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Love at work in prison
There we were, in a glass-enclosed room with our seven young male students, all violent offenders in a youth correctional facility. My husband and I had been teaching these young men about Christian Science and about God’s love for them, and now it was time for them to apply what they had learned.
I watched them shift uneasily in their seats. They had just found out that the two young men who had stabbed some of their fellow prisoners with pens the night before would be allowed to return to the prison ward that night. Since all the men on the ward slept in one big room, not in separate cells, they felt vulnerable after lights-out. They feared a repeat of the violence and told us, “We don’t know what we’re going to do.”
As I heard my husband assure them of their safety in the everlasting arms of divine Love, I turned to God in prayer and quietly affirmed His constant presence and power despite the apparent threat. Just as Moses heard what he needed to know when he spoke to the children of Israel, I knew that I, too, could hear and speak God’s Word to these young men to calm their fears.
I listened for the still small voice of divine wisdom, and the thought came that God and His goodness are ever present, and that Christ, Truth, is always communicating that goodness to each of us—and expressing it in each of us as Love’s image. I knew that all of God’s creation reflects the perfection of the one divine Mind. Since God is Love and governs everyone, I reasoned that there could not possibly be a victim or a perpetrator. I also recalled the statement “Divine Love corrects and governs man,” which was in the Bible Lesson that week from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (p. 6 ).
I told the men, “God is Love, and He has created each and every one of us to love and be loved. The word God comes from the word good. God has created each of us good, and the goodness of divine Love shines on everyone in this ward right now and always, leaving no one out of the kingdom of heaven. God, good, Love, takes care of you and me and all, because God is All-in-all, so there is nothing to fear.”
We learn in Christian Science that a humble desire to be and do good is prayer. My husband and I had taught the young men in the class the Lord’s Prayer, together with its spiritual interpretation in Science and Health (see pp. 16–17 ). We also assured them that to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5 ) is empowering, and they were being given an opportunity to prove that their prayers could be effective in their own lives.
So how did it all turn out that day? Was our prayer effective?
Prayer has a leavening effect that not only blesses the one who prays but also lifts the thought of others involved in the situation. And, as in the story of the woman who hid the leaven “in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened” (Luke 13:21 ), right there in the prison, the leaven of divine Science leavened the whole ward. Our students exuded a confidence that God was their Life and that the power of God—the action of Love—takes care of man.
They high-fived each other as they walked out of our session into the prisoners’ common area. Written on yellow sticky-notes stuck to their shirts was Mrs. Eddy’s statement “Divine Love corrects and governs man.” They were empowered by the realization that they had the divine right to be free of fear.
There were no further problems with fights breaking out in the prison ward, even after the two prisoners returned. We had all patiently persevered and proved the effectiveness of prayer to overcome fear, and we had demonstrated that all of God’s children are under the control of divine Love. We had heeded Paul’s injunction “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21 ).