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Columns

January 28, 2012

We must understand the value of every soul

Have you ever gone out for a walk and noticed a penny on the ground? I have, and my first thought was to just pass it by, because pennies are worthless and can't buy much. I can remember growing up going to the corner store to buy candy for a penny, which can't be done today. As I passed by the penny I thought how many people we just ignore because we think they are worthless.

How about that person incarcerated in the county jail or state prison? What about that person's family? They are the ones really doing the hard time. How about the person living on the street, you know the one, he lives under the bridge or in the park or sleeps in the hallway of the local police station or office building? Then there is the person who is hungry and has no money to buy food. Then there are those addicted to alcohol or drugs, or the single mom struggling to provide for her family. And we can't forget the elderly living on less than $1,000 a month struggling to pay their bills and put food on their table. These are the people I encounter on a daily basis.

We pass them by because we do not want to have to talk to them. I used to think people who didn't know Christ weren't worthy of my time. I was too afraid to confront anyone with the life-saving information that I had to give. I was watching their soul float away in the rising flood water and not doing anything to help.

How many of you have felt this way? I don't any more because of the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. Plus the heart that God gave me would not allow me to not to risk my life to save a lost drowning soul. Just as I would not stand idly by and watch a person drown, I could not watch a lost soul die without doing something.

We pass by those pennies every day and we see them, but we don't pick them up because they we think they are worthless.

Look at Matthew 25:35-40: "I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me into your home. I needed clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'

Then the people who have God's approval will reply to him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you as a stranger and take you into our homes or see you in need of clothes and give you something to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?'

The king will answer them, 'I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant {they seemed}, you did for me."

In this passage, Jesus is getting a point across. God does not create worthless people. Every unborn child or every retired person and everyone in between are worth a lot to God. They are worth the life of his only son. Just like you are. Not only do they have worth, they have an eternal life. Jesus states in this passage the consequences for not recognizing the worth of all people can be bad. Jesus is calling us to reach out to those the world has discarded as being worthless.

I am so glad to be a part of the Jail Ministry of Otsego County that is doing what Jesus said as we reach out to those incarcerated and also to their families. Lives are being transformed on a weekly basis as the word of God is being preached in our Sunday chapel services, Bible studies, one-on-one counseling and our Christ-centered 12-step program. Also through our Gifts From the Heart Christmas outreach, the children of inmates are not forgotten.

This year through the generosity of churches, organizations and individuals in our county we able to provide gifts to 144 children who have a parent incarcerated in our county jail or state prison. I thank you for your help in making this outreach a successful one. I am also glad to be employed where on a daily basis I get the wonderful opportunity to reach out to many people in need.

As we have just entered into a new year may I challenge you to ask God to use you to reach out to those the world has discarded as being worthless?

Ameen Aswad is the executive director of the Jail Ministry of Otsego County

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