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Jan3TueAs a student court support worker, I saw Jesus at work in the judicial system. January 3, 2017 by Chelsea Moore
Last summer, as a student court support worker with The Salvation Army's correctional and justice services, I shadowed the chaplain for Old City Hall and Metro North Court in Toronto. We started every day with prayer, then visited cells and offered a ministry of presence in court rooms.
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The most challenging aspect of this experience for me was not being able to fix everything. I met a lot of different people, with a lot of different struggles. There were many times when I felt completely useless, sometimes even dumb, honestly—because here were these beautiful people, who have these big hurts, and I had nothing to make it better. All I had to offer the people in the cells was a sweater or a phone call. I couldn't make their pain go away, and I couldn't protect them from the world, no matter how much I wanted to.
What I learned, though, is that it's not my job to take their pain away—God does the healing. Although what I had to offer seemed insignificant—a sweater, a phone call, listening to someone's story—those things matter, and God uses them. But the most important thing I could offer was prayer—taking all the hurt, struggles, worries and anxieties to God.
There were many amazing moments, but the one that sticks with me happened after I had only been working for a few weeks. Reverend Rebecca, the chaplain I was shadowing, had a lunch appointment, so I was in the office on my own when one of the Crown attorneys knocked on the door. She explained that she was looking for resources for a mother and son. As she left to get the family, I panicked—I felt completely out of my element. Reverend Rebecca was stuck in traffic and I was on my own.
The most challenging aspect of this experience for me was not being able to fix everything.
So I did what she had taught me—I stopped and prayed. The family came in and sat down. At first, I scrambled to find them phone numbers and e-mails, but I quickly realized that wasn't what they needed. It was a precious opportunity to listen as they bravely and honestly shared their story with me.
As the boy was talking, I began to sense similarities between his story and mine. We were about the same age, and had been through similar painful experiences. We sat together for over an hour. I shared a little bit of my past and some of the things that helped me get through those times of hurt. I also shared Scripture with them.
The family went on their way just as Reverend Rebecca arrived, and I was left in awe at our great God. He had used my past—a past I had thought was just pain and darkness—and brought light. My story helped me share Jesus with someone.
I'm so grateful for everything I learned through this internship. It has shown me that I want to be a social worker in a prison—a job I didn't even know existed before this summer.
But the most valuable part of the experience was seeing Jesus at work. He was so present and real. I learned that even in the darkest places—in a court setting with such broken people, me included—there was also so much love, because Jesus was there. God taught me, with the help of everyone at correctional and justice services, that he can and does bring light anywhere.