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"We Are Human Beings Worthy Of Another Chance."

The heart of what we do is written in the very fabric of our name, HeartBound. We are reaching hearts bound by prison walls.

You see a lot of scars in prison – naturally one assumes that these scars are earned through a life of criminal behavior. But often when you sit down with an incarcerated person and speak with them, you learn that they have borne these scars for decades. The sins of the father are sometimes physically and mentally imprinted upon their bodies and minds. They, like you and me, don’t want to feel alone. They don’t want to be forgotten.

The HeartBound team has been interviewing volunteers and prison seminary students. One question we asked our volunteers was, “What do you wish the free world knew about those in prison?” Again and again, we’ve heard the same response: “They are more like you and me than you could ever imagine.”

Typically, no one cares about what happens in prison until they, or a loved one, ends up behind bars. And that’s unfortunate because there’s so much humanity in incarcerated people. Absolutely, some of them have caused serious physical, emotional, and psychological pain, but I have not met anyone who I would label as truly irredeemable. The work HeartBound does isn’t always easy, but at its core is Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Our neighbors just happen to be in prison.

When you help HeartBound, through your prayers and your giving, your money is going directly to help our incarcerated neighbors. We don’t take big salaries or spend your money on fancy dinners and flashy fundraisers. We do invest 86 cents of every dollar right back into programs to reach incarcerated people, their families, and correctional staff, such as prison chaplains.

We need your help, plain and simple. We cannot do it alone. We need God, we need our families, and we need our friends to help us do this. We and the 50,000+ men, women, and teenagers in Georgia’s 33 prisons appreciate your gifts and your help more than words can express. Your impact is real as reflected in the words of one of our seminary students who recently wrote a letter of appreciation:

“Living everyday behind barbed wires we are mainly known by a number, last name, and our crime. But seminary reminds us that there are men and women who still value us as human beings worthy of another chance.”

For the most part, I’ve been behind the camera for our video interviews lately, but if I had to answer the question, “What do you wish that the free world knew about those in prison?”, I would say this…

I wish everyone knew how much these people matter. How in the midst of darkness and suffering and pain, they survive. Some even thrive. They have hopes and dreams and aspirations just like me and you. They are not different than us, and I am no better than any one of them. Some of our program participants are Muslim, Christian, and agnostic, and I’ve spent two years gaining their trust. But no matter their belief, I watch them analyze biblical text and provide context. If there was ever something beautiful in prison, that is it for me.

Thank you for your gifts and your prayers. Together, let’s love our neighbor! As we do, we look forward to seeing God doing “exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine.” Thank you for being a part of the journey.

With immense gratitude,

Spencer Shelton

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