VOLUME MAY 2004
May 2, 2004
I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to
swim; I water my couch with my tears.
My father turned 94 years old today. He has lived a healthy
and full life. Presently he is the patriarch of the family. Strong, smart and confident, my dad is one in a million.
Yet while I am glad that he's doing well, inside my heart,
however, is an acute ache. There's a gnawing pain in my soul that never goes away.
It's not a physical pain in the sense of being ill or injured.
Rather, it is the anguish and despair of not being able to be with my father. I miss him, and I wish that I could hug him.
Fortunately, shortly before I had to leave my cell block to
attend this morning's chapel service, I was able to get to a telephone. I called my Dad to wish him a happy birthday. We spoke
for about eight minutes.
I would love to undo my horrible past and have the chance to
relive my life, this time never doing wrong.
If I had the chance to start my life over again, I would make
sure that I honor my parents. I would never again be a source of grief and heartache for them.
"Happy Birthday, Dad".
May 3, 2004
Yesterday I wrote that I was able to telephone my father to
wish him a happy birthday. Then, later in the morning when I arrived at the chapel, my chaplain had already set up all the
elements for our monthly communion celebration.*
As a part of our Sunday worship service and fellowship, usually
during the first Sunday of each month, the congregation partakes of the Lord's Supper. By doing so we honor Jesus Christ for
His atoning sacrifice on the cross as payment for our sins.
For me this is always a special time for self-examination.
As before I take my portion of the bread (matzo) and wine (grapejuice), I would ask the Lord to forgive me of any sins I may
have committed recently. I'd also ask Him to forgive me if there is anyone whom I may have hurt or offended in some manner.
To me, Communion is a time for inner cleansing and for making
things right. It is also a time to renew my love for God.
And as the service progressed, it finally came time for our
visiting minister, Elder Harold Grimble, to give us a sermon. However, when he finished his message, our leader stood up and
called out my name. He then asked me to come to the pulpit. When I did so, he told me to speak to the congregatation and tell
them whatever the Lord had placed on my heart. I was surprised.
So I quickly asked the Holy Spirit's guidance before I opened
my mouth. The Spirit then guided me to give an uplifting message to the brothers because, before the service began, many of
them appeared to be gloomy and feeling down.
I'm certain that many "church folks" who've never lived in
a prison have no comception of what is like to "do time" in such a place. The day to day struggles are enormous. Thus words
of encouragement are so important.
I am not referring to "pep talks" involving pop psychology.
Rather I'm talking about those divine and supernatural words that come forth from the mind of God Himself, as spoken though
the mouths of His servants, that will stir a man's spirit and fill his heart and mind with hope.
So, reluctantly at first, I began to speak about the indwelling
presence of God's spirit in those who've already been born again.
But as I went on, the brothers in the congreagation began to
buoy my spirit with their "Amens" and Hallelujahs".
And God, in turn began to fill me with boldness to speak about
the divine power that is living inside us. It is this power which can help us to overcome all sins, and to obtain victory
over our easily tempted flesh.
I know from being incarcerated for almost 27 years, that many
prisoners hold a negative outlook toward themselves because they've not been successful in life; often they have failed. Prison,
you see, is a place where a man's mistakes are always staring him in the face.
There is self-loathing and self-disgust in many hearts. So
yesterday I spoke to those hearts. I read to them 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power,
and of love, and of a sound mind."
I briefly discussed each of these aspects with the guys, and
how they should apply these words from the Bible to their lives. I was talking to muself, too. I needed to hear this as much
as they did.
May 8, 2004
Earlier today I was talking with a correction officer who made
a comment that the inmates who attend the Christian services seem to be well behaved. According to his observation, these
men do not get into the mischief that many of the other prisoners do.
This officer also commented about the Christian family event
that was held last summer in our large recreation yard. He said the atmosphere was different that day because all the prisoners
and our families were respectful toward each other as well as to the staff. He heard no cussing or swearing which is often
the most frequent vocabulary of convicts. Months later this stuck in his mind.
