The Hearts Behind the Prison Birth Project
One chapter before it all goes downhill in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells his disciples what it will be like on the day the Son of Man returns:
“Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ ” — Matthew 25:34-36
Pushing for a little clarification, they ask, “Excuse me Lord, but when did that happen?
Shaking his head (I imagine), Jesus explains: "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." — Matthew 25:40b
For the most part, finding avenues to follow these instructions is not too difficult in the Auburn community.
We can offer food, clothing, and hospitality to others without too much disruption to our own daily routines. The one thing on this list so far from my realm of experience that it becomes easy to ignore — a throw away — is that last one, “I was in prison and you visited me.”
That is not the case for my friends Erin Brown and Ashley Lovell, two of the staff members of the Alabama Prison Birth Project.
Erin, Ashley and their team work together to fulfill the following mission: “To improve the health of newborns birthed by women in custody while strengthening maternal bonds and maternal self-efficacy.”
And to be honest, the work they do takes my breath away.