Off the heels of a very controversial election year, countless hate crimes and shootings, it is important that we "allow suffering to speak". A Light has Dawned, our current learning series, allows for suffering to speak on several dark and uncomfortable truths in our society as we look to the gospel for hope and practical ways to engage well.
Taina Ramos, Women's Ministry leader, shares thoughts and reflections on Pastor Kenny's sermon on Mass Incarceration.
Mass incarceration has been a topic that most black and brown people are all too familiar with. Whether you've been convicted of a crime, a family member or a friend of a friend, it is an experience that causes and carries deep wounds. Michelle Alexander says it so well in a quote that Pastor Kenny shared with us on Sunday. "People are stripped of basic human and civil rights". We (the USA) make up 5% of the world's population yet the US makes up 25% of the world's prison population. We (USA) have over 2 million people in jail in our country. "Slavery has not ended, it's been redefined" - Pastor Kenny Hart.
The wounds that mass incarceration causes affect more than just the prisoner. There are families that have been ripped apart and broken. I firmly believe that God is bringing to light where the church has failed. He is giving us an opportunity to be the church Pastor Kenny spoke about in this sermon. A church that does not shun the broken but that restores them. We have to get over the discomfort of having people whose stories are different than ours in this community. We must display a Christianity that builds beautiful things out of what society has thrown away. We must commit to walking through the process of healing, not only for the prisoner but also for the child that has lost their father or mother to the injustices of mass incarceration.
This sermon brought up feelings that I never knew existed. I am a product of this very injustice; I have countless family members in and out of jail. The argument is not whether they deserve it or not, it's what do we do as the church to love them through it? What do we do with the child that can only see their mother or father through a glass window or TV screen? How do we fight to break the cycle of committing crimes that land them in jail/prison? These are all questions that I will be praying through and acting on however the Lord sees fit.