1st Letter to a Young Man in Prison

I was finally able to write a letter to a young man in prison. Trying to encourage and not judge is harder than you think. Read my way of doing that…

Even Prisons Have a Way Out

Your mom gave me your information July 17, 2017. It has taken all of this time to finally sit down and face my emotions as it relates to your current situation. I could not begin to imagine that you have succumb to the pressures of systematic racism and economic deprivation. The idea that a young brother that I love dearly is arrested is weighty by itself. As I raise my left shoulder to catch the tear hanging onto the few hairs on my lower eyelashes, it hits me that you are a son, a father, a nephew, a grandson, and a black man born with his back against the wall. By no means is this an excuse for anything you are guilty of consciously and subconsciously.

Please receive this letter as a new beginning in our relationship. I love you Terrell. I always have loved you and tried my best to show you how much I loved you. I prayed for you constantly and found myself becoming exhausted with thinking about you, where you were, and what you were doing.

You have watched me grow and mature to the man I am today. In that, you have also seen me overcome many obstacles that were placed in my path. “How did I do that?” I’m so glad you asked. First, I recognized that there was a God that was much greater than me and that God loved me unconditionally. He was representation of the ultimate Father in Heaven and on Earth. Daily, I realized I must repent for things I did and did not do intentionally. I sought His forgiveness daily. You and I both know I was far from perfect. My imperfection is what humbles me to not judge you or continue to beat myself over the head for making mistakes.

I am excited that God uses everything for his glory. In that simple, but powerful, promise I can keep trying hard to be better than I was yesterday. I also recognize that change does not occur without work. The biggest issue we have in our community is the mindset of stagnation and the inability to abdicate our pride and ego for the benefit of a greater good. We focus so much time and attention on silly things that have fleeting value (cars, clothes, tennis shoes, material possessions). It is definitely nice to have things, but at what cost. The people that were impressed with these things are just as ephemeral as the things they worship.

I can go on for days about what could have been; however, I will present you with what could be. First, prayer and repentance (personal with God) is the first step. God will search for the lost and celebrate you when you are found. He can sit you down and slow you down to get your attention. Start talking to God and earnestly ask Him to use you in a mighty way. Whatever His will is, it will be done! We have to come to the place of walking with God to live out our purpose. Things seem to go all wrong and haywire when we resist His plan for us. Stop fighting and worrying about how people that don’t matter see you and start seeing yourself the way God sees you.

What is your purpose? What do you want to do with the rest of your life? How can you be free despite being behind the physical bars of a prison? [A lot of people that are not physically locked up find themselves imprisoned in their minds — physical restraints can no longer be an excuse for a purpose driven life]

I am a resource for praying, writing, and walking in your purpose. God is your resource for unconditional love. Where will you go from here when God challenges you to live a life that is pleasing to him?

Stay strong and continue to pray for us in the community working hard to reignite the black community in loving ourselves and acquiring the skills and desire to be self-reliant. Let me know if you’d like me to come visit and continue writing. I’ll wait for a response. Until then, stay strong young brother and know that I am praying for you. You are being molded as you read this and being shaped like clay does not feel good going through the kiln and polishing process.

Heavy Hearted Uncle/Brother — With Much Love

Corey J Henderson, DrPH, MPA