I believe that views like the ones this officer expressed come
about because the chapel programs that are offered in thousands of correctional facilites are a quiet asset for both the inmates
In the followship I attend, for example, the men who are seriously
trying to live as good Christians seldom break the rules. They no longer want to live as trouble makers or remain in rebellion
to authority. They've changed, and they are better because of it.
Since I became a Christian, for example, I've only received
one "Misbehaviour Report" for a rule violation. This was in 1989 for "disobeying a direct order."
At the time I committed this infraction I was having difficulty
understanding what the officer was telling me to do. In addition, this particular guard is known for "writing up" inmates
at every opportunity.
But other than this one incident, for which I did indeed break
a rule and subsequently received a punishment of fifteen days confinement to my cell, my disciplinary record has been excellent.
My work evaluations have been just as good. And this was not the case before I gave my life to Christ.
Many of my fellow inmates have likewise accomplished the same
things. They 've managed to stay out of trouble because Jesus touched their lives.
Yet while many negative comments are often said about "jailhouse
religion" by obviously ignorant and misinformed people, prison administrations quietly and greatly benefit by having a variety
of Christian programs available for those who are confined.
May 9, 2004
MOTHERS AND SORROWS
Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.
Today is Mother's Day. So as expected, a portion of this morning's
worship service in the chapel was devoted to talking about our mothers and honoring them,
Shortly after our service began, the minister gave the opportunity
for each of us to briefly say something about our mothers, if we wanted to.
Many of us shared how our mothers were a blessing to us and
that we worry over not being able to be with them at this time. However, an almost equal number of the men stood up, one by
one, to express their sorrow and disappointment at not having loving and caring moms.
For the latter group, feelings of bitterness and anger clearly
surfaced as they talked about having mothers who were abusive to them. They told of being abandoned by moms who were drug
addicts or alcoholics.
A couple of the prisoners spoke of being rejected by their
mothers, only to get passed around from one family to another while they were in foster care.
Several more spoke about beatings and the experience of being
One man told us that his mother would lock him out of their
apartment during the nights she slept with different men. He would then be forced to wander the streets or slip into buildings
to sleep in deserted basemants. He never knew who his father was, and neither did his mom.
In this place live men who grew up watching their parents shoot
drugs into their veins. They saw their mothers vomit into sinks and toilets as they slowly drank themselves into oblivion,
leaving behind emotionally damaged sons who now fill prison cells.
Sad stories. But God taught me something today. I need to have
more sensitivitiy and discernment to recognize those who are hurting.
I say this because many of them have been attending our Christian
fellowship for years, yet I never knew about their bad expeiences. I never sensed the pain they are carrying around on the
For whatever reason, perhaps because of pride, fear or denial
these men hid their hearts. They kept silent, as men often do.
I realized my own mistakes in all this. Now I must begin to
look behind the superficial smiles and see the real persons I am ministering to.
Interestingly, I did not hear one man blame his parents for
the crimes ha;s committed. But I do believe that the misfortunes each man experinced during his childhood helped to form at
least a few pieces for the mosaic that makes him what he is today.
And it should be of no surprise, I think that boys who have
been wounded early in life would some day grow up to in turn wound others. Likewise, that those who received very little love
in their youth would never fully learn how to love others so as not to hurt them.
Nevertheless, when our time of sharing was finished, the minister
wisely asked all of us to pray for those in our midst who have experienced great pain through such abusinve realtionships.
So in Jesus name we openly renounced all anger, animosity and bitterness toward mothers who may have been cruel and irresponsible,
and who failed in their roles as a parent.
The for those of us who have loving moms, we prayed that they
would forgive us for the hurt and pain we caused them by our own selfish actions.
We also prayed for our wives, daughters and grandmothers. God
touched many hearts today.
May 22, 2004
A VISIT FROM DEATH
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this
Death visited the prison yesterday evening. It was not the
first time he was here, and it will not be the last.
Almost always an unwanted guest, he seldom if ever announces
his arrival. He just comes to take a soul, and he does his work quickly.
