sense of evil. Since almost all of the general population at Angola is under a life sentence, it is truly the worst of the worst who find themselves locked down at Camp J. There is evil in the world.
It seems that we have somehow been dulled to the reality of evil. Television and movies present evil that can be defeated in the course of a 60 minute program or a two hour movie. Consider your favorite programs. How many of the characters are involved in sin. You remember sin? that evil that Jesus came to deal with. Nearly every program features at least a couple of characters who live together unmarried or who survive through crime and by hurting others.
People often ask how can I possibly enjoy ministering to the incarcerated. These folks don’t understand that a resident of Angola doesn’t need to be convicted of sin. The State of Louisiana has already done that. On the outside the greatest difficulty in presenting the gospel is convincing folk that they are sinners. This is not a problem in prisons.
Please pray for us as we head into Angola this week. Pray that the inmates we serve will be receptive to the love of Jesus we will present. While you are on your knees pray for those you know who need Jesus, but first need to know that sin is real and they are sinners. It’s not a easy lesson to learn these days but it’s vital to a spiritual life.