Nick Holovaty (Evansville missionaries) shared this story at the Leaders' Conference for Women a few weeks ago:
A few weeks ago I went to visit Jason in the county jail. We’ve known Jason and his family for about four years. When he came into the visitation room at the jail, he could hardly look at me. Jason has scars on his face—he looks like a pretty tough guy, but when he saw me he began crying. He was ashamed.
“I’m just worthless!” he said after a while. “I don’t know why I got locked up this time. I didn’t do anything. But I know I deserve it for what I’ve done before. It’s all on me. I’m just worthless.”
After a pause he said, “Why would you come to see me? I don’t know why anyone would come to see me! Why would you come to see me?”
“Because you’re my brother!” I blurted out.
Then something kind of clicked for him. He said, “You know, God is using me in here!”
He told me his cellmate had changed since he showed up. Instead of being angry at everybody he was starting to admit his situation was his own fault—“Like me,” Jason said. The men in their jail pod had even started praying together every night.
“And you know Nick, with all I’m going through...” (I thought of his struggles with alcohol, his run ins with the police, getting fired from work, getting beat up, getting locked up, being homeless, getting his kids taken away from him…)
He continued, “This is gonna sound strange, but I think of Jesus and everything they put him through and it was for our sake! It was for us! For our sins! And I feel like I’m going through it for everybody else too! I’m like Jesus! The only difference is I deserve it!”
It was my turn to cry. Jason and I held our hands up to the plexiglass between us and prayed for each other. I started, he finished. “Love you, bro!” Jason said. “Love you, too!"