April 28, 2011
Thursday, 8:30 p.m.
Letter #173: Let God Work It Out
Greetings! These past two weeks have been full of changes for me, and full of some big gifts from God. Thank you for praying for me! The Lord works through you, and it’s always so obvious when He does.
The biggest news is that I’m not scheduled to go to Michigan. The talk for the past many months has been that eventually, we would all be transferred out of this facility, and a new facility (with another company) was being prepared for us in Michigan. It is now common knowledge that I had no desire to be transferred to Arizona. Now, I’d rather be here than in California, because of all the benefits like how I’m treated by staff and all-day-long phone access.
Being shipped off to Michigan—and no offense to my dear friends from that great state—was not what I believed to be best for me. I look forward to regular visits from my family. Michigan would kill that.
So, when a list of those being sent to Michigan came out, I was greatly relieved to find out I’m due to be transferred to another prison here in Arizona. The reason? I get visits. It turns out that the office that oversees us out-of-state prisoners actually listened to our families’ concerns. My dad was faithful to keep bugging them—since last November—about what they planned to do with me. I’m so blessed! Thank you for your prayers!
Many of my close friends, church family, and ministry partners are on the list, and half have packed up and been moved to another housing unit, supposedly awaiting an imminent departure by—they hope—plane. (After a 36-hour drive in handcuffs, my cellie’s hand was numb for two weeks when he was brought here from Mississippi.)
My cellie is on the “next-wave” list that supposedly gets packed up and shipped next. He is glad to go, due to the other prison having better vocational training and a big yard. In fact, hundreds of guys volunteered to go to Michigan once we had heard about the facility.
One guy whose name is on the current “next-wave” list is my old cellie, Luis. Realizing that going to Michigan would mean that his chances of ever getting to see his 8-year-old daughter would greatly diminish (he hasn’t seen her in four years), I asked him if he’d like to get a visit from her … if, say, it was possible for someone to bring her. His enthusiastic response set in motion a crazy chain of events:
First, I called my parents, and of course my mom was willing to pick her up on southern California. Problem is, she would need an approved visitor to escort her to see her dad. We called Luis’ sister (who had been approved for five years, but never visited), and she said she would come, her boyfriend would drive. Checking to see if she was still on his approved list, we found out his mom was approved too! Call to sister again, who wanted to tell her mom. Mom got excited and wanted to come, bringing Luis’ little brother, B.
In all, Luis had five visitors on Sunday! Everyone stayed at his other sister’s house in Phoenix, only an hour away. Now they are trying hard to get Luis removed from the Michigan list.
His dad, who has openly mocked Luis’ conversion to Christianity while incarcerated, has become quite sentimental and kind recently, and wants to get approved to visit, as well as a few other family members and friends.
It was no small miracle that Luis’ daughter was granted permission, last-minute, by her mom to come visit her dad. Now I believe that God is going to work out the details for Luis to stay near his family (5½ hours away) so he can build those important relationships. Please join me in praying for his family, including his father’s salvation.
Another major answer to prayer came for a young couple who are good friends of friends of mine. They’d each assumed the other one had their three-month old, and accidentally left him asleep in his car seat, at noon in Florida.
Charged with manslaughter, they each faced a mandatory 30-year prison sentence—unless they took a plea deal, claiming they intentionally left their baby in the car, in which they’d only have to serve three months each. They turned it down, refusing to lie, even to benefit themselves so greatly.
Sentencing day came. We were praying! Another offer, this one with only the days of prison for the dad, if they would just say it was on purpose. Again, they turned it down!
Finally, a last offer: Involuntary manslaughter; no prison time, 300 hours of community service, and 20 speaking engagements. Praise God! The couple got to be re-united with their 4-and 6-year old children.
A difficult story, and significant answers to prayer.
Hug those you love most!