PDL: My Brothers and Sisters

For some people, PDL stands for “Purpose Driven Life.” Here in the Philippines, the initials have come to stand for “People Deprived of Liberty.” The following is a short reflection written by Chaplain German B. Ramboyong Jr. on his work with PDL.

November 25, 2016

People: Prisoners are people. When they were imprisoned, their nature did not change. They are still humans. They do not become aliens, different from us. It is easier for us to judge them than reach them. However, our Lord Jesus taught that if we visit them we do it for Him (Matthew 7:37-40). He even calls them “my brothers and sisters.” This is why I carry on: without Jesus I will not be able to be a person to the “my brothers and sisters” in the jail. Or as I would like to put it, “I visit and serve Jesus in the prison every Monday”.

Deprived: Yes! They are deprived of many things. They cannot work and provide for their love ones. They cannot sleep, eat, and drink well. They can not exercise their rights. It is as if everything has been stripped from them either voluntarily or by coercion. On the other hand, by visiting and talking with them I give them the privilege to exhale bothering thoughts, disappointments, worries, and inhale some encouragements and exhortations. Their cells, cases and circumstances may be suffocating but at least they have the luxury to breathe out. And I have joy in my heart to be such a channel of life for some of them.

Liberty: In some degree, the prisoners have independence. They are not totally constrained. They can choose to be confined physically or psychologically for quite a long time or they can opt to be free. Some can be quick and others in a slow progression. But still others are worse-‘ reclusion perpetua’ or life imprisonment. Yet there is hope. I heard how Jesus not only liberated some prisoners in the physical realm but more importantly, in spiritual realm.

As you have noticed, the words “people”, “deprived” and “liberty” are in bold face and they are in the beginning of each entries, because for me each word signifies my general learning regarding pastoral care in prison. I find it awesome that the government has designated the term “People deprived of liberty” to replace the notorious label “inmates” in reference to the prisoners. But I still would like to just follow the phrase of my Lord Jesus and call them “my brothers and sisters”?

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