It’s Not “Us and Them” It’s Just “Us”
Let’s do some myth-busting, shall we?
As the Prison and U.S. Ministries Programs Manager, I get to engage with social justice issues frequently in my role. In fact, in my conversations, I often hear people talk about the incarcerated or the homeless as if they are at a distance. Like they are this detached, far away people that need our help because they are “less than.” I don’t know how society has gotten itself where it is today, but I want to break that myth and challenge the way you think.
We are all in this together–and when one suffers, it affects us all.
These people groups may have less, from a financial and accumulative goods standpoint, but that doesn’t mean they are less. We are all people. Humans. We are all in this together–and when one suffers, it affects us all. Not sure about that statement?
Let me break it down for you:
You can fight crime by chasing away the drug dealer on the corner all you want, but what if there wasn’t anyone dealing drugs in the first place? Wouldn’t that be a more effective approach to stopping crime?
95% off all incarcerated individuals are eventually released.
You need the help of the incarcerated to reduce your local crime rate. 95% off all incarcerated individuals are eventually released. That means they will be working at your local bakery, they will be sitting across from you at PTA meetings (because, yes, their kids go to school with your children), and they will be moving into your neighborhoods. There is no “us” and “them”–it is just us. All of us. Living together on this earth. When opportunity to grow, change and reform in prison is NOT presented to those housed there, everyone on the outside suffers.
You NEED these men and women to reenter society with a sense of purpose and a dream in their hearts to lead a changed life. Because think of how different the world would be!
And think of all the talent, creativity and innovation our world is missing due to homelessness and addiction! That open job position you have had posted for the last few months, what if there is the perfect candidate, but he or she is fighting homelessness? Think of the potential our world is not reaching because there are hundreds of thousands of people who can’t bring their best to the table because they are fighting addictions or recovering from being trafficked?
This is not a “them” problem, this is an “us” problem.
We are all affected by this loss.
Let’s see what the Bible has to say about this: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” – Revelation 7:9 NIV
Note how the verse uses the word every. The great multitude was made up of every nation, every tribe, every people and every language. It does NOT say every people group except the homeless or incarcerated. It does NOT say every tribe, but then the addicted stood on the sidelines. When we all join Jesus in heaven, there will be no “us” and “them” it will only be a great multitude all praising the Lamb together. So, if you think the issues of some of the marginalized groups I have mentioned are issues that don’t affect you. Think again…because in heaven, they will be standing right next to you.
We need to think differently for society to be its best.
So, what do we do about this problem?
Enter The Global Leadership Summit (GLS). Through the GLS Prison Program and U.S. Ministries initiatives, we stream the very same content you see on the Summit stage into prisons, homeless shelters, addiction centers, organizations for at-risk youth and to human trafficking survivors! Because when we say everyone has influence, we mean everyone has influence!
And we hear countless stories from these attendees of how this content has opened their minds to the possibility that they could be more than what society has been telling them. Countless men and women have come to know Jesus, crafted a vision to start businesses or begun leading small groups and book studies right where they are! Because when one is struggling, we all struggle. Humanity cannot reach its full potential when there is inequality and injustice in the world.
GLS20 was amazing from start to finish. 15 years I’ve been incarcerated and I’ve never felt such joy, passion, inspiration, pain and motivation all at the same time. Thank you! I can’t wait for GLS21!—Shawn, GLS20 attendee
…you see us as Christ sees us—valuable.
One thing that has me in awe about The Global Leadership Summit is the outlook you carry—that including us prisoners in your mission is of great importance. Labeled as outcasts and menaces to society, you show by your efforts in making the events available to us that you see us as Christ sees us—valuable.—Alejandro, GLS19 attendee at Heritage Trails Correctional Facility, U.S.
But we need your help to continue to level the playing field for these individuals who are marginalized by society!
You can change the narrative in your own life and adjust the way you see and speak of others. Maybe interact with someone you might subconsciously label as ‘different’ than you to help broaden your mindset to different people and cultures. If you want to contribute to more change, you can also donate to allow us to continue distributing the GLS content into transitional homes, homeless shelters and more. Learn more at theglsn.org/Prison
Watch Dale DeNeal share what happened in his local prison when his church started hosting the GLS on location.