I grieve the sentencing of my son Jakari to a life term for a crime committed several years ago, but in my anguish, I began to wonder how many other families were like ours, and how many men there are out there who have a direct relationship with Peoples Temple and Jonestown and who are in prison. I wonder how these men ended up there and who they were related to, but more importantly, I wonder what kind of contact they have with the outside world. Understanding first-hand the effects of incarceration of a loved one – as Jakari has spent the majority of his life behind bars – I was concerned about them falling between the cracks: did they have anyone on the outside that they were communicating with, did they know anyone who knew their families? The thought of them being alone hurt me. I am less concerned about the crimes they committed in the past than I am about their own sense of dignity as human beings in the present. Coming from place of forgiveness, I make an effort not to judge, but to attempt to offer solace to a broken spirit.
When a loved one goes to prison, the family does the time with them. But did they have anyone doing the time with them? With this in mind, I have launched a ministry I call FLIGHT (Finding Light in God’s Higher Truth) to provide communication, emotional support and encouragement to those imprisoned. This is a LOVE ministry! This outreach is Communication to the outside world is monumental to someone incarcerated. So many are forgotten about and I can only imagine the additional loneliness and isolation that is experienced.
I come to this outreach ministry with the knowledge that there is a Creator; that through that acknowledgement which is pure love can come a healing through the truth of that understanding. With that said, it is not my intention to convert anyone into any belief, either the people who join me in this effort or the men I hope to serve. Deep within my heart, as I acknowledge my own son’s sentence, however, I still believe that he and anyone behind bars can become a blessing to others. He is not to be forgotten about.
I ask those who feel drawn to work in this outreach to email me, so we can begin this project.
(Leslie Wagner-Wilson was a child of Peoples Temple living in Redwood Valley from age 13. She lived in Jonestown until escaping with her two-year-old son and several others the morning of November 18th. Her husband, mother, sister, brother, niece and nephew died in Jonestown.
(Leslie is a regular contributor to the jonestown report. Her other articles in this edition are Suffering in Silence, This Season, and Wayne Pietila – Giving Us Fond Memories. Her earlier writings are collected here. She is the author of Slavery of Faith, available through her website, and can be reached via email@example.com.)