"An Inside Perspective"

August 2006

My dear family in Christ,

Ever-precious greetings in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ!
It is ninety-eight degrees and sweltering. I am in a cell on the fourth tier that is five by seven feet and solid metal. It is of the similitude of an oven. I am laying on the floor, my face to the bars, with my hand outside the bars, trying to wave some air into my mouth. I am praying for someone to walk by my cell to cause the air to stir, oh precious breeze, come near me, but, no one was giving me anything. It is oppressively hot.

Praise God that was well over a decade ago! The Lord has brought me through all these years and I am now in my sixteenth year of prison missionary service. What a great privilege to serve the Lord, by serving these imprisoned men - - - living amongst them, preaching the Word and encouraging them. I offer a Word of Hope, in a dry and barren land, where there is no hope. Yes Lord, a missionary to the prisons, for that, I am most honored! Please cause me to be faithfully fruitful for your glory alone! It is written, "Not unto us oh Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy and for Thy truth's sake."

During those early years, I learned much about prison. I am grateful for it, but prison food is of another sort, it begs me to fix it, and thus, my need for a good bowl. I remember asking Mother Jane Frank, the founder of this Ministry, to send me a Tupperware bowl for me to cook with. I then asked the Lord, specifically, to send me a bowl 12 inches round and three inches deep. That is the exact size of the bucket that I use to cook in. Mind you, Mother Jane had no idea of what size I needed. The bowl came two weeks later and it was the exact size of the bucket, yes, within an eighth of an inch! If it had not happened to me, I would have found if hard to believe. By grace, I have eaten out of that bowl, everyday, for all these years. My whole walk in Christ, in prison, has been littered by just such examples of God's faithfulness to me in prayer! Hallelujah!

We are today in our thirteenth day of a lock-down. They found a loaded gun and are turning the place upside-down. I will not expound on where the gun came from---we hold these truths to be self-evident. Nonetheless, no matter what happens in here, it is always the prisoner's fault and we are punished severely.

The whole prison now goes into "shake-down mode." From the street, they bring in what are called S.O.P.'s special operations police. Methodically, they then work through the whole prison, wing by wing and cell by cell. Sadly, there is no respect of personal property, on the contrary, they are trying to make a statement. Hence, they randomly take, break or destroy whatsoever they please. It is most rueful for us.

We lay on our bunks for days at a time, hearing rumors from other wings, of their progress through the jail. Fear plays her role, rising in the heart, because we all know you do not have to be guilty to go to the hole. Carlos just spent five full days there, although, completely innocent! You ask yourself, "Do I have, anything I am not supposed to have? Are they coming today?" Also, there are rascal's in here who specialize in pranks. They will yell at the top of their lungs, at five-thirty in the morning, "Here they come!" Everybody then jumps up, half asleep and runs to their bars to put out their mirrors (spy-cams) only to reveal a false alarm! For the next fifteen minutes, the prisoners then administer a verbal thrashing on the prankster, only because he is locked-up, and, they can not deliver it to him physically! Then, the wait begins anew.

During the waiting time, the Lord works on my heart. I have been through innumerable shake-downs. As I mentally run through all the items in my cell, doing a cerebral inventory, I always think of the things that I would least like them to take. During that process, I am shown that which is most treasured by me, even, possible idols. For me, this time, it was my cook-pots. Then I pray, "Lord, please do not take'em." The next day they come full force and as I am shuffled off, I pray, "Lord, I submit afresh, I commit the results to You, tweak my attitude." (smile)

Thirteen hours later, I am returned to my cell. I am looking for my cook-pots. There is a pile of "stuff" in the middle of the floor, looking not quite unlike the results of a tornado. I have a cellmate, but there is only one pile. We sort it all out and clean up. I am looking for my cook-pots. I spend the next eight hours working my way to the bottom of said pile. I am looking for my cook-pots. My t-shirts, sweatpants, gym shorts, underwear, rugs, headphones, sneakers, food, cups, spoons, hangers, soap, toilet paper, etc. are all gone. None of those things really moves my heart. It is just "stuff." I am looking for my cook-pots in vain---the beloved cook-pots are gone! Am I getting a bit too chubby again? Crush . . . Crush!!

Ask yourself, if "they came" to my house, what specific item would I cling to and treasure most---if may be your idol.