June 4, 2008
Wednesday, 6:00 p.m.
Letter #31: “You’re gonna do just fine … .”
Happy Birthday to Me! Being on a permanent lockdown status for the first 10 days here makes it a bit difficult to be entirely celebratory, but I’ve made sure a few people found out it’s my special day. They didn’t let me choose what I wanted for dinner, but the spicy beef over rice was just fine—and they gave me cake, too! And everyone else. Still …
Well, though I don’t know all there is to know about life at Salinas Valley—yet—I’ve been blessed incredibly these two days. But first, my final two days at Delano …
The facility was on lockdown May 31, so I got to say good-byes to guys I’d played ball with. Back at my room, I wrote letters to my two main C.O.s, thanking them for their investment in my life. I proclaimed Christ in the letters, and I praised their character.
My favorite C.O., Winters, took time to give me advice. He complimented me on my attitude and said: “You’re gonna do just fine, wherever you go. Good luck to you.” Two other C.O.s said it was nice working with me.
I wrote good-bye letters to my Christian brothers, Mike and Justin, too. They’ve both made a huge impact on my life. Since Justin will be paroling in mid-July, I left a bunch of stuff with Mike to carry on the Bible Study ministry: food, Christian literature, and writing supplies. He’ll do a great job; I really believe that God has called him to preach the Word.
My big prayer request was that God would allow me to have our first church service during dayroom. Well, the facility lockdown made that not happen, but I got to visit my sweet Mommy instead! God was carefully orchestrating the details, though! After dinner, the woman C.O. punished everyone by leaving the TV off all night (someone had refused to sit by a gay person). I thanked the Lord, finished mopping, and skipped my shower to do what I believe God led me to do.
I’d saved up red Kool-Aid and borrowed a package of saltines and, since we hadn’t had communion since Good Friday and dayroom was canceled, I took communion door to door and served it to the small flock God had entrusted to me: guys from my Bible Study group, guys from the other group, closet-Christians, and guys I’d spoken to about God … 10 cells in all, with a total of 16 guys receiving communion. I prayed for each man, thanking God for what He was going to do in each life, and I thanked God for giving Christ the death penalty in our place.
I wept at many of the doors as the men soberly took the elements with me. Several of the guys had tears and thanked me, sending me off with encouraging words. At one door, a couple guys from San Jose said, “No, thank you” to receive communion, showing me a sketch they’d hung above their door with blasphemous words and images on it. I blessed them and went on to the others. Some are open; some are not, but it is not for me to choose whom I feel comfortable ministering to!
The Lord brought to mind my Sunday School teacher when I was six years old, an 80-year-old woman who never knew that something she said one Sunday prompted me to receive Christ as my Savior when I got home from church. How many other kids besides Michael and me did the same? How many didn’t? Yet, she taught us all the same. The same opportunity. A choice.
Please pray for the “underground church” at Delano and other facilities: prisoners reaching out to other prisoners, touching lives that the chaplain never gets a chance to even see. At Delano, Mike, Paul, and Frank will be carrying on the work … like me, they just want to be faithful. At other facilities, that little group has now “sent out” Peter, Carlos, and me. May we quickly find and embrace what God gives us each to do!
Thank you for your prayers—they silenced a noisy TV for our communion service! I love you all. Thank you for your support!
In Christ’s love!