Just like the lawyer from Luke 10, I want to ask: Who is our neighbor? Merriam-Webster defines neighbor as “a person who lives near another.” Yet, it does not define the word nearby. Within five miles near me, there is a county jailhouse, and within 50 miles near me, there is a state prison. Are the men and women locked up in those places considered my neighbors?

I ask this as last week, we ushered in the Lenten season with the celebration of Ash Wednesday. Billy Graham defines Lent: “As one of the oldest observations in Christendom, Lenten tradition has changed over the years, but its purpose has always been the same: self-examination and penitence, demonstrated by self-denial, in preparation for Easter.” I like the words of Alexander Schmemann, author of the Great Lent, who describes Lent as “A spiritual journey whose destination is Easter, the feast of feasts. It is the preparation for the ‘fulfillment of Pascha, the true revelation.’” We know from Matthew 4:17 that repentance is the beginning and the condition of a truly Christian life. But what is repentance, and how does it translate into the ministry of the incarcerated?

If there were ever a time to address this question, it certainly would be this current time we are in. As Schmemann says, “There must be a reason why the church has set apart seven weeks as a special time of repentance and why she calls us to a long and sustained spiritual effort.”

Friends, we are in a unique time of year where we fully come face to face with our own convictions and the grace that has been afforded us. But in this Lenten season, we are wise to understand that this grace provided to us is able to cover our sins, no matter how big they appear to be. Remember what it says in Romans 5:20: “Where sinned increased, grace abounded all the more.” Too often, the church forgets that this grace applies to the incarcerated as well.

That is why we are so thankful for you. Your prayers, ministry, and financial support reflect a recognition of who our neighbors are and a knowledge of how big God’s grace is. In all our communities, we have neighbors that need to not only hear about grace but experience this grace from the local church. This Lenten season provides a great opportunity for us to share the message of the ministry of Lifeline Global Ministries.

In His Name,

Dr. Romney Ruder

Lifeline Global President

Man leaning over on a desk in prayer