“HOPE” by Tony Casson

“I pray that God, the source of Hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him.” (Romans 15:13 NLT)

My dear friend, Diane, passed on a letter sent to her by George, the voice of these “Chronicles” from inside the fences that surround Oakdale FCI (Federal Correctional Institution).

Here is an excerpt from that letter:

                                                                                                Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ciao Diane,

Thank you for sending the posts. I am enjoying reading more of Tony’s posts from the past – though now I guess they are reposts in the present. Also, thank you for sending Phillip the Mission Newsletter – http://www.missiondc.org/past_newsletters/164-year.2014_164-id.209715942.html  It was joyful to see all that the Mission does, and to see Tony contributing to their work. In fact, the photo of Tony in the kitchen brought tears to Phillip’s eyes. In that photo he saw freedom. A freedom of a SO (Sex Offender) out in the free world making a positive difference.

I’m not sure that most people know the anxiety most SO’s deal with as they believe society’s notion of being worthless – of forever being an outcast. It is so difficult for many SO’s to imagine having any type of success or any standard of living after leaving prison. Though I don’t know all of Phillip’s feelings behind his tears, I did feel that he saw Tony as a beacon of hope. A light on the shore telling all of us still out in the fog that it is possible to safely reach land again. Whether Tony knows it or not, his joyful efforts not only serve those in DC, or those who read his book, but they serve us here. Both as an example to us that meaningful life goes on, and as an example to a larger community that SO’s are not the monsters they imagine, or are supposed to imagine.

Well George, I appreciate those kind words and I post them in the hope that others may be encouraged as well.

But I must stress to all who read these words that God is our hope – mine, yours, the worlds. It is God who repeatedly reaches out to each of us (whether we know it or not) and tried to let us know that He is there, ready and waiting, for each of us who is lost to call out to Him that He may guide us safely home. It is God who is the beacon of light on the welcoming shore of safety, peace, and joy.

If I am anything, I am but one example of the incredible grace of our great God who then gives us the strength, through Christ, to be restored, renewed, and to grow as children of God.

As the Bible tells us, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 1:4 NLT) (Emphasis mine)

My hope is that everyone everywhere will see that their hope, too, is in God, and when they place their complete trust in Him, His beacon will shine brightly for them as well, allowing each one to reach shore safely and overcome their own circumstances which will enable them to rise out of their own pits of despair and hopelessness.

God cares for us in incredible ways. All we have to do is ask Him. Most of them are so small we often fail to recognize them as being of God, but collectively, those many small things add up to joyful, vibrant, productive lives lived for God, who then rewards us in ways that are too numerous to count.

There is hope, my friend. There is a beacon of light to guide you safely to shore. There is life after prison, after tragedy, after a single mistake, or a lifetime filled with them.

That hope lies in God, and if anyone is encouraged by my story, you now know the “secret” source of this new, wonderful life I have been given.

May God bless all who read these words.

And as for George and all the others I left behind: I love you guys. Know that I pray for you and think of you often. Stay on course, and keep asking God for the strength, through Christ, to arrive safely, joyfully, at your final destination. May you all someday say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” (2 Timothy 4:7 NLT)

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