“Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus…” is how the apostle began his letter to Philemon.
Paul was literally in prison when he wrote it, and Paul was in prison for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, on the one hand, it’s descriptive.
On the other, it’s shocking. Paul would go on to say, even in legal and physical captivity, he found his true freedom in Christ.
I wonder about that, as someone who values my freedom. In fact, I was invited recently to list my core values. Guess what I wrote at the top of the page? “Autonomy,” with a capital ‘A’.
Paul’s words humble me. I’m still learning to live into the paradox–I gain in Christ what I lose for Christ.
“Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus…”
When I visit Stan Wells, or read one of Stan’s letters, I think of Paul. Stan is in prison too. His reason for being there is not as noble as Paul’s. And yet, in prison, Stan has embraced the opportunity to tell his fellow prisoners about Jesus, the one who set him free.
Stan is at Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility and has been there for about eight months. Before that he was in Newton. Before that, Scott County Jail.
Stan misses the job he had in Newton, as a cook. But he works in the cafeteria now, and he’s glad this gives him the chance to meet prisoners from every unit, get to know them, ask them how he can pray for them, and share his faith.
Stan is progressing in treatment and working toward his GED. He has felt supported by God throughout, and he makes it his goal to be a role model for other prisoners.
He said he misses receiving my sermons. (I used to type my sermons out and preach from that written “manuscript,” but since last summer, I preach from brief handwritten notes, and Stan can’t access the audio sermon podcast.) But Stan still has a stack of my old sermons that he reads when he’s feeling down and that lifts his spirits. He makes a habit of sharing them with others too.
Stan also misses worship. He went to worship in Mt. Pleasant but did not feel the Spirit like at All Saints. He misses All Saints’ band, Ardor, and still sings their songs.
Stan misses All Saints’ people. We spent a lot of time catching up on how people were.
Stan will be reading this, since Laura prints and mails the e-news to him. Probably more than anything, Stan would want me to tell you that he is praying for All Saints. Fervently, Stan is praying.
Pray for Stan, too. I consider him a missionary sent by God from All Saints. I mean that. Together with Stan, we are prisoners of Christ.
Stan will love to hear from you. You can reach Stan by mail:
Stanford Wells #6051045
Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility
1200 East Washington
Mt. Pleasant, IA 52641
Thanks and peace, PC