Remember Those in Prison
Hebrews 13:3 says, “Remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering”
When we read this verse in context, we learn that the author was providing Christians in the early church some practical encouragement to put their faith into practice during harsh social conditions. First and foremost, the prisoners the author had in mind were those imprisoned because of their faith. Imprisonment was normal for disciples of Jesus during the birth of the church in the first and second century.
Many people may not realize it, but today, disciples of Jesus across the world are still imprisoned simply because they profess faith in Christ. According to Open doors, an international NGO advocating on behalf of persecuted Christians, across 76 countries, more than 360 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith.
To learn more about how you can get involved in remembering those persecuted because of their faith, I’d encourage you to check out The Voice of the Martyrs (vom.org). The Voice of the Martyrs is a missionary organization that serves persecuted Christians in the world’s most difficult and dangerous places to be a Christian. VOM also produces a newsletter that you can use to pray specifically for churches and individuals that are being mistreated because of their faith in Jesus.
In the United States, persecution because of faith by imprisonment is rare, at least at the time of this writing (2023). However, the United States has had a different kind of prison problem. While the United States has only about five percent of the world’s population, it has nearly 20-25% percent of its prisoners. According to current government statistics, the percentages of those in prison when categorized by race* compared to the US general population** point towards historic & systemic issues of racism in our country that still need to be addressed.
Followers of Jesus have a significant opportunity before them when it comes to the US Prison system. If you’d like to get involved, Prison Fellowship is also an excellent ministry that serves those incarcerated in the United States. Go to https://www.prisonfellowship.org/ to learn more.
*Incarceration rates by race (source: census.gov)
Asian: 1.4%; Black: 38.4%; Native American: 2.6%; White: 57.6%
**US general population percentages by race (source: bop.gov)
Asian:6.1%; Black: 13.6%; Native American: 1.3%; White: 75.8%