Miriam Buss: Merciful Ministry

Miriam Buss and her husband, Orville, invited a newly released convict to live in their home more than 50 years ago

Sometimes the actions we take require a leap of faith. Imagine if that leap involved inviting a newly released convict to live in your home.

That is exactly what Miriam Buss, a resident at Oakhaven Community, a UCH affordable senior housing community in Bremen, Indiana, and her husband, Orville, did more than 50 years ago. They chose to get engaged — seriously, personally engaged — with a prison ministry. Practicing radical hospitality, they opened their hearts and their home to people no one else would trust.

The Buss’ ministry began with a visit, with others from their church, to an Indiana State Prison in Michigan City around Christmas. Miriam saw a man who looked to be close to her son’s age, and was soon engaged in conversation. The conversation didn’t end that day. When the inmate was released, Miriam and Orville helped him find a job, and invited him to live on their property until he was back on his feet.

When called upon by God to act, Miriam leapt.

For more than 10 years she and her husband mentored prisoners, wrote letters, visited often and shared God’s word. She’s unsure of how many people they helped, but it most certainly numbered in the dozens. In addition, Miriam invited two men to live in their home, despite the crimes they had committed. Where others might have drawn a line, Miriam could not turn a blind eye to people who needed help.

“God loves you, regardless,” Miriam said. “There’s a lesson there for all of us.”

Not all of Miriam’s experiences turned out positively, or like she expected, but she was never afraid of the men who lived at her home. In many respects, her decision was part of a larger legacy. Miriam’s grandfather had first taught her about ministering to prisoners. He was a local pastor who taught her all people need to hear God’s word.

God’s love knows no bounds. That’s the message she brought to her prison ministry. Her purpose was to teach those she met that God could, and did, love them right where they were. Not everyone would be so bold. But Miriam couldn’t fathom doing anything else.

While her husband passed away in the 1990’s, Miriam continues to display her kindness to friends and neighbors at Oakhaven. She’s compassionate to the core, shining and reflecting God’s light in every way.

I was in prison and you came to visit me … whatever you did for one of the least of my brothers, you did for me.

Matthew 25:36, 40