Tuesday, January 11, 2011
THANKSGIVING AT COOK COUNTY JAIL
A Day of Thanksgiving
While most people started Thanksgiving Day in anticipation of a family gathering, Mike Calia was on his way to the Cook County Jail. Although he isn’t new to serving at Willow Creek, this was his first opportunity to serve with the prison/jail ministry. As he worked alongside 31 other volunteers, his perspective changed in a way that he didn’t see coming.
Hearts of Compassion
On Thanksgiving morning, the inmates of Cook County Jail walked single file in groups of 50-75 into the multipurpose room. Mike’s job was to serve the food and give a smile to each of the inmates as they passed through the line.
Before Jim, a co-leader in the Monday night Bible study at the jail, gave a short greeting, he asked how many of the men attended the weekly Bible study. Mike was surprised at the number of hands that went up. God is truly doing life-transformational work within the walls of the jail.
A particularly moving moment occurred after one of the inmates led the group in a very passionate prayer. "An inmate started singing 'Amazing Grace' and of course, we all joined in," says Mike. "I cannot even describe the feelings I had while singing that song 'a cappella' along with 80 or so other people, most of them male and almost three-quarters of them inmates."
"In my opinion, the most amazing thing happened when Jim mentioned that this was the third year that Willow’s prison ministry was serving a Thanksgiving meal at this prison and this would not be possible without the prison guards’ cooperation," mentioned Mike. Without a suggestion of any kind from any of the volunteers, the inmates actually started applauding. Mike left Cook County Jail that day feeling God’s grace in a new way.
2010 was the third year Willow Creek has harnessed volunteer power to serve Thanksgiving dinner at the Cook County Jail. There is a tremendous need for volunteers (especially men) to serve on an ongoing basis with this vibrant, life—changing ministry. If you feel God nudging you to be a part of the prison/jail ministry, contact Gaius at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more blog articles regarding the Prison and Jail Ministry, http://wccc.blogs.com/compassion_and_justice/