May 26, 2008
Monday, 4:30 p.m.
Letter #27: A Captive Audience
Happy Memorial Day! I was tempted to break away from my prayers for you today and just be jealous of all your picnics, get-togethers, and times spent with family and friends. I quickly snapped out of my 3-second pity party as I remembered that my part in all your fun/fellowship/food was right here in front of me: PRAYER! I prayed specifically that God would enable you to build a bridge with someone new to the faith today.
Well, as I just wrote to you, God’s prompted me to be a witness—put the Light on a table where it gives Light to all in the Big House! I know a good friend and former C.O. at a California State Prison said I should try to stay in the background as much as I can—don’t stand out, and my time will be much easier. I love and respect the guy, and I appreciate any advice given to me. However, God’s made it VERY CLEAR that these 15 years—and beyond—belong to Him. It’s not about my time, but His time! I want to be the “City on a Hill” that cannot be hid! I’ve purposed to just be a servant wherever and whenever I can. God brings opportunities.
Last week at dayroom, I was looking forward to possibly getting a haircut. It had been over six weeks, and I was starting to go retro 80s, Christopher Reeve as Superman-style. The possibility of visits from my family was on my mind, and one of my goals is to be somewhat recognizable to you all.
I went up to both Robert (who cut it last time) and Spider (the artist who started cutting hair recently). Neither wanted to, though the kit for hair was already out. I knew how many guys wanted their hair cut by the lineup of IDs on the podium—about 15 cards in all. “I’ll do it, then!” I announced, unpacking the box of tools.
Spider took over, and I just trimmed beards and moustaches. However, in between top-tier and bottom-tier dayrooms, he cut my hair too! It was the first time a barber or hair stylist has just started cutting my hair without asking what I wanted. It looks good, though!
By the next dayroom, both Spider and Robert had transferred out to their permanent prisons, so I’m the barber. God has given me a captive audience in the guys He brings to me! I’ve found that guys are very willing to talk about going to church, participating in Bible Study, and belief in God when I have a razor blade at their head. Reminds me of the 13-year-old kid who came to Christ while we were going through the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced on any flight. We were sitting together on the over-the-wing aisle and could watch the wing flapping like a bird’s wing. “Can you imagine if that wing just—POP!—snapped right off?” I’d asked him; his eyes bugged out of his head. “We’d go shooting to the ground!”
I laughed at the thought, ignoring his grip on our mutual armrest. “Hey, where would you go—Heaven or Hell?” Considering that sitting next to me was quickly becoming hell, he chose God that day.
Basically, the witnessing thing is all about your relationship with God. You talk about those you love the most. So, I decided to use the barber position as my launching pad to talking “religion” with the guys. God was faithful.
Then, God prompted me to use the ideas from a book my sister-in-law, Katie, sent me (Fusion) on church growth—assimilation of first-time visitors into productive members—in our Bible Study. God gave us a great study, and we had a visitor! Using an idea from the book, I wrote him an immediate response letter. I used another idea and offered him a gift (He already had a Bible; we’ll also start offering writing supplies for guys to write home.) I asked God for a name for our ministry, and He gave me HIM—His Intimate Ministry, since it is all about HIM!
After yard today, I had to go to medical for a scraped hand and knee (basketball 🙂 ). While I was waiting in our dorm, I noticed Joseph, our visitor, was waiting to move next door, so he won’t join us again. I was able to talk with him, encourage him to make amends with his wife and write to his 2-year-old daughter, and then I gave him a stamped envelope, paper, and a pencil. He thanked me for my letter (given to him at breakfast). I encouraged him to join the Bible Study next door, and he said he would!
I’ve just placed my order for store … besides some hygiene items, I ordered saltines. We’ll start using them and cherry Kool-Aid for communion once a week. If they won’t give us church, we’ll just have to start one! Pray for this new endeavor!