Underground Ministries

Prisoner Relationship, Resurrection & ReEntry


If we don’t learn to embrace our own wounds, we will be tempted to despise the wounded.
— Father Greg Boyle

We cover our wounds. And we all have them.

The destructive coping behavior that leads to someone’s arrest is almost always an extreme form of numbing, running from, or expressing incredible past trauma. While the justice systems creates separation and punishment to try and deter such behavior, the wounds in our community go unhealed. The most wounded become the most disposed-of.

This month we offer you two short videos (total around 45 min) that explore the hidden wounds inside the exterior problems of gangs and prisons. And they point to the healing our relationships of new trust and tenderness can create.

Hopefully this first video will open up more curiosity and compassion inside you and your group for your incarcerated friend. Curiosity about what suffering they’ve survived in their early and adult lives, rather than confusion at the survival behavior that has landed them in prison. And compassion for their unseen and uncared-for traumas. Only in a context of compassion can we truly remove our protective layers—the street kind, and the church kind—face our wounds together, and begin to heal.

We don’t have to be a therapist, or part of Homeboy Industries, to be part of this healing. The video below argues that simply good relationships are the key to healing the abandonment and lack of safety in all trauma.

Good relationships are stable, over time. They don’t shame you or throw you away. They communicate openly—what I need, what I’m going through. It’s when we are willing to name how you enrich me, and how you have hurt me.

Whether your incarcerated friend succeeds or fails, relapses to pain-numbing patterns, breaks your trust or not, we seek this compassion, curiosity, and consistency.

But churches are full of wounded people—we’re just better at hiding the pain, and maintaining a more functional life. So the gift of this relationship is that stories of those in prison often times open up conversations we’ve needed for ourselves. Like violence in the home. Those who are survivors of abuse.

Churches aren’t always the safest places to expose what secrets, family messes and shame we manage. We hope this months’ material begins to open deeper conversation not only with your incarcerated friend, but between one another in your group.

What traumas in your or your family life have you avoided tending to?

How do we ask each other questions that invite the other to share their story?

What level of trust do we need to build together . . . so that our hearts and histories can open to one another?

Hurt people hurt people.

Healed people heal people.

Take time to sit with this prayerfully: God, what do you want me to show me, or heal in me? How might that inform how I connect with our person this month?

We bless you, your incarcerated friend, and your group, with the radical tenderness and healing we so need today.