VOLUME JUNE 2006 a
June 2, 2006
Yesterday was my birthday. It was also a day that I moved to
a different cellblock. Although, in a way, one could say that the move was merely coincidental, I saw it as a give from God.
I needed a change of environment, and I had been praying for it. And after several months of quiet waiting, yesterday afternoon
as officer informed me that I was being ordered to go to the D-North housing unit. At the time I had been living in D-South.
D-North and D-South are both a part of the prison’s "general
population". In addition, I could continue to work during the afternoons as a "Program Assistant" at the facility’s
Intermediate Care Program (D-North).
D-North and D-South are both a part of the prison’s "general
population". But because I have returned to working as a "mobility guide" for the sight-impaired men, by relocating to D-North
I can now be with these physically handicapped men all the time. In addition, I cold continue to work during the afternoons
as a "Program Assistant" at the facility’s Intermediate Care Program (E-North).
As of this moment, however, most of my belongings are still
in boxes and bags. I have a lot more cleaning to do before I finish unpacking.
And having to pack, move, and then unpack is exhausting. Nevertheless,
I rejoice because my prayers were answered, and on my birthday, no less! In addition, a second prayer was also answered. For
when I got the notice that I was going to a new location, I asked the Lord for the miracle of "paint". But this is another
story which I plan to write about tomorrow.
VOLUME JUNE 2006 b
NO LONGER BOUND
Today I attended a spiritually uplifting and refreshing event
in the chapel. A ministry group from New Jersey which consisted of four people (three women and a man) spent ten hours with
my chaplain and about 50-55 inmates for a time of Christian fellowship, prayer, Bible reading, singing, and encouragement.
Officially this even was called a "retreat."
Our time together went from 10:00 a.m. to 8: p.m. I had to
go to the chapel about an hour before the event started to help six other men set up extra chairs and our equipment. We have
our own electronic sound system that the prisoners purchased with our own money. And we use it for all our worship services.
And then I volunteered to stay for an hour after the event was over to help clean the chapel and put our equipment away.
While this was a physically tiring day, it was worth the extra
effort. God used our guests to help empower our lives for greater degrees of Christian service.
Right now, however, it is a little past 10 o’clock in
the evening. I’ve already taken my shower and I am going to get ready for bed. Because tomorrow is Sunday I’ll
be getting up around 5:30 in order to prepare for the worship service as well as for the additional chapel activities that
The name our guests titled the retreat was "No Longer Bound".
Today god reminded me that I am indeed "free" in Christ, and I am no longer bound by Satan, nor by the chains of sin.
June 20, 2006
Larry is a man who is very special to me. One cannot help but
like him. He is schizophrenic and mentally challenged. Although he’s in his 50s there’s a childlike demeanor to
Larry would often be seen waddling along the prison’s
corridors in a penguin-like manner as he goes back and forth to an area of the facility near the Infirmary where the psychotropic
medications are administered. And he always has a disheveled appearance even when he puts on clean clothes.
Larry has been in prison for almost twenty-five years. During
a time when he was strung-out on cocaine he committed a brutal and senseless crime. Somehow a 5’6" Larry with a medium
build and stooping shoulders that cause his head to tilt slightly forward like that of an old man, managed to wrestle a police
officer’s service revolver away from him, and then used it to take the officer’s life. The judge who presided
over Larry’s criminal case obviously took pity on Larry because he received a sentence of twenty years to life, as opposed
to the maximum sentence which could have been handed out: 25-years to life for murder in the 2nd degree.
The parole board, however, has taken no pity on Larry. He’s
already made two appearances before them, and each time he was given the standard two year "hit". Although many of the prison’s
staff think Larry should be paroled to a psychiatric facility, there’s little chance of this happening.
On some days the ICP Unit inmates are allowed to go to the
recreation yard for an hour to ninety minutes, if the weather permits it. Since I work with these men as a care-giver and
Program Aid, I too must go along with them when they go outdoors.
And today was such a day. The sun was brightly shining. So
when the ILCP Unit men and I entered the yard it felt as if we were stepping into a hot oven. As for Larry, to everyone’s
amazement, he came outdoors in winter gear. He was wearing a woolen watch cap and his prison issued coat. As expected, several
of the guys teased him about it.
