The first time I met him was as a young girl in a private place in my heart, when I told him I believed in him and who he was. I read about him through the words in my Bible story book. He wasn’t afraid to touch lepers or talk with a woman by a well. He gathered children around, spoke to them and loved them. He loved me in my fishbowl.
The chaplains were a husband and wife team. They came every Tuesday. I saw them in action. They stood out in the dark hopelessness of the forgotten ones. They made eye contact
I was in prison and you came to me. Mt. 25:36 (Msg)
“Hello, young ladies,” they started the meeting at one of the tables. “How have you been? We’ve been praying for you. Are you feeling better Lupe?
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Did you get to see your mom, Anna?”
“Hell, no!” Anna spoke.
“We’re sorry, maybe next time. Would you like to talk?”
A few of the girls sneered and cursed at the chaplains under their breath. They didn’t flinch.
I was touched by this genuinely loving couple. I saw the Jesus of my childhood in their faces. They didn’t preach at us. They just listened and cared.
They noticed me standing quietly behind the other girls.
“Hello,” they said. “You must be Annette. Would you care to join us?”
They smiled warmly. I moved from the edge of the group and sat on the corner of the bench; almost sliding off. I still hid behind a strand of my hair, but they noticed me.
“We’re, Jeanne and Bob. We’re the chaplains here. If you need anything or just need to talk, let us know. We’re here for you.” They smiled grace into my heart. I knew then, that God did care about criminals.
Most of these girls had been runaways, drug abusers and gang fighters. They were all very broken. I was shocked when I learned that Anna had been abused by her dad, but they locked her up, because, she was told, “You were at fault, you must have done something to make your dad do those things. He needs to take care of his family.” So, she was put away.
I heard many broken stories over the next few months. Girls who had been lost and discarded were girls that Jesus loved. I know. I saw him.
I was taken into the chaplain’s home as a temporary foster home, before being placed in my first foster home. They loved me exactly the way I saw them in juvenile hall; unconditionally. I saw Jesus in their home.