niceSERVE at Summit's 33rd Street campus looks just a little bit different than it does for the other campuses. Instead of painting fences or cleaning yards, we devoted a week for the men to step outside of themselves and think about others by considering the topic of forgiveness.
On Sunday, we encouraged guys to start thinking about people they could forgive for the wrongs done to them or ask for forgiveness for the wrongs they've done. God showed up in some really neat ways for many of the guys, but in a particularly unique way for Joe. Not only did Joe, through tears, write pages of letters asking for forgiveness from family members, he also was able to experience something quite special. Here's that story, in his own words:
I have been in jail for over eight months now. I had one visit the first week I was here, but they didn't show up - and I didn't even know who it was. Since I've been in jail, I've dedicated my life to Jesus Christ. I've learned a lot about love and forgiveness the last several months.
I have had a fear of losing my mother before I would get a chance to tell her I was sorry for ever making her worry about me or hurting her feelings through my terrible decisions. I also cheated on my ex-wife over 10 years ago and so I asked God to let me ask her for forgiveness.
Tim and company came last Sunday from Summit. They were talking about forgiveness and how we were going to write a letter on Tuesday - either to forgive someone or ask someone for forgiveness.
I went to my room to reflect on my life and relationship with my mom. I prayed to God for a chance to tell my mother that I was sorry for my stupidity in my choices of life. This was on Sunday.
Monday my bunkmate said, "Hey Joe. You got a visit at 1:00." I said, "Yeah right." He said, "No really." So I told him he had to be talking about someone else, cause I ain't had any visits from anybody. I told him to check again. He came back and told me it was me. 1:00. A friend and a parent - but no names. So I started thinking.
Who could it be? My dad's in Tennessee and my mom don't get around so good.
1:00 came and lo and behold - my mother and ex-wife came to see me. A very intense situation. Out of 45 minutes, I cried and said sorry for 44 of them. God is real.
Take my word for it.