August 11, 2011
Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
Letter #186: When God Prompts, Just Do It
Somebody has been praying for me, and I’m grateful! I’m so overwhelmed right now with God’s love for me. His passion for me! is what motivates me, drives me, pushes me, compels me to live out loud for Him. I am not ashamed of His Name, but I sure act like it sometimes. I mean, the guy sitting next to me or walking to the chow hall with me or passing me in my dayroom (Wow! That sounds like I’m living in a HUGE mansion—“Let’s have tea in my dayroom, dahling, overlooking the pool and sundeck, shall we?”), well that guy has tons of tattoos. All over his face. Is the best opening line really, “Hey, um, Jesus loves you, Bro!”? Not usually. But we are to be known by our love. When I truly care about that guy, creepy as he looks, I’ll take time with him.
Several months ago, I mentioned a guy named Michael and said I’d write about him later. So as not to distract you from the rest of what I’d written, I left out his last name—Jackson—no, not that guy. Well, he’d lived in my pod for a year, but we were never close. He ran with a bad crowd and was always getting into wrong activities, like tattooing both of the tops of his feet with large Nike swooshes—I guess so he can rock his Nike Bare Air footwear no matter if he’s at the beach or not. (Note to other do-it-yourselfers: Tat one foot at a time. His feet swelled up and he couldn’t walk for three days.)
Well, I kept being nice to MJ, and one day he approached me while one of us was drunk (hint: it wasn’t me) and asked me some deep questions. He was feeling remorse for the hundreds of break-ins he’d committed and wanted to know if there was any hope for someone like him. He turned towards the wall as tears flowed out, and I put my arm around his skinny shoulders. He confided in me why he was back in prison—something he’d told no one else, and I encouraged him to go to church.
I told myself I needed to have a sit-down (sober) talk with him about giving his whole life to God, but days passed, and I never did. Then we moved, and Michael Jackson was gone. I felt bad. He kept coming to mind, so I prayed for him the other day, asking God’s forgiveness for not being obedient to His promptings and not really caring about people. I asked God to send someone to talk to him.
The very next day, we passed each other at the chow hall. He’s housed on a completely different compound than me, so this was the first time I’d seen him in several months. I yelled out to him that I’d just been thinking about him and praying for him. An elder in our church here, who is in my pod, works in the chow hall and will look for him to encourage him. Forgiven by God for neglecting the Spirit’s promptings, I’m purposing to speak up when God wants me to speak up.
I’m still very much involved in exit strategy planning with whomever God sends me. My goal of one per month has turned into four just this week, with two scheduled for next week. These are extremely time-insensitive projects to undertake, so I’m living by my Day Planner constantly. Two significant events happened this week that have the potential to take this exit strategy burden of mine to a whole new level.
Our unit management is putting on a 16-week course on “Pre-Release.” Guys who are leaving soon were invited to attend the class, held in the unit’s multi-purpose room. I, of course, asked the head of the program if I could sit in and monitor the class. She said, “You are most certainly welcome to attend!” The warden spoke at the class, as well as a couple of others. 35 guys attended. Today, the class organizer came up to me and asked me to meet with her tomorrow to give her my input (I’d like to increase it to two nights a week and teach character and business and goal-setting … )
Also this week, the chaplain pulled me into his office for a meeting after the Catholic service. He asked me lots of questions and was fascinated by our differently similar backgrounds—he was raised Amish and is now Catholic, and has a heart for the incarcerated. He asked what my strengths are (most people in churches just assume it’s music), and I told him business and discipleship. We talked, and he asked me to develop a ministry plan for churches who want to have an offender re-entry program. His hands are tied in many ways as a chaplain, so he wants to use me to help accomplish what appears to be quite similar goals to his. Please pray as I put this into my schedule.