August 27, 2010
Friday, 10:00 a.m.
Letter #148: Whether by Life or Death, May Christ Be Glorified
Greetings! I hope and pray you are well and growing in the knowledge of God. Isn’t that what’s important? Never resting or slacking in our faith, but instead “pressing on” and “fighting the good fight.” Sometimes God allows circumstances in our lives that make us uncomfortable—to kick us off of the spiritual couch we’ve attached our rear ends to and get us to “run the race with endurance.”
I’m not a huge fan of confrontation. In fact, I typically avoid it as much as is possible. But, the truth is, confrontations are really opportunities God allows for me to be tested and tried—that I would become more like Him.
Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work, in theory. (Like when I raised my voice at officers last week when my “rights” were violated. (Read Letter) I kinda failed that test to be Christ-like.) 🙂 Well, I have had more opportunities to respond correctly this past week. It seems as if God is getting me ready for even bigger challenges in the future. I can’t wait.
You all know by now that I’m fairly open about my case. When God gives an open door to share with someone, I’m ready to tell what He is doing in my life now and what I believe He wants me to do in the future, to help others.
My goal? That whether I live or die, Christ is glorified. And, if by my life, I can help prevent even one more child from being abused, then it will be worth whatever uncomfortableness I may face. Because, thanks to the Sensitive Needs Yard (SNY) prison population I’m housed with, no one needs to EVER say why they’re in prison. Most never say anything about it, and in that way, they know that no one will ever say anything negative to them or threaten them. Thus, anyone with a “dirty” crime (against women or children) can choose, by their silence, to never be bothered or hassled.
On the “mainline” (General Population, or GP) yards, showing your court documents (or “paperwork”) is mandatory. Everyone knows everyone else’s business, and great credibility is given to those who have murdered multiple people or someone famous. But life is frequently unbearable for those with crimes like mine—stabbings, beatings, and murder are all-too-common, and suicide is often a way out.
Well, I’m grateful to be in a place where I can be free to express my love of God, and I can reach out to others in need to help them grow. This week, however, a few guys in my pod were overheard discussing me and why I’m here. I’ve told nearly all the men in my pod, but one guy who heard about me for the first time started acting tough and making threats. Freddie, who overheard, immediately confronted the guys and defended me, telling how I’ve changed.
When I met with Freddie the next morning for our daily Bible Study time, he let me know he was worried about me and that he kept defending me. I thanked him for his concerns and reminded him that I’ve only done what God has asked me to do when I share my crimes with someone. Therefore, I know that the reputation of the old self is hidden in Christ, washed by the blood, and my reputation now is His, and Freddie did not need to come to my defense.
I then went to a couple of the guys who had been discussing my case and (since they’d told me they wouldn’t talk about my case) told them that I understood why they’d want to talk about it. I just asked that they would keep in mind my goals for sharing it—that others would possibly be benefitted, and they apologized to me.
I still have some relationship-building to do, and I’m not under the delusion that everyone in the world must love me or accept me, but I want to have the biggest impact I can. My responses to being “mistreated”—as in, when others get angry while playing basketball, or when someone put pigeon poop in my drink—are vital to my testimony. I want others to see Christ in me!
I know that life won’t be all roses for me when I exit prison, and I know that I have many exciting years ahead of me before then. I believe God is carefully preparing me for what I’ll face in the future, and I’m grateful for the boot camp I’m going through. I only pray that in my responses to mocking, hate, or mistreatment, that Christ is clearly seen. I pray that in some small way, the light of the gospel would shine through my life.
I praise God for several new guys who attended a church service this week, whom I invited. We had to use an overflow room, since the chapel was full! A total of over 15 new guys came to church, praise God! The fields are white unto harvest! This time … don’t pray for any more workers to come into these fields. We have plenty. 🙂