Monday, July 13, 2009

Listening in Prison

I go to prison in Hong Kong
once a month for Bible study & small group discussion with a group of English speaking inmates. Our small group includes guys (the inmates are all men) from Australia, Africa, and South America as well as one or two from Asia, so even in prison we have an amazingly intercultural experience.

This week the topic was "holy promptings" and I made the mistake of asking if people had ever had a holy prompting through a dream, which led Kenny, one of the Australians, to launch into a loooong complicated & detailed account of a dream he had had recently. I felt rather impatient with Kenny, and looked around for signs from the others to cut him off. But nobody intervened, everyone listened politely, Africans, South Americans, Australians, Asians alike.

Then I remembered what we had been told during our prison ministry training: Many of these guys have no one to talk with, no one to listen to them, no one to pay attention to them as an individual. What's more important, getting through a "lesson plan" or allowing this guy, for yes probably all of 7 or 8 minutes, to tell his story, of his dream? And then I thought about how the God of the universe loves Kenny so much, and loves me too, that he sent his Son to spend his whole life on us.

I'm not sure if Kenny hears from God through his dreams, but I do know that I got to hear from God by watching how all these "hardened criminals" from four different continents gave Kenny their undivided attention.

1:15-16 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all his people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. (Paul, writing from prison, Ephesians, chapter 1)

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