Daily Devotionals

Fresh Hope in the Most Unlikely Places

Pastor Daniel Bramlett

I spent my morning in the courtroom. That’s not something I get to say often! It was a tense room to say the least. My purpose was not to relieve the tension. Tension is good. We need to feel the weight of our decisions, good and bad. I was there to offer hope! Hope is never intended to relive tension or pain. Hope has always been present to sustain us; to carry us through the pain to the other side.

Southwest Arkansas needs a lot of hope. It has always been the responsibility and privilege of the Church to offer hope. Just to be clear, we do not offer the hope of a better humanity. The courtroom will always be tense because the world will always be rebellious. It has no choice. It has been bound to rebellion against God, itself and the rest of humanity since birth. And for most of the history of creation, God has been introducing hope. 

The strongest stance our Creator made in this avenue is seen as His Son hangs on the cross to redeem us in our rebellion. His death is proof of our stance against God and proof of His intensions to extend us hope. Because of His strong stance, those of us who are redeemed by Jesus’ blood must stand, too. The stance of hope I am choosing right now is in the courtroom through a new program we call RSAT. 

One way we can describe this program is to call it a jail-based rehab. The program comes with all the classes and expectations of a rehab and is completely contained within the confines of the Hempstead County jail system. Participants will spend three months inside the jail and nine months at an approved off-site location that will operate under the auspices of the jail. It is administered through a partnership between the jail and the local Churches.

Our goal is simple: to eliminate the stronghold of addiction in Hempstead County and Southwest Arkansas in this generation. Addiction is the number one presenting challenge to our residents. We realize the audacity of this goal and still we stand by it. We aren’t foolish enough to believe we can eliminate the influence of drugs. But we do believe we are bound to work toward the elimination of addiction as the number one presenting obstacle in our court systems, our schools, our business community, our neighborhoods and our family units. This is it, the single largest obstacle we have to overcome. If we can get over this hurdle, we can make it. 

So, what’s the strategy? Jesus has already built the roadmap for us. Our Churches have been preaching it for years. It’s time we put it into practice. If we can’t stand behind the claims of Christ to redeem and remake an individual in His name, how can we stand as a Church at all? If we can’t offer hope to those in closest proximity to us, why are we even here?

The plan is to offer this hope through three proven arenas. We will work to build up the confidence of the men in our care by offering a variety of skills classes. Men, we’ve been created to work. When we do that, when we make something with our hands and minds and step back to appreciate our work, something divine happens. God gives us confidence. When we do that faithfully under the leadership of His Spirit, that confidence moves us to obedience. We are partnering with trained individuals across our region to offer skills classes of all types; skills that can be used to earn a living and provide for their families upon graduation. 

We will work to rebuild the participants families through parenting, marriage and finance classes, and through a partnership with Southwest AR Mental Health that will provide a counselor. This arena is designed to retrain the brain in the way it views and understands the world. The men will learn the value of saying “no”, how to submit to authority, the necessity of a like-minded community and the beautiful gift they’ve been given in their families. 

Finally, we will work to rebuild hope in their lives through the Gospel. The Word of God offers new desires that can’t be found anywhere else. These men will be able to witness and experience first hand the joy of submitting their lives to the Lord. This will be the primary arena of transformation for the men. Every other arena will flow from this. A man’s family will continue to be broken until He submits to the Lord. His job, the products of his hands, will never be satisfactory until the Lord is in control of His work. 

We believe this will be the point of transformation for our region. We pray as we look back 25 years from now, we will be able to say, “That’s where new life started! When the Church of this region began to engage the communities of this region in their most broken, shackled places, things really began to turn around!” I pray this is the case. I HOPE this is the case!

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