"An Inside Perspective"

November 2003


My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! About five years ago, I began to notice some blood when I would blow my nose. Finally, I went to the medical department, and after some testing, I was diagnosed with tumors in the back of my nose. Not knowing was the hardest part for me, were they malignant or benign? In that type of situation it seems our faith is assailed with doubts and we often imagine the worst.

It took about four months and I was finally scheduled to go to the hospital. The morning of the trip I was up early paving my way to prayer: "Lord, let Thy will be done, guide the hands of the surgeon, pick out the men that will be in the room with me, and cause me Lord to have opportunities to share Your Word."

Later that morning, I was called by the officer and taken downstairs in the prison. I was stripped naked, for an intimate inspection, which is always very humbling, even after hundreds of times. I was shackled hand and foot and then shuffled out and put in the transport van. On the way to the hospital, I was re-acquainted with the hustle and bustle of everyday city life as I stared out the window like a kid at a candy store. I saw children on their way to school, construction workers vying their trades, trees, grass and smells of every sort. Ordinary things, that used to mean nothing to me, were now quickened in value as I realized their absence from my life. Never again will I take anything for granted.

Upon arrival at the hospital, I was placed in a room with four other prisoners of various ages. That night, I had the privilege to share the gospel with them and to testify of the mercy God in my life. The next day I was taken in for surgery and, by the grace of God, all went well, the tumors were benign. When I came out of the anesthesia, my whole face was swollen and I looked much like the elephant man.

At one point in my recovery the Lord allowed me to be tested. One of the men in the room with me was about 30 years old and almost completely paralyzed. I had been speaking to him and he could understand but he could not respond. Suddenly he began making grunting noises to get my attention. I went over to his bed and I was able to discern that he wanted the nurse. Mind you we are locked in a prison ward and I, the elephant man, am trying to help the paralyzed man. I pushed and pushed the "nurse button" but no one came. He was grunting and groaning and finally, much to my dismay, I realized he had to go to the bathroom! My stars, what next Lord? Frantically I pushed the "nurse button" but to no avail. I thought, "What's really going on Lord? Bed-pan? Me? Another man? Lord---I know you are Lord of all the nurses too, could you please send one right now!"

No nurse, I am now resolved in my heart, I will serve this man and meet him at his point of need. Isn't that what I am always preaching? Alas, "...who knows if I did not come into the Kingdom for such a time as this?" (smile)

I find the dreaded bed-pan and walk over to him. We have some serious eye contact---we know what must be done. I gently lift him onto the bed-pan and guide him through his business. His eyes follow me, closely, every step of the way and I, only then, realize who it is that must do the clean up! It is written, "...but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves." The Lord has already given me the heart "to will and to do" so I find some hot water and towels and in the love of the Lord, I wipe him clean.

There was a new appreciation in his gaze now, even a grateful receptivity that I had not seen before. I realized that the Lord had indeed answered my prayer by allowing me to share the gospel in word and in deed. My eye contact with this man was deep and intense. More was said to him by that one deed than I could have ever preached in a thousand anointed sermons.

Later, as I reflected, I came to understand that what I had done for that man, is indeed, just what the Lord had done for sinners. Is not our sin as dung before a Holy God? Were we not all paralyzed and helpless in our trespasses and sins? It is written, "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." On our own, we could do nothing to rid ourselves of the stench and stain of sin. Yet the Lord, who is rich in mercy, met us at the point of our need. He brought out the hot water and towels of grace and wiped us clean of our sin by the precious blood of Christ. He stooped and we received Eternal Life!

I wonder, do we shy away from the homeless, the downtrodden, the orphan, the widows, the elderly, even prisoners struggling in the dung of their own sin? Do we bring them the gospel of grace in both word and deed or are we still pushing the "nurse button" frantically hoping someone else will come and do it for us? It is written, "...verily I say unto you, inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me."

Joyfully in Jesus,
Love Phillip

"Remember Those In Prison, As if Chained to Them."