Thursday, May 19, 2016
Emery: No price is too high for freedom
The word freedom may mean different things to different people and at different eras of life. For Rosa Parks, it was freedom to sit on the bus wherever she wished. It could mean freedom from an oppressive and tyrannical government, freedom of conscience or freedom to share my opinion without it being termed “hate speech.” Under other circumstances, it might be more internal and could mean freedom from a habit or an addiction — the power to choose against those things that would prove harmful and for those things that would do one good. Two memorable events this week focused on the importance of freedom — one political, the other internal.
An acquaintance had invited me, in my capacity as state senator, to attend a Recovery Prison Ministries meeting this past weekend. The meeting was not in my senate district, but the event description was intriguing. I attended and could not have spent the time more profitably. The meeting is termed Restoration Project Mission and is proving very effective in assisting released felons to successfully reengage with society. The meeting I attended included a guest speaker from southeast Missouri who had himself served time in prison on more than one occasion and in more than one Missouri prison.
Many of those leading the evening’s agenda were themselves convicted felons whose lives had been turned around completely by the spiritual fulfillment and personal fellowship they had encountered in this very effective Christian program. Attendees were mostly released felons and their family members. These were men and women, many of whom were repeat offenders, who had been costing the state in the range of $35,000 per person per year to incarcerate. Now they were becoming productive members of society and their local communities. For every 33 who escape addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex or crime and remain productive in their local communities, the fiscal benefit to Missouri would likely exceed $1 million annually. Please pray that these men and women continue to enjoy freedom from their addictions and are effective in empowering others as well.
The second freedom event this week was the Franklin Graham prayer rally, held on the front lawn of the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City. Even though it was cold and raining, one reporter estimated the size of the crowd at 1,000. I was confined to a space behind the stage due to the size of the crowd and could not see the speaker. Nevertheless, I listened while Franklin offered greetings from his father, Billy Graham, and exhorted all in attendance to study the candidates in every election and vote their conscience. His first choice was those with Godly, Biblical values; but even when the perception is “the lesser of the evils,” his appeal was that we all vote, not just in presidential elections, but in every election all the way to county and municipal. There was also a clear invitation to those attending to consider running for office. Finally, Mr. Graham prayed very specifically for our state and our nation as well as all public officials.
The rally was part of The Franklin Graham “Decision America Tour” with the theme pray, vote, engage, get involved and within the context that America’s only hope is Jesus Christ. Whether it is political freedoms like those acknowledged by our Constitution or personal freedom to overcome temptations, I hope we can all agree that no price is too high for freedom.