Kindness Inside Jail: That Time I Saw a Blessing This Side of Heaven

Have you ever done a simple act of kindness and later found out it made a difference?

Many such acts, done in Christ’s name, go unacknowledged. We may never know the outcome of some of these acts this side of heaven. Let me tell you about something I did in which I will not have to wait to find out the result.

In my service on behalf of The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI), I spend time each week teaching and counseling inmates in the L.A. County Jails. When I recently met Sean (on right in photo) at a reception for “returning citizens” I did not recognize him nor did I recall that we had met months earlier in jail.

At that time, he was not fitted with his prosthetic leg and was hopping around on one leg. That probably sounds odd, but it’s not unusual to see men in this condition on the jail’s “ADA” floor, where many have suffered amputation or similar trauma.

KindnessHe was just another inmate asking for a Bible. I had only small-print Gideon Bibles with me and he was hoping for larger print and a more readable version. So, I took time to search the Chaplain’s office and returned with a large print, Life Recovery Bible. The inmate thanked me for it, and I went on my way—something that has happened countless times at the jail.

At the reception, Sean told his story to a dozen men who either had taken or taught our ministry training classes at the jail. As a teen, he had followed every rebellious urge, indulging in drugs and alcohol, which led to trouble with the law. When he turned 21, he decided that he would change his ways and transform himself into a model citizen.

At his first honest job, however, he suffered an accident and the tragic loss of his leg. He thought, “How could God allow this to happen?” Sean’s “faith” in his ability to earn God’s favor turned to doubt, then to a return to his rebellious ways and soon back to jail.

Here in California, many jails and prisons now offer our TUMI ministry training classes. In one of these classes, Sean heard the Good News of God’s grace and mercy in Christ. For the first time in his life, he experienced forgiveness and began his journey toward genuine life recovery!

As he finished his testimony that evening, Sean held up his Life Recovery Bible and reminded me that I was the one who had given it to him at the jail.

At that moment, I felt as if a window from heaven had opened, showing me how our willingness to serve in small ways is multiplied by our great and awesome God.

Let us “not get tired of doing what is good,” because “at just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9 NLT)


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The Urban Ministry Institute of Los Angeles

Editor’s Note: Bob Lay is currently the Dean of The Urban Ministry Institute-Los Angeles, as well as a class facilitator and mentor.

Editor’s Add: Would you like to tell your story? is about sharing stories that point to how God is moving in Los Angeles. We want to share stories of His love through you and others in the local area. Please email your ideas and stories to Also, don’t forget to leave a comment about the story above in the comments section below. Thanks!



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