I recently read an article in 'The Guardian' about an initiative to end prison visitations. Instead of visits, many correctional facilities are implementing video calls. Much like Facetime®, prisoners will be allowed to hold twenty-minute conversations; all for the hefty price of $12.99 per call; to which many times, it’s reported that ‘the sound or the image doesn’t come through, or the calls cut off in the middle1.’ When I read that story, I wondered if it was legal and then that thought quickly morphed into how inhumane. I’m not saying they should be afforded luxuries, but human contact is necessary for us all. Not to mention these are our brothers and sisters in Christ, which means they are God’s children. Even if they were disobedient, they’re still His. And as such, I made it a point to find out what the Bible has to say about it. And lo and behold, I found three examples of such visitations smack dab in the New Testament.
Where Does the Bible Discuss Prison Visitations?
In Acts 23:12-22, we find Paul confined in Jerusalem. During which, ‘some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul [and]...when Paul’s [nephew] heard of their [plan], he went and entered the barracks and told [his uncle].’ Barracks would have been equivalent to a makeshift jail. But notice even there, Paul had a visitor - his nephew. During another stay, one of Paul’s mentees, Onesiphorus, made it a point to get on Paul’s visitors list to ‘refresh him’ and would go out of his way to ensure that he knew that he was ‘not ashamed of [his] chain.’ (2 Timothy 1:16, 17) Hence, the chain of incarceration. And let’s not forget what the Lord had to say about the subject. In Matthew 25:36, the Lord said, ‘…I was in prison and you came to Me.’ When the Lord said, 'came to Me', this let’s us know that it’s God’s will for prisoners to have visitors. I’m not saying that video calls are bad. But wouldn’t it be a better idea to keep the visitations in addition to the video calls?
What Can You Do?
I share this because we, as believers, don’t have to sit idly by while the enemy infringes on the rights of God’s disobedient children. Though they’re incarcerated and may very well be guilty, they are a part of the family and as such, our incarcerated brothers and sisters in Christ need our help. So how can you help? Start a petition. Contact your Senator. Or do like me, and search the Word, pray and ask God to touch the hearts of legislators to pass laws to ensure that we’re able to do what Jesus commanded and go and see about our disobedient brothers and sisters in Christ.
Pray this with me: Heavenly Father, just as it was lawful for Onesiphorus and Paul’s nephew to visit him, I thank You passing legislation to ensure that prisoners, nationwide, continue to have visitations. I thank You that in addition to visitations, that they’ll also be able to have uninterrupted video calls that may perhaps encourage them to get closer to You and do what’s needed to ensure their early release so that they can serve You in the free world. In Jesus’ name.
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1 Sims, Shannon. “The End of American Prison Visits: Jails End Face-to-Face Contact – and Families Suffer.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 9 Dec. 2017.