Category Archives: LITERATURE
‘How hard it can be to forgive!’
PAMLICO COUNTY DETENTION CENTER — I wanted to submit a Commentary since a lot of inmates read your newspaper. Pleases do not identify me as the author, so as not to make my name public.
I’d like to thank you for the past articles on Patrick A. Bucksot’s book “The Weapons of our Warfare: God’s Arsenal for Victorious Living.” I saw the past articles on it, but as an inmate here at the Pamlico County Detention Center, I thought I’d never get to read it. After a blessing (and a Christian officer), I was able to get a chance to read it, and wish to share a bit of the book with others.
There is a chapter in Mr. Bucksot’s book on forgiveness, which he covers very well. The whole book is well done and written, and the chapters line up with the Word of God. I wanted to just pull one segment out to share, and how it applies to everyone – from leaders of the church to inmates in jails and prisons. Forgiveness is a tremendous act of faith. Let me share an example, and use Mr. Bucksot’s wonderful book to illustrate.
I’ve been in Pamlico Jail since mid-February of 2012. Over these past months, I sent out mail to churches and ministries all over. If I get an address for a church or ministry, I’m writing to them for prayer or, if possible, any support. Jails need prayer and Christian materials to encourage inmates. Yet, in these six months, I’ve written to at least 50 churches in and around this area – only two responded.
Several came back “Return to Sender” but of the two that I received, one was a very inspirational letter from Rio Grand Church in New Bern. Unfortunately, the other was a very depressing letter from a church in Oriental.
The latter letter said nothing godly, or edifying. I wrote requesting prayer and support, yet the letter they sent me (which I still have) said three things: 1) We don’t send money to inmates. 2) Go back to the church you came from. And, 3) if you don’t have a church, talk to the chaplain of the jail you’re in.
They (the church in Oriental) summed up their letter to me by saying that after I do my time, I should return to society and act right. Is this how they treat people? I was stunned and wrote back, kindly debating that they have a very distorted view of my letter, and that I was poorly thought of by the “church.”
I also said that I would do for them what they apparently would not do for me: Pray for them.
If the first letter was bitter and unrepresentative of a Christ-like manner, a second that I received from the same church was worse. I was surprised (and temporarily angered) at the ungodly tone of the letter. One of the other inmates read it and was discouraged at how this church reacts to those needing prayer.
I share this story to bring in our responsibility to forgive. I won’t lie to you, I was upset at this church brow-beating me down to a slug, then calling me a liar when I said the Detention Center does not have a chaplain. I ought to know – I am here in the jail.
But, this is the time to forgive. To quote Mr. Bucksot: “Forgiveness is the one thing we do that mirrors who God is, more so than anything else that we can do.” Mr. Bucksot adds that it encompasses the act of love, it requires faith, it’s an act of worship, and it requires humility to perform. How hard it can be to forgive!
None of us are perfect, whether you’ve ever been arrested before, or if you’ve been in and out of jail. So we all need to practice and receive forgiveness. I feel that the church in Oriental bore ill feelings to me as an inmate, and they felt I was trying to con them out of something. It hurt my feelings to be treated so unfairly by the church, but when we feel wronged, we must forgive. We must! It’s not an option, if we claim to be Christians.
Mr. Bucksot says in his book, “We are ambassadors for Christ. Can we say we love Him and withhold forgiveness?” He paints a very good picture of what forgiveness means, and how it indeed is a formidable weapon to the believer!
Editor’s note: The author is an inmate in the Pamlico County Jail who has asked not to be identified.