Sadly, Larry is out of sync with everything, even with the
seasons. His illness seems to have put him in another world. Oftentimes, as I’d walk by his cell, I’d see him
talking to himself. He has a tendency to misplace his belongings, too. And Larry needs frequent supervision to make sure he
leaves h is cell during mealtimes, and that he takes daily showers.
I’ve known Larry for many years. Awhile back he was able
to go to church with me. Over time, however, his condition worsened to where he cannot attend the worship services or Bible
studies. But he will allow me to read the Bible to him. On occasion, when Larry wants me to pray for him he would tap his
forehead gently as a signal for me to place a hand on the spot and say a prayer.
Fortunately, Larry still has a few family members who’ve
remained in touch with him even though he’s to ill to compose a letter. He has his mother and a sister. Yet I do believe
that God has His hands upon Larry’s life. I am confident that whatever Larry may face in the future, Jesus will put
caring people in his path. They’ll be there to help him.
And when today’s recreation period came to an end and
we began to line up by the yard door in order to go back to the ICP cell block, Larry noticed that his coat was missing. Then
someone spotted it lying on a bench at the far end of the ball field. I therefore asked the officer who was in charge of us
if I could retrieve it, and he said yes. So I ran across the yard, picked up Larry’s moldy old coat, and ran back to
the door. He was glad to see it, and he was relieved that no one stole it.
I doubt if anyone would want to steal Larry’s smelly
coat. Apparently he had simply taken it off at some point, and then forgot where he left it. This is typical of Larry. He’s
very disorganized. After all, a man who dresses for winder in the middle of the summer, is a man who’s lost his mind.
VOLUME JUNE 2006 c
For all the promises of god in Him are yea, and in Him Amen,
unto the glory of god by us.
2 Corinthians 1:20
This morning I felt God’s presence. Even before the worship
service began, when the congregation’s leaders and choir members gathered together in a nearby classroom as we do every
Sunday morning before church to pray and call upon the Lord, we sensed that a powerful force was with us. The room felt energized.
Even our individual prayers and our heartfelt pleadings to the Lord sounded louder than usual, as if we were a bunch of hungry
baby birds crying for our parents to come and drop food into our mouths.
And shortly after this, when we left the classroom and as we
entered the chapel as the place was filling with men, this same presence seemed to follow us. It stayed throughout the service
As for myself, even though I’ve been going through a
period of physical and emotional exhaustion, today I was uplifted. I still feel tired and drained of energy, of course. But
I know that deep within my soul something has changed for the better.
Actually every part of our service appeared to come alive.
From the congregational prayer at the beginning of our meeting, to the Scripture readings, and on to the choir’s singing
and the preacher’s sermon, everything seemed energized and anointed. It was a blessed time.
June 27, 2006
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
1 John 4:11
Recently I received a letter from a friend who told me that
he’s troubled because those who attend the church he belongs to don’t seem to display genuine love and concern.
He lamented that many in his congregation seem remote and unfriendly.
So when I answered his letter, I told my friend that it’s
to bad he cannot attend the fellowship I belong to which consists of a chaplain and several dozen prisoners. For if he could
attend, I told him he’d be pleasantly surprised to find a lot of love here.
We’re always embracing one another with hugs and handshakes.
We likewise try to look out for and help each other, within the limitations of the correctional setting, of course.
Nevertheless, if I could boast about the men in my congregation,
these guys are doing what every church member is supposed to do; they’re showing Christian love.
And as for why the prison’s chapel is a place where love
and compassion about, it is simply because, as Jesus said, "He who has been forgiven of much, loves much. While to who little
is forgiven, loves little" (Luke 7:36-50)
Most probably, therefore, we who are incarcerated for crimes,
after having experienced God’s forgiveness, are perhaps better able not only to love the Lord, but to love our neighbors
VOLUME JUNE 2006 d
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have
peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have over come the world.
It ‘s happened before, and it has happened again. People
with their own plans and agendas have somehow gotten close to me, posing as caring Christians, only to eventually show themselves
as having additional motives other that friendship.