On May 21, shortly after 8 p.m. a man by I will call Leroy
Green (pseudonym), felt tightness in his chest as he was playing handball in the recreation yard. He thn found a correction
officer who was patrolling the yard, and he told the officer that he needed to return to his cell toget his asthma pump. Apparently
Leroy made his way to his cell where he laid down on his bunk and died. A guard making his rounds found him a short time later.
Leroy then made his way to his cell where he laid down on his
bunk and died. A guard making his rounds found him a short time later.
The other inmates in Leroy's housing unit were not even aware
he was having a problem. Most of them were watching television in the dayroom area when Leroy expired. They heard nothing.
But when he was discovered a "Code Blue" was sounded. A team
of officers carried Leroy to the Infirmary. The nurse on duty asked that an Emergency Medical Unit be dispatched to the prison.
This is a routine procedure. Leroy, however, was dead for awhile.
Today, as expected, the entire prison was abuzz with the news
of Leroy's passing. He had been in prison for a long time and he was known by almost everyone, although he was not liked by
The thing that troubled me the most about Leroy was that while
he regularly attended our Sunday worship services, aIthough I did not know where his heart was concering Jesus Christ.
My Christian friends and I, as we discussed this unfortunate
aituation, all agreed amongst ourselves that while we liked Leroy---he was very closest to some of us---we're uneasy about
Leroy was one of those men who lived a wild life in here. He
loved to be involved in everything from the daily prison gossip to dealing in contraband, although it was never anything serious
like drugs or weapons.
He was primarily a cigarette hustler, buying and trading tobacco
for gain, and he was a gambler, too.
None of the dozens of sermons he had surely heard over the
years were able to get Leroy to change the direction of his life. Now he's dead.
None of the dozens of sermons he had surely heard over the
years were able to get Leroy to change the direction of his life. Now he's dead.
There will be the traditional memorial service for Leroy that
will be conducted by my chaplain. This will probably bappen next week.
Leroy's body will be gone by then. Most likely it's in the
County Medical Examiners Office right now awaiting the standard autopsy as required by New York State law any time a person
dies in a correctional facility.
Fortunately Leroy has family on the outside. They will claim
his body. He will not end up on our potter's field.
But his soul? Only God knows where it is.
May 26, 2004
For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west,
nor from the south. But God is the judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another.
I did not write about a prophecy that had been made about me
as I thought it important to wait for the prophecy to manifest itself. Now it has come to pass.
Back on March 14, Reverend Mackey, who visits my facility every
second Sunday of each month, summoned me to the front of the chapel. Then, as he and I stood before the entire congregation,
he placed his hands on my head, looked at me, and spoke "words from the Lord".
Reverend Mackey told the church that our current pastor, "Brother
Taylor", would soon be leaving, and that I was to be the next leader of our fellowship.
I was surprised, and I had mixed feelings about the news. Pastor
Taylor, who is an inmate like me, has been here for fourteen years. He, along with my Chaplain, have been my mentors.
Brother Taylor and I are very close. I consider him to be a
vital part of my life.
He and I have been through all kinds of difficult sutuations
together. We've prayed for each other and for our families countless times. And we have done our best to encourage one another
to go forward in our faith.
Now, however, Pastor Taylor is moving on. He's doing a prison
sentence of 20 years to life. But he has approximately two years remaining until he is eligible for parole.
Earlier today, though, the official order was given that Pastor
Taylor is to be transferred. His security classification was lowered to a "medium" level by the Department of Corrections
Central Office in Albany.
Thus when he got the news about his transfer he then had to
gather his belongings and pack them for tormorrow's trip to another prison.
Although I was expecting this to happen eventually, the news
hit me hard. Aside from being my pastor, he is also my friend and confidant.
By tomorrow Brother Taylor will be on a bus headed for a new
place. I of course may never see him again until we're both in heaven.
In any event, during this evening's Bible study, the 25 or
so men who were in attendance, including Pastor Taylor, all gathered around me as per his instructions.
Then at his behest, every man that was present reached his
hands toward me to pray for me. I was officially anointed and appointed to be their new leader.
