Pauline was a simple, retired teacher living in Memphis, TN, going to the church where I was once on staff. She was reading the Bible one day where it was talking about visiting those in prison. She told her friend, “I guess that means I need to start visiting people in prison.” So she started to try to go to her local prison and visit the inmates. The guards and prison officials asked why she wanted to do this. Did she have a relative in prison?
Pauline told them, “Because it says to in the Bible.” Yet she kept getting denied going to the prison. One day, an attorney in our church heard about her desire to visit prisoners. He took her to meet a prison warden at a state penitentiary where many prisoners were there for life. There was little hope for these murderers and hardened criminals.
When the warden met Pauline, he asked her, “Ma’am, what do you do for a living?” Pauline replied, “I am a retired elementary school teacher. I taught little children how to read in Memphis city schools.” The warden stopped in his tracks and said, “Ma’am, God sent you here. You see, most of these prisoners here cannot read well or at all. We have all these preachers come in here and talk about Jesus and then they leave. They tell them to read their Bibles, but they can’t, because they can’t read. Pauline, will you invest in our prisoners?”
Pauline invested in those prisoners for years and years, teaching them how to read every Tuesday. Tutoring takes time and it is one on one. But guess what? Pauline was following Jesus’ words to change the world. In fact, years later, George H. Bush, (then President of the United States) started a program called “A Thousand Points of Lights.” The President heard about Pauline and what she was doing to change the world by teaching prisoners how to read. Pauline was given an official award for being a “point of light.”
There was an official ceremony in Washington D.C. with a big dinner to recognize all the recipients. Pauline was asked to go and meet the President of the United States. What a great honor-what an opportunity of a lifetime! There was only one problem. The ceremony was on a Tuesday. Guess where Pauline is on Tuesdays? That’s right, she was going to be with the inmates teaching them how to read, so she declined dinner with the President. Remember, being about the kingdom means it is not about me!
Invest in the few, change the world