Prison Gangs, Oprah and the Teaching at Church Last Week

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Every once in awhile I see a connection or a recurring theme coming out of totally different places in my life.  Recently I saw a connection between a documentary about prison gangs, a quote repeated on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday show and the teaching by Marc Schelske at Bridge City from 6/1/13 titled : No Longer Far Away
I watched a documentary recently about prison life and prison gangs. If you are interested, you can watch it here:
In the outdoor prison yards, everyone separated themselves into their respective gangs, generally by race.  They don’t interact with members from other gangs unless it’s a fight or something. A couple of prisoners that were interviewed were asked how they got their scars or injuries…assuming it was from a rival gang member. Both prisoners said they got their scars and injuries from both THEIR gang AND rivals. The gangs are run by gang leaders who are in solitary confinement because they are so dangerous. So the gang members are following “rules” set forth by people they may have never met and never see. The guards basically said the gangs have the power in the prison…OVER the guards. They are just TOO powerful.
Then there’s this other yard they called the “dropout” yard. These are Prison Gang Dropouts. Some are there by choice, some because they were kicked out of their gang for various reasons. Many of them are constantly in danger of being killed by members of their previous gang.
But here’s the thing that caught my eye. In the “Dropout Yard”, there was no segregation. Black hanging with hispanics hanging with whites, all brothers, all looking out for each other. How is THIS the “Dropout” yard?!
The second connection was Marc’s teaching this week based on Ephesians 2:11-22. It was a VERY powerful message. You can see it here:  But here’s my Cliff Notes:
What Jesus did on the cross redeemed ALL of humanity.  ALL OF HUMANITY! Not just the good people, not just Christians, not just Americans, not just those outside of the prison walls,  not just US but also THEM!
Marc said “If I hold on to old hostilities, I have not been transformed by the gospel.” The gospel teaches Grace. If I believe in and understand Grace, I understand that it applies to ALL. I look at the grace God has given me…ME and learn how to release my old hostilities and instead, extend grace, as God has done for me.
Here’s the third connection I had.  On Oprah’s show Super Soul Sunday last week, the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist Monk Thích Nhất Hạnh paraphrased a quote by the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  The paraphrase was this:  “If we really listened to our enemy’s suffering, we would no longer be enemies.”  The original quote is this: “If we could read the secret history of our enemies we would find in each man’s sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”
Marc gave an analogy of his teaching by picturing a wagon wheel with the spokes. God is at the center. The closer we get to God, the closer we get to each other. This is what created the church so long ago.  This is what can change the world today.

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