Every day in RDAP (Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program) we have a large group session called “Community.” The entire afternoon class which consists of ninety total inmates is together to discuss issues, encourage one another, give out information and play ice-breaker games. It lasts about 30-60 minutes, depending on how much we have to talk about. At least once or twice during the week, sometimes more, each person is asked to lead or give out information on a certain topic. For example, a person might be asked to give information on today’s news, sports or weather. You could be asked to lead a game or say a word and discuss what that word means to them. Or you might be asked to give positive praise to an individual, lifting them up, making them feel good. The purpose of this kind of teaching is to get each person out of their comfort zone. For some, it’s easy to talk to a large group; for others, they are extremely nervous and physically shaking. By the end of the nine-month program, all ninety people in the class should be able to speak with ease to the group.
Unfortunately, this program is not filled with the brightest people. Most of them have not graduated from high school, although some are working on the GED. It’s sad, but some of them cannot even read or write. But we know Jesus loves them all!
Sometimes “Community” can drag on and on and can be very boring. There are seven of us in the group who try to make it a little fun and as exciting as possible. We made up a game among us while the class is going on. Each week we come up with a word that all seven of us decide on that must be said every time we are required to stand up and talk. Nobody else in the class knows the word except the seven of us. We try to think of a word that could be made up, challenging or funny. Sometimes being called on in the class on the spot can be very challenging as to how to use the word. For the seven of us, this “Community” time is full of our own silent laughs. If we could lol (laugh out loud…..man, I haven’t written that in a while HA!) without getting in trouble, we would! And if we can’t or don’t insert the word when we talk, the rule is that we have to do something embarrassing, which is even more comical….something the other six decide.
By playing this game we are alert and awake during our community time, and thinking constantly as to finding the right spot to insert “our word of the week”. Just so you know….the words from the previous two weeks have been RUIN and S’MORE. Our words can be hard to work with!
God’s Word has much to say on the use of words: Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that is may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29. Or Do not swear – not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your Yes be yes and your No be no, or you will be condemned. James 5:12. Or Encourage one another and build each other up just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Always be kind with your words. Encourage, up-lift, and say what is pleasing to others and to God. A word of encouragement offered at the right moment can make an impactful difference in someone’s life. Look around you. Be sensitive to another person’s need for encouragement, and offer supportive words or actions. And know that God will be looking down on you with a smile. Our words have power. Our words can change things. The way we speak can reveal the kind of person we are. Our words do matter.