In my faith tradition, we have the story of a wise man who was once asked, “What has God been doing since He created the world?”. The wise man answered, “He is busy bringing people together”.
Less than a year ago I was asked to be a coordinator for SA sponsorship by mail, for prisoners in the U.S. who had reached out to SAICO for help. At first, it sounded like something very technical and not necessarily as fulfilling or exciting as other service projects I had been a part of during my eight-plus years in SA. But the impression I got was that people were needed, and supply was short. I had some experience being a sponsor by mail myself. I was sensitive to how much of an effect it could have on the life of a person in prison. I prayed and meditated on it, and felt that I could give a bit of my time to the prospect of helping a suffering addict who found himself in one of the most limiting environments.
It took just a little bit of practice, a teaspoon of discipline and organization, and I had a small, growing group of volunteers I was corresponding with who were reaching out and offering the program of hope to these suffering sexaholics. In my acting-out days I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be in a position to carry the message of recovery in this way. I always tell my sponsees that when you really open yourself up to your Higher Power’s guidance, He can do some pretty interesting and amazing things with you.
Before assigning someone a sponsee I would have a chance to read a scan of the inmate’s actual hand-written letter myself. This made me feel closer to what was happening. Not just a postal service worker, as it were, but part of the human chain of love and compassion, extending outward into the world. If I didn’t take up his case, it could be days, weeks maybe even months before it happened. What a responsibility.
I soon started to get excited every time a volunteer Sponsor I was overseeing made contact with a prisoner and was requesting a White Book be sent to him. I could hardly feel comfortable going to sleep at night before forwarding the request to the proper channels. Here was a person sitting in a cell somewhere, waiting for this lifeline, how could I delay? I would think about how long things could take by “snail mail” and how every day could matter, when a person was desperate for assistance. My position in the service chain was cultivating in me a greater empathy and sensitivity. What a wonderful gift I was receiving without having planned for it.
My inner joy increased when I would follow up on the sponsors and hear how their sponsees were progressing through the steps, knowing that I was playing a direct role in what was happening.
Whenever I see a film or TV show that involves prison, I can’t help but think about my excel sheet with the names and letters of people who are being given the gift of light in an often dim and depressing situation. My heart goes out to them. I check my email again to see if anyone has reached out regarding sponsorship by mail before I can sleep soundly.
Being a coordinator for SA sponsorship by mail has been a very enriching and fulfilling addition to my spiritual recovery life. I wholeheartedly recommend that you try it out for yourself. The more people doing it, the easier it becomes to stay on top of things and carry the message more effectively to those who need it. Being a partner with God in connecting people for the good has definitely paid dividends for me in my recovery.
BY: Daniel K | Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel