I have just recently been released from prison after serving thirty two years. For well over twenty of those years the Jordan Gospel Ministry has been a part of my life and the impact it has had is not easy to express in words. They became…family.
After being arrested, tried and convicted, sent off to prison and indoctrinated into the environment of prison – both by the inmates and staff – I had felt, more than anything else, the loss of my family. Though I could call and write, the connection was broken for me. When I needed a place of comfort and peace, there was, as anyone behind the walls knows, nowhere to go and no one to go to. There is an old saying, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” That is especially true of family. I missed my mama, I missed my daddy, my sisters and cousins, my nephews and nieces, especially when Christmas rolled around…
I remember the first time I had ever done the 12 Days of Christmas, (Mama Jordan style), and believe me, it was a joy. I couldn’t talk the next day because I was hoarse from screaming, “And a partridge in a pear tree!” There is a spirit that moves in our hearts when we all come together in one accord. It touches that place in our heart which hungers for community, for family.
Mama Jordan’s great compassion and care for us has always been the same kind of no nonsense love that I had missed from home. I learned, slowly but surely, that I could find refuge from the same old monotonous routine of my everyday life. Even though I was helpless to change the circumstance of my incarceration, I did have the choice to join in, for the small hour or two that I was there and I did. With my whole heart…
I want to encourage everyone, whether you are in blues or not, when you enter the C-Day spirit, don’t hold back. Open your heart and let the kind of love, a Mama’s love, make a difference for you this Christmas. Without fail you will hear, “Mama Loves you. YOU are special and you are somebody, cause God don’t make no junk!”
Every cookie has been donated by those in the community who supports you and believes in you. I know for a fact that many nights I felt alone. I struggled so hard to find a balance between the reputation I thought I had to uphold (that I don’t need nobody) and the craving in my heart to be accepted and loved. Discovering that there was an entire network of people who loved me was… transforming. The work that Jordan Gospel Ministries does reaches further than just the prison walls. Remember that when next you think or say that you don’t have anyone.
I am now part of that community. That’s right… I wasn’t abandoned when I stepped through those gates. In fact, Mama’s love, (MaryAnn Jordan,) that of Melise Jordan, her daughter, as well as everyone else involved in every part of this ministry have been instrumental to me and I thank GOD that I have them all in my life.
With every cookie that goes into that bag, there is a prayer, and a hope…
Get into it, dig into it, and chew on that!
Carl E. Shuck was sentenced to prison when he was in his teens. He served almost 32 years and was released in July of 2016. He writes from his perspective of being a former inmate, a Christian and learning a whole new world that has changed while he was behind bars.