One of the most striking things I’ve learned about Jesus is how he could see the “invisible people”. Story after story in the Bible tells us how Jesus saw all people. A favorite for me is the healing of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19). No matter their previous stations in life, lepers became invisible. It was a death sentence with no cure. Jesus, however, saw them. As followers of Christ, who do we see? Are we able to see all people?
Several months ago, a friend recommended I should watch the movie “Just Mercy”. I put the name of the movie into my phone so I wouldn’t forget. This was the first time I heard of this movie. Sunday evening, I saw a post on Facebook saying “Just Mercy” could be watched for free during the month of June on several different platforms. Instead of writing this article like I planned, my wife and I watched the movie for free on Amazon. If you haven’t seen this movie, I encourage you to watch it!
This movie came up in my initial conversion because we were talking about the challenge of negotiating our legal system. My extended family is currently caught up in a legal fight for Bobby, my cousin who is in prison. It is commendable in our country a lawyer will be provided if a person cannot afford legal representation. This was the case for Bobby. I’m convinced, though, a person is at a disadvantage if they cannot afford private legal representation. Once a person goes to prison, they become invisible. It’s hard to find a lawyer to take a case like this who is affordable. We now have a very good lawyer working our case. There is hope. We appreciate, though, anyone willing to pray for Bobby!
Through our case, I have been introduced to Prisoner Connections, LLC. (prisonerconnections.us). Mr. Ronald Baker, the President and CEO of Prisoner Connections, LLC, is one of those people I’ve come to greatly admire. I’m hoping to someday meet him in person. Prisoner Connections, LLC, offers paralegal support in Florida at a reasonable cost, and connects prisoners to extremely good lawyers. Here is what their website says about Mr. Baker: “Mr. Baker was incarcerated in Florida for over 25 years. During his journey, he became impassioned with the law, became a law clerk, obtained a paralegal degree and assisted hundreds of prisoners to get out of prison, get new trials and reduce their sentences. With 26 years of criminal post-conviction and appellate litigation experience, and over 60 published decisions to his credit, he was released in 2013 with the goal to form a company designed to connect the prison population in Florida to competent, affordable legal representation. That goal has now been accomplished.” Recently Mr. Baker also started seminary with the hopes of becoming an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church of America. In his own words, he is doing this “so that I can gain admittance to the prisons and carry out the Great Commission ‘inside’”. Jesus continued to see Mr. Baker when he was “invisible”, and now Mr. Baker is ministering to those who our society tries not to see.
There are so many people throughout our society who are “invisible” and not being seen or heard. If we are wondering where the anger is coming from in our country, this is one of the places. It is not outrageous in the United States of America to demand equality. This is one of the foundational tenets of our country. It shouldn’t just be aspirational! If I lose my voice, I’m hopeful there are people who will speak up for me. I haven’t lost my voice. Who am I willing to speak up for? Do you have a voice? How much easier is it to be heard if we join our voices together?
I’ve always wondered what would have happened if one person had spoken up to support Jesus when Pilate said “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews (Mark 15:12)?” If one person had started shouting “let him go!”, could the world’s greatest injustice have been avoided? Instead, the voices shouted, “crucify him”. When Pilate asked “Why, what evil has he done?”, the cries to crucify Jesus just got louder (Mark 15:14). When Jesus was arrested, were the authorities hoping he would become “invisible”?
Alone, we might not be able to change our society. What if, though, we all find at least one cause—or one person—to speak up for? In a time like this, I think it could become a sin to stay quiet.
Your brother on the journey, Mark
Further thoughts: I have two weeks left as the South District Superintendent (I might not be the only one counting!). Although I’m now in my fourth decade using the title “Mark’s Musings”, I have written far more often since I became a D.S. Not preaching every week, this became my way to share my voice. Since I started as the South D.S., I’ve written 116 “Mark’s Musings”. I’m curious what the last two (in this role) will have to say!