Thursday, December 10, 2015

"Whoever does this for the least of these..." --and today that is sex offenders; a Christmas story

Warm, fuzzy, feel-good stories about sex offenders are a little hard to come by, even at Christmas time. The stories are more likely to be of the type that threatens to put them out on the streets in the freezing weather or refuses them admittance to emergency shelters when they they have no place else to go.

That is why the headlines of a story this morning really caught my eye. It seems that a couple in Arizona, as part of their Christian-based ministry, have opened a home in which former sex offenders
are welcomed. Steve and Deborah Schmidt built the house where they are now living in Mesa because the transition for newly-released registrants would be facilitated.

Of course, while some neighbors are supportive, others are indignant and fighting the program. Some of their reasons are legitimate. The program is still in the process of attaining the required special use permit, and that needs to be done and is in progress.

Some of the reasons, however, are more of the type of which we are all too familiar--those born of fear-mongering, myth, and misinformation.

The Schmidts are very selective in choosing their registrant residents; they must fit in with the concept of a Christian ministry. They were totally up front about the home, inviting neighbors to an open house to acquaint them with the program and meet the current residents. They are acting upon what they feel is a call from God and say that if the required permit is denied, they will move elsewhere and continue their mission.

So for now, thanks to the Schmidts, a few men in Arizona have at least some prospect of a happier Christmas than they would otherwise have. And that should make a happier Christmas for us all.