Coronavirus breeds additional levels of complexity and fear in prison.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected all of us with varying degrees of challenges. Many are struggling, and for some, hope feels unattainable. For the 2.2M people living in incarceration in the U.S., this crisis has added an additional level of complexity, isolation and fear.
Confined and overcrowded conditions make the coronavirus a particularly lethal threat in prisons for both staff and the incarcerated. Growing feelings of hopelessness, as well as mental and spiritual strain, are evident—especially when correctional facilities began to initiate lockdowns and cancel all visitations in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. Visitation—a lifeline of hope to those serving time—is no more.
What now? A new vision is born.
For Josh Smith, Executive Producer of Visitation 2.0 and Founder of 4th Purpose Foundation, who was also formerly incarcerated himself, this global health crisis could have put an immediate halt to his ministry, whose mission is to serve as a catalyst to make prison a place of transformation. When Josh could have given up, God gave him a new vision for a path forward.
“When COVID-19 hit us, it bothered me pretty bad knowing what it’s like in prison,” said Josh. “You see, I was in prison when 9/11 happened. They put us on lockdown, and I lost all visitation.”
“I battled spiritually and emotionally as I reflected on my experience in prison, and the isolation and fear that I felt,” said Josh. “I complained to the Lord, ‘You gave us a vision to make prison a place for transformation, but now we can’t even get in!’ So, I went to bed at 2 a.m., and at 4 a.m. God woke me up with a new vision. I worked for 2.5 hours, taking vigorous notes. I was really excited, but right after that, reality set in. I thought, What in the world? I don’t know anybody!”
But God provided.
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