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When OCPM founder, Fr. Duane Pedersen, began corresponding with Michael in prison, Michael was quick to say he preferred if Fr. Duane would stop writing about God. Despite showing no indication that his heart was changing, Fr. Duane faithfully wrote to him week after week, year after year.
After twenty years of correspondence, Fr. Duane received a surprising letter. “I want to be baptized into the Orthodox Faith.”
But this was only the beginning. Soon Fr. Duane received something even more surprising than Michael’s wish to be baptized: Michael’s first icon. This was unlike any icon Fr. Duane had ever seen before, and not just because Michael had written it with a set of crayons, the only tools available to him.
Michael lived in solitary confinement.To paint the Face of Christ he used the only model he had: his own face. And what did Michael name this icon? “God of All-Comfort.”
Shortly after Fr. Duane received this icon, Michael’s health rapidly declined, and soon he fell asleep in the Lord. In the wake of Michael’s passing, Fr. Duane began printing copies of “God of All Comfort” to send to other prisoners, many of whom were freed from years of addictions by praying with it.
Truly, Michael’s icon speaks to all of us. Are we willing to see the face of Christ in the faces of those in prison? Are we willing to believe, as Michael did, that Christ dwells in each of us, as near to us as our own reflection? Do we sincerely believe each one of us is an icon of Christ?
Especially during this holy season of Great Lent, thank you for your support to OCPM, enabling us to personally minister to thousands of spiritually hungry “icons of Christ,” like Michael, for decades at a time. Your donations train Orthodox clergy and laity to work alongside Christ–-to find His beloved in prisons across the U.S. and for His beloved to find Him. And once those in prison can see Christ as clearly as Michael did, there is no telling how far Christ’s healing will spread.