May 7, 2008
Wednesday, 3:00 p.m.
Letter #20: God Is My Protector and Shield!
Hi! How are my favorite people in the whole wide world doin’? WELL, I hope! I figured I should probably give you the “Part B” to my previous story of passing death threats to handicapped people. (Hint: I’m not writing to you from the hotel!)
I handed the letter to “Youngster” (the culprit of the threat), sealed in an envelope with his name on it. I told him through his door that it was from me: “Just a note!” with a big grin on my face.
That note was washed and presented in prayer, and I started making preparations for dinner. Just as his door was popped open to come eat, I saw him pass the envelope quickly to his neighbor buddies. I inwardly groaned and prayed some more; I claimed the Word of God He’d given me that day, Isaiah 51:12–14: “The Lord says, I am the one who strengthens you. Why should you fear mortals? … Why should you live in constant fear of those who oppress you? … Their fury can no longer touch you! Those who are prisoners will soon be set free; they will live a long life and have all the food they need!”
The first guy to pass me in the chow line was “Wrath,” Youngster’s cellie—who I figured would have to read the letter to Youngster and “translate it” or “dumb it down” for him. He’s got a little grin on his face, and he says in a loud voice, “Now, Christopher, you know better than to go sending us those darn ‘high intellectual letters’ to us common folk!” My first indication that, behind in the count, bases loaded, and facing a fastball, I hadn’t struck out.
Next came the guy from next door, who commented something along the lines of: “Wow. You’re not gonna let Youngster get respect from you, are you?”
“Why?” I countered.
“Because of what he did to you!”
“I’m not admitting to anything,” I shot back.
“Christopher—I READ your letter!!”
We both laughed.
Then, Youngster himself: “Hey, Chris. Do you think you could write a letter to my girlfriend?”
“I already do—once a week!” I immediately said.
“What did you say?” He spun around, no longer walking away. (No, Christopher, I thought. Not the best time to joke!)
“Of course I’ll write to her for you,” I replied, sincerely.
Later that night, I was put at #4 on a list of guys who get passed the USA Today newspaper. So, instead of it being USA Last Month it’s USA Yesterday. God is good, I realized, as I watched my grand slam sailing over the fence, deep into the bleachers. He’s got my back!
I’ve had two other equally dramatic incidents, just in the past two weeks I’ve been a porter. One guy was so mad at what I’d relayed to him from another cell—he thought I was helping incite the problem—that he told his cellie he was going to attack me. (He is a bit mentally “special”—probably from drugs—and has a huge cast on his foot and crutches. I lovingly refer to him—in my mind only—as “Bigfoot,” though he goes by “Dashboard,” maybe because he hit one at a high rate of speed? In that case, he could also be called “Crack Pipe.”)
His cellie confided in me at yard on Monday the reason Dashboard had hit the brakes on the anger trip: he’d had some sense talked into him by his cellie, none other than my Christian buddy (and fellow space cadet, I must say), Vincent! Yes, the guy, you may recall, who was punched here a month ago. God used him to quiet the storm building up around me.
After one such threat (“You’re about to get beat down!”), I walked up to the guy’s cell for an explanation. Dumb him, he wanted a garbage bag for a buddy of his. Uh, right. Let me see how to put this: “Sorry, Bro, but I’m not gonna risk losing my job trying to steal a garbage bag for you!” Not sure if he and his 6′ 3″ cellie were going to “regulate” on me at yard or not, I asked God for wisdom (most guys skip yard under such circumstances, since showing up is an indication you want to fight). God gave me Psalm 144:1–2: “Praise the Lord, my Protector! He trains me for battle, and prepares me for war. He is my protector and defender, my shelter and Savior, in whom I trust for safety.”
Yes, I went to yard! In fact, I shot and made basketball team captain, then led my team to victory, with a 5 of 6 shooting percentage, including one made while heavily double-fouled driving through the middle of the key. I had (in our game to 15) those 5 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals, including one that I ran back for a bucket. I had fun, broke up three major arguments—my privilege as captain!—and never thought about the threats, even though two guys have been attacked on the basketball courts since I’ve been here. God is my protector and shield!
Thank you for your prayers. They uphold me and give me a powerful testimony as I share with guys what God is doing!
Lots of love,