I recently viewed a video from Lord John Taylor of Warwick, member of Parliament. He heads up a mentoring program, helping our youth discover their gifts and talents. In this video, Lord Taylor expressed his gratitude to God for giving him opportunities to rise above those circumstances that typically hold a person down and keep them from realizing their dreams. He said, “Train your brain. Be a voice, not an echo.” Some people don’t feel that they have a voice because no one has ever encouraged them to use it. But everyone does have a voice, and there are people available to help youngsters become all that they can be.
As I’ve been involved in Gideon’s Army Jail & Prison Ministries, it has been a privilege for me to serve as a mentor to inmates, encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone and stretch themselves to overcome those obstacles that have hindered them. I struggled for many years with reading. In fact, it wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I started to enjoy reading. I had a wonderful English teacher named Judith Keller who arranged for each member of my class to select a book from her bookcase and meet with us one-on-one to discuss the book. I think what made a difference for me was being given the opportunity to choose which book I would read instead of being told which book to read. I discovered that I could actually get involved in a story and learn from it. This is what I am trying to encourage our inmates to do. Either learn how to read or begin reading and sharing with us what books have made a positive impact on them. In our monthly newsletters, I invite inmates to write book reviews as well as poetry and essays. We’ve got some very people serving time, and I’m looking forwarding to showcasing their work in a book called “Freedom From Within,” due out later this year.
In his video, Lord Taylor also made the comment, “There’s only one race, the human race. We all have problems. We all have setbacks; but I always believe that we get better, not bitter.” This is another principle that Gideon’s Army Jail & Prison Ministries is working to instill in the minds of inmates. Don’t let your mistakes keep you from achieving your goals. Learn from your mistakes. You don’t have to keep making the same ones over and over and over. It is possible to break free from the mold that’s been set for you.
I like to think that we are all “students of life.” We get A’s in some of our classes, F’s in others. We’re all trying to graduate with honors. Let’s share what we’ve learned, pay it forward, and do what we can to get better, not bitter.
I am excited about partnering with Lord Taylor and the Warwick Foundation. Please visit his website at: http://www.warwickleadership.org