When a Knucklehead Goes to Jail - What Do You Do?
"All of us have been knuckleheads!" That's a quote from Buffalo City Court Judge Craig Hannah. The Bible says "all have fallen short of the glory of God." Teachers have had students miss the mark despite their best efforts. As a father, I always told my children that, "Accidents happen because people aren't careful." Yes folks, we have all been knuckleheads who've fallen short, missed the mark, caused accidents and done dumb things. When a knucklehead goes to jail. what should we do?
Yesterday I stood in a church and repeated a story that I read about eagle parents teaching their young eagle children to fly. A man looked up into a bright, sunny sky and watched the eagle flying lesson. The parents would fly in small circles at a low altitude. The eagle children would follow and mimic their parents. Upon the completion of each flying circle, the parents would fly higher. The man watched until eventually the eagles flew so high that they appeared as tiny specks floating in the sun, and then they disappeared altogether. As humans, we would love to see our children complete all of their learning circles as they soar into God's purpose for their lives. I don't know if any eagles become knuckleheads, but they do experience trials and adversity.
Storms are weathered differently by eagles. They will fly to the highest point - above the storm. Inner-city young men experience many kinds of different storms and most have not been taught the skills of an eagle. If you never lived in a violent and impoverished neighborhood, you have never experienced their storms. We all make enough mistakes on our own, even if we are placed in a perfect Garden of Eden, we do dumb things and miss the mark. Generational storms are caused by parents who have been unable to break from the life patterns of poverty and all the accouterments that come along with it; addiction, lawlessness, violence, abandonment, welfare etc. The children are raised in a lifestyle where prison time is normalized as "just a part of the game."
On Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 6:03 AM, I received a phone call from a 20 yr. old young man in Jail. I've known him for over half of his life. He is like a son to me. Actually all of the young people who've been a part of Youth With A Purpose over the past 15 years are like children to me and the other staff members at YWAP. The young man called me from the Erie County Holding Center in Buffalo, New York. He'd been arrested, again. He just caught his second charge in about six months time. He is a good young man who is exhibiting the unmistakable characteristics of a knucklehead. Despite a brief period in which he became an overcomer of his circumstances, he encountered another storm and he fell.
He's been moved to another Correctional Facility for at least another 30 days while he awaits his next court date. It's time for another eagle flying lesson. The first time an eagle flies, he has to jump off a cliff for the very first time. Each time we learn a new life pattern. leaving the old life can be like jumping off a cliff. Will you help me teach a young knucklehead how to fly like an eagle? For you, writing a letter of encouragement or a piece of wisdom to someone in prison who you don't even know might be as daunting as leaping off a cliff. The young man in jail does not have access to a Bible until he visits the Chaplain or someone sends him one from a Publisher. I gave him a verse that I will now give to you; "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13. You can give a knucklehead an eagle flying lesson with your words on paper written from your heart.
Here is the address and name of only one young knucklehead among many who just might be travelling along his own personal "Road to Damascus." Will you please write to him? Thanks for your time.
Erie County Correctional Facility
11581 Walden Avenue
Alden, New York 14004
Mario Digiacomo ICN# 145950
Matthew 25:36 - I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Hebrews 13:3 - Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
Psalm 69:33 - For the LORD heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners.
Isaiah 61:1 - The Spirit of the Lord GOD [is] upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to [them that are] bound;
Psalm 102:20 - To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death;
Isaiah 42:7 - To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, [and] them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
Psalm 79:11 - Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die;
Luke 4:18 - The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,