Evening of Thanksgiving
David (my husband) is a teacher. He is one of several teachers in the Life Learning Program for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. The Cook County Detention Center is the largest maximum jail in the country, taking up 96 acres in the city of Chicago. Two times a week a stamped ID gains him passage through guarded, thick steel bars. He follows the corridor to Deck 1A. It is 26 individual cells bordering a warehouse of wall to wall concrete. In the center of this chamber, round tables securely attach to their chairs and bolt to the floor. A toilet and shower stand in the open. Nothing inside here resembles liberty. Nothing within inspires hope. Only slivers of day make it through clouded windows. A couple thousand watts of man-made voltage swing from the rafters. But for a few hours a week, supernatural light enters this unforgotten dungeon by the lamp of God’s people.
Since the Life Learning Program entered this deck, the number of monthly recorded incidents between inmates has plummeted from 104…to just 4. The guards commission for a spot on this floor. Management began rotating officers onto this bedrock to relieve stress levels.
Ordinarily prisoners are free to roam within, but today is lock-down. No one is allowed out of their cell. “You can still teach if you want to,” the officer offers to David.
Entering a faceless room, he’s unsure how to proceed. In his loss for words, he begins singing a familiar gospel song. Walking up and down a deserted square, his single voice bounces off the walls. Through mail slot openings, eyes begin joining in the praise, fingers reach for a taste of hope that cannot be seen, cannot be touched, cannot be explained—only believed.
It is my sincere pleasure to invite you in. Please join me in attending Chicagoland Prison Outreach’s Virtual Banquet on Tuesday, April 28th at 7:00 pm. It’s 30 minutes you won’t want to miss. Just go to cpoministries.org, scroll to the bottom, click on the YouTube link and have a seat at our table. Thank you ahead of time for gathering with us. My love to you all!