Helping and Enriching Lives Through Prison Ministry

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Ingratitude is Something I Detest


Ingratitude is something I detest. My parents always taught my brothers and I to be appreciative. They grew up in the depression and certainly never took material things for granted.  I am thankful for that.  My wife and I worked hard to teach our children gratitude also. They are all grown now and have all expressed appreciation for those lessons we taught them. The Bible teaches us all in a bold, repetitive manner to be thankful. The OT is replete with the condemnation of the lack of appreciation and thankfulness that Israel showed to Jehovah. That lack of appreciation showed in their lives in many ways such as idolatry. Jesus beats the same drum and never more directly than the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17…

Luke 17:12–19 (ESV) And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” 

I have read this story many times, but recently it reminded me of so many of the men I work with. There is a genuine desire to be healed of their painful broken lives.  They want a fresh start, forgiveness, and love. However, their actions show that once given those things by God and His people they generally show a lack of gratitude therefore, a lack of praise to God. It frustrates me and saddens me. So many of you give so much so these men can have a new start and they walk away and their lives boldly proclaim a lack of thankfulness.  Sometimes they leave in the middle of the night, sometimes they pretend to be thankful, but quickly live lives that show they are not. One brother that recently walked away from God after moving out of the transition house admitted he had never had so many people who showed love and concern for him, but he decided to return to the world from which he came. He appreciated the healing, but would not live a life of gratitude to his Savior. I wonder how he could wake up a single day and not say with his life thank you to the merciful God that healed him. How could a leper not say thank you for being healed?  I don’t understand.  The one out of ten rule seems to apply to the prison work.  It stinks.  I wish it were different.  I feel bad that after so many have given so much that most of these men are ungrateful. I feel bad that after God has offered them healing one more time they won’t even tell our Father thank you, and offer praise to Him with a changed life. I frequently tell men in prison that all any of us who reach out to them want for our efforts is their changed life. That is the ultimate expression of gratitude toward God and His servants. I guess I need to learn to be more thankful for the one!

On a more positive note, the prison work sometimes reaches families of the men we work with. An inmate at Lawtey, Paul Ditch, was baptized into Christ in September. Paul’s wife Anne moved to Virginia after his incarceration. She actually began seeking God before Paul was arrested and decided to change his life. She stuck with Paul and embraced his pursuit of God by studying the scriptures with him and encouraging him by phone while he has been in prison.  Our efforts with Paul to seek and find the truth in scripture encouraged Anne’s search for a congregation that embraced that pursuit. Enter Jason Cicero. Jason preaches at the Annandale church of Christ in Annandale Virginia not far from where Anne lives. Jason and I knew each other through my two sons. He preached at the Vestavia Hills congregation in Birmingham where my sons were worshipping. I contacted Anne and told her about Jason and she finally visited there a few weeks ago for the first time. Jason met with her a few days later to study and she was baptized into Christ that day.  Praise God for the power of His word and for brothers like Jason who are willing to reach out and share the good news. Isn’t that one of the ways we show God how thankful we are for what he has given us? I pray that we will all show God the proper thanks and praise He deserves every day. Let each of us be the one in ten!

I hope I have shown the proper gratitude in my life to my Father in heaven, and I hope I have shown that to all of you that continue to enable me to go reach the one of ten.

Thank you.  Daryl Townsend