Hear and Understand

Sunday, July 13

7-13By Lu Mountenay of Independence, Missouri, USA

But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit…

—Matthew 13:23 NRSV

When we lived in Ohio, a letter came to the region office of the church. It was from an inmate at a maximum-security prison who wanted someone to write her. She read some information about Community of Christ and wanted to learn more. I thought it was a worthy investment of my time, so we began to write each other.

After a few months, Jenny asked if I would visit her in prison. I was sorry I didn’t think to offer before she asked. I drove to a town about 40 miles away. Warning signs about banned items lined the road approaching the prison. Spiraling razor wire topped the outer walls.

After the guards checked me for metal objects, they allowed me into the visitor’s room. I had a long wait because they do not prepare the prisoners to leave their cells until the visitor arrives—just in case the visitor does not keep the appointment. A common happening they told me. How sad, I thought, vowing I would not do that to Jenny.

I worried we would have long periods of awkward silence, but the two hours of nonstop talking went by quickly. When the “time’s up” buzzer went off, we reluctantly started our good-byes and fell into a natural embrace. She thanked me for coming to minister to her. I thanked her for ministering to me. At that moment, still in a hug, I felt her take a sharp intake of breath. I had shocked her by what I said.

“Do you mean it? I ministered to you?” she said.

“Yes, Jenny, you have. You have blessed me.”

Jenny said, “I didn’t think I could ever minister to anyone. Thank you so much.”

I visited every month until we moved from the state. She asked me not to ask her about her conviction, and told me she was innocent. I didn’t question her, instead basing our relationship on our love of Christ and each other. She listened earnestly to my assurance that she was a person of worth, and that God loves her. I hoped I was making a positive impact.

I found out months later in our letters that she was taking correspondence college courses. She had learned sign language to interpret for a deaf inmate. She also was teaching Bible-study classes. She heard Christ’s call and understood.

Prayer for Peace Compassionate God, help us plant hope in lonely hearts. Help us share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Honoring the Worth of All Persons Sense the intimate knowledge and love God has for you and everyone. Be aware of the sacred worth of each person. Weep with God over the soul-wounding forces and events that rob people of dignity and worth. How does God invite you to notice, protect, heal, and affirm the spiritual identity of all God’s beloved people today? Pray for God’s compassion.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will invest my time by responding to a seeker.

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4 Comments

  1. Lu Mountenay

     /  14 July 2014

    Donald, this may have been in the Herald. The ending wasn’t different, just left off because of space. Jenny was found innocent and released after seven years.She was never bitter.
    Since the DB is no lonager a “book” the Herald is printing one DB story a month, so you may see repeats of 12 stories a year. Thanks for your kind words. Shalom, Lu

  2. Donald Jones

     /  13 July 2014

    I read this once before but do not remember where and thought there was a different ending. Anyway when Lu Mountenay writes I want to read it because she moves the brain and the soul to love the Lord and love the neighbor.

  3. Marlene Krueger

     /  13 July 2014

    What a beautiful experience, Lou. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Sharon Norris Sharon Norris

     /  13 July 2014

    Beautiful testimony!!!!

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