I do not believe, however, that I will ever be able to fill
Pastor Taylor's shoes. He's an extremely gifted minister and preacher, and he is deeply loved by the men.
Yet during this time of prayer, Brother Taylor put his invisible
spiritual mantle upon me. He also gave me his fullest blessings.
And so begins still another chapter in my life. I have just
At this moment I am completely overwhelmed. For the past several
weeks I've been feeling exhausted. I was even planning to take a week off to get physically refreshed and spiritually revived.
Now, however, I am being thrust forward to the very first position
on the frontline in the battle for souls, and the corresponding battle against Satan and the powers of darkness that's being
waged in this place.
In addition, becoming the pastor wil mean that more demands
will be place upon me. So my prayer is that God would guide and protect me. My strength must come from Him alone. I pray,
too, that my faith does not fall.
I am also asking Jesus to humble my heart. I want to be the
best that I can be for both the Lord, and for my brethren. I am but a servant to all men.
May 30, 2004
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than
of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus
1 Peter 1:7
I am thankful for the prayers that people say in my behalf
because, especially since the Focus on the Family interview was aired this past March, the spiritual warfare against me has
increased dramaticallly. It is also coming from different areas all at once: I do not believe this to be coincidence.
A few friends who I have known for many years have walked out
of my life. All kinds of temptations have been assailing me. My mind has been overwhelmed with lustful thoughts which I have
been praying against in the name of Jesus.
In addition, on May 21 there was the unexpected death of a
member of my church. On may 26 my friend and pastor,
"Brother Taylor," was informed that he was scheduled to be
transferred to a different prison. He left the following day leaving me to pastor and nurture the flock. He also left me with
a mountain of responsibilities.
Furthermore, a mysterious woman, whom I believe may be involved
in the occult, has been trying to gain entry into the facility to visit me.
She first showed up on May 7th. I was at work on this Friday
afternoon when an officer told me that I had a visit. I wasn't expecting anyone. Therefore I immediately after he said this
I began to pray silently. Something was not right. I felt uneasy.
I then walked over to the officer's desk and explained my concern
that someone had come to see me unannounced. He then called the visiting room, which is at the opposite end of the prison,
to get the person's name. It was a name I did not recognize.
I sensed danger. So I told the officer at my work area that
I would not be going to the visiting room. He in turn told this to the guard who was in charge of surpervisiong the visiting
area, while I went back to my job.
But this persistent person was going to try one more time.
This on Saturday, May 15, she returned to the facility and went into the visiting area.
I was in my cell block when, approximately one o'clock in the
afternoon, the officer who was in charge called out my name. He said I had a visitor waiting for me. However, as before, I
was not expecting anyone. I also began to feel uneasy again.
This time, though, I went down to the visiting room. Without
going inside, I explained the situation to the officer who was assigned to the inmates entry door. He was very understanding.
He also told me that t he lady who was in the room looked "unstable" and that she "seemed to be possessed by something".
I'm so glad that God's Spirit guides my steps and that I have
enough discernment to hear His voice.
Several days later, my actions were confirmed to have been
wise. For I was able to speak with two of the guards who saw this woman and spoke to her; they were assigned to the visiting
room on the days she happened to come.
Both correction officers concurred between themselves that
this person did not appear to be mentally balanced. One of them added that she appeared to be "someone who is in the grip
of a cult".
Situations such as this, of course, put additional stress upon
me. I know that Satan has tried to make inroads into my life in order to distract, confuse, and weaken me. His goal is to
destroy my testimony.
Without exaggeration, each day my life as a Christian involves
some form of spiritual warfare.
Indeed I am walking through "the valley of the shadow of death".
Yet God is with me. As Psalm 23 says in part, God's rod and His staff are always present to comfort and sustain me.
Even in the midst of many fiery trials and difficult situations,
I possess God's peace. And it is a peace which passes all human comprehension.
Thus with Satan's arrows flying at me from every direction,
I can continue to walk with confidence and not be intimidated. The Lord is my protector and He fights my battles. God is on
my side. I will not fear what people can do to me.