As I’ve said many times, we who serve Him with hearts
of love, will on occasion be accosted by "false" brethren, those proverbial "wolves in sheep’s clothing".
This, unfortunately, is part of the Christian’s walk.
And it is only by the grace of God, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and by a knowledge of what the Bible says, that will
help a Christian to avoid the pitfalls and traps Satan has set for him.
The Bible says that the devil is a destroyer. He will kill
me if he could, and he’s always seeking for ways to neutralize my testimony. Sadly, he will even use other Christians.
And with t his in mind, I know have to deal with an "enemy
in the camp". Several close friends, have, it appears, allowed an unbeliever, a media person, to enter the fold. Now, as a
result of this, trouble may be developing for me in the near future.
I am of course, very disappointed by what these supposed friends
have done. I forive them, yet I’ve also had to ask the Lord to remove some bitterness which crepte into my heart as
a result of their actions. But this is a potentially bad situation..They had no right to share my private llife with a stranger
who only sought to develop a relationship with tem for his own gain.
I have been betrayed, and it hurts. I’d be lying if I
said it’s no big deal. Now my relationship with these friends has been altered. Nevertheless, the fact is, they sold
me out. And as the pieces come together, I am seeing their level of deception more clearly.
They cultivated a friendship with me, and used to name of "Jesus",
with the hopes of furthering their own goals. Unfortunately there are people who try to attach themselves to me so that their
own names could become known within the Christian community.
The people who befriended and ultimately deceived me, I believe,
wanted to be seen. So, sadly, they resorted to seeking out a Christian who is popular. And this kind of victimization comes
with the territory . Now, however, I must cut them loose. They’ve been exposed as "counterfeits".
Moreover, as the situation unfolds, I know I am going to learn
many deeper things about spiritual warfare. I am confident that, no matter what damage may come to me as a result of media
distortions, God will ultimately get the glory from my life because I belong to Him. Jesus has a plan for me that, while it
may be delayed, will one day come to pass. Hallelujah!
June 30, 2006
This morning I was in an area of the facility which has classrooms
and offices for the inmates who are in the Sensorial Disabled Unit. These are the men who are sight-impaired. And there’s
also another classroom in the same area for the men from the prison’s general population, who while not legally blind,
are learning sign language.
And it was in the empty sign language class that I parked myself
because at the time it was not being used. I needed to stay here for several h ours because the blinds prisoner I was escorting
had to attend his class in the room next door. So I had to be near him and on standby duty in case he needed my assistance
Then, after I had been sitting by myself in the empty classroom
catching u p on my reading, a man I’ll call Rodney* entered in. Rodney once was an active member of in infamous and
very dangerous street gang. Fortunately, however, a handful of years ago he slowly began to detach himself from the gang.
Well Rodney sat down next to me and began to talk. He was happy,
he said, because he recently received a letter from his sixteen year old daughter, who he hadn’t heard from in fourteen
Rodney explained that she was only a little baby when he came
to prison. And as a result of his lengthy sentence—Rodney has at least fifty years to do—his wife divorced h him
and took his daughter and disappeared. For all these years, he said, Rodney had no idea where his ex-wife and daughter lived.
He had lost contact with them.
Anyhow, according to Rodney, his parents happen to be Christians
who had been praying for something like this to happen. As it turned out, Rodney explained, one day his daughter, who had
been curious about her father for many years, decided to search for him on the internet. Then when she found out he was here,
she got the address of the prison and wrote. Rodney nearly fainted, he said, when he saw the name on the return address of
her first letter.
And when his ex-wife found out that her daughter tracked down
her father, she too decided to write. Now they’re all back in tough, and they’ve made their peace. But Rodney
said they won’t be getting married again however.
Listening to Rodney tell it brought tears to my eyes. I’m
happy for him. Yet his story reminded me that I had lost contact with my half-sister more than twenty-seven years ago. I have
not idea where she is, and I miss her very much.
I told Rodney that I needed to hear his story because, unbeknownst
to him I’ve been going though a difficult time of grief and anguish because I have been betrayed by several persons
whom I thought were close friends. Thankfully, though today my spirit was lifted a bit as I listened to Rodney’s tale
*Rodney is not his real name,