"An Inside Perspective"

February 2007

My dear family in Christ,

Ever-precious greetings in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ! By the grace of God, I now have a new place of residence and ministry. After three long years in the county jail, and then, thirteen more years in Trenton State Prison, the Lord has seen fit to send me to a new missionary field. I am now gratefully in Rahway State Prison and joyfully anxious to work this field.

Truth be told, the initial transition was traumatic for me. I was so rooted and grounded in Trenton that, at first, it was a very difficult change for me. In Trenton, because of the time I had put in there, I had come to know almost all the officers and most of the prisoners personally. God granted me to find respect and favor among them both. It is written, "And the Lord was with Joseph . . . in the house of his master the Egyptian . . . and Joseph found grace in his sight and served him . . ."

Carlos, the son of my heart, even he who had received from me the "coat of many colors," was sent to another prison. We were in the same cell together for many years. He is the son I never had and I his father. For years, I poured all that the Lord had invested in me, into him, for such a time as this. I had watched him grow from a young boy into a godly man in Christ, that now, others look to for advice. I am very proud of him.

Our parting affected me very deeply. I still remember the look on Carlos' face as they marched him away. A look, I might imagine on the face of Issac as he asked his father Abraham, "Where is the lamb?" I felt the pain of Abraham as he held the knife high above his beloved Issac.

When we were told that we were moving, we got on our knees together and worshipped God on our staffs, from whom, is every good and perfect gift. We prayed to be reunited to serve the Lord together in Rahway, even as Abraham was reunited with Issac after he had given him to God in obedience. More so, even as the Son of God was reunited with His Heavenly Father after his glorious resurrection and victory over sin! One fine day, I pray the Father to send my son back to me, just as Christ ascended, returning with great joy to the presence of His Father.

In Trenton, I was gifted with wonderful, godly relationships in the body of Christ. I loved those men with all my heart and because of all we have been through, I always will. My heart was tearfully rent to leave them.

We had served together for years in the trenches of Trenton. We had lead men to Christ and built up and encouraged each other in our trials. We had worshipped in the beauty of Holiness with our awesome Choir. We got sick and we healed together. We lost loved ones and we saw babies born into our families together. I watched most of my best friends become grandfathers. We prayed together about all things small and large. I saw the hand of God everywhere. God granted me the honor to become the father of many behind those walls. Children who for all of eternity, will own my very heart.

Most importantly, we became men of God together. I watched the Lord shape, chisel, break and mold men---including me. Before my very eyes, the Lord conformed fallen men of the basest sort, often painfully, into holy men of God. I am humbled and honored to have served among them for so long. A privilege I will forever cherish. Though I have been in prison all these years, they are without question, the best years of my life.

When I arrived in Rahway, I was gloriously greeted with open arms of love. By the grace of God, my testimony, much to my surprise, had preceded me. A great many of the men that had left Trenton ahead of me, were now here in Rahway. Yes, the very men I thought not to see again until glory! It seemed that everywhere I turned I was given a loving hug and a welcome embrace. Some men, though I only remembered their face, approached me with testimonies of how I had shared the Lord with them years ago in Trenton. Now by God's grace, they have finally come to know the Lord. To God be all the glory! It is written, "Not unto us oh Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory . . ."

All this has caused me to reflect on how important it is for us to live godly in this present evil age. We are to live as men and women of integrity, walking holy in the Lord. Imagine how I would have felt if I had lived like the devil in Trenton. When I got to Rahway, they would have quickly said, "Here comes that hypocrite." Just as surely as a positive testimony will go before you and bring glory to God, so also, a negative testimony will proceed you to the shaming of His Name.

Beloved, when you get to Heaven, what will your reception consist of? Will people be anxiously awaiting you to tell you how you effected their life on earth for Christ? Or will they say . . .


Joyfully in Jesus,
Fisherman Philip