Saturday, March 8, 2014

Hope for the Abuser

The Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings about Hope.  And I strive to present the Hope of Christ to the prisoner.  God's Spirit moves me to inspire the incarcerated ones with Hope.  It's a fact that there is Hope for men in prison.  This Hope applies even for men locked up on account of domestic abuse.  One of the men in my prison congregation is locked up due to a domestic abuse assault - his 3rd such offense.  It is a persistent problem not only for him but also for the women in his life.  Something needs to be done.  That's where God's grace enters in and changes him from within by the Holy Spirit.  All things are being made new in Jesus Christ.  The other day he was sharing with me some of the things he's been learning in his domestic abuse class at the Newton prison.  It may not be brand new information for him but perhaps it reinforces what he already knows.  Besides this cognitive head knowledge desperately needs to sink deep within so that it influences his actions.

Here's what he told me about the cycle of abuse in a dysfunctional relationship.  It's all about actions and reactions.  Disrespect / Angry words and Hatred / violence mark a pattern within the abusive relationship.  Often substance abuse is part of the package as well. The abuser might act out when he's not in his right mind if he's drunk or high on drugs.  Another sad fact is that more often than not the abuser was abused himself at an earlier stage of life.

But when the Spirit enters into a man, things begin to change.  Circles of love and respect replace hatred/abuse/violence/disrespect.  It's more of a response than a reaction because it is a dramatic alteration of the will.  He acts with love, she responds with respect.  She sees evidence that his heart has been softened by the presence of God.  Of course all this takes time and accountability but I believe the renewal of the Spirit of Jesus Christ can bring hope even to broken relationships marked by patterns of abuse.