349 | A Boy Grows Up

September 21, 2014
Sunday, 4:30 p.m.
Letter #349: A Boy Grows Up


Dear Family,

I have known since my first day of incarceration that God’s abundant mercy and grace is upon me. And it seems as if I have known my whole life that I don’t deserve either mercy or grace. Both are generously given to me by my Heavenly Father who has chosen to not only work ON me during those years away from my family, but also THROUGH me. I’d asked Him, pleaded with Him, to do the former; I never expected Him to need me for His work. And to this day, it still surprises me when God makes plain that He wants me, as is the case with an inmate I’ll call “Boy.”

Now, let me be clear: I am not a fan of prison nicknames, gang-affiliated monikers, and the like. Whenever possible, I discard these relics of someone’s past in favor of their God-given name. Names having to do with criminal activity, such as Sniper, Bullet, Evil, and Choppy (don’t ask) are just as common as names based on someone’s appearance (Dopey, Doc, Happy and Sleepy have all been actual friends of mine). The only nicknames I use are ones given to someone by their mom or dad, as is the case with Boy, my friend whose given name is a unpronounceable Spanish word that needs a whole lot less syllables.

Boy is just twenty-three years old, having been locked up since he was caught, after a $500,000 home-invasion robbery and subsequent high-speed pursuit, at the age of sixteen. While my last cellie, Joe, was here, he took Boy under his wing and befriended him. Every day, Joe would get Boy to workout with him, driving Boy to the point of exhaustion.

Gradually, Boy opened up to Joe, and Joe encouraged Boy to begin making better choices. He came to church with us at Joe’s invitation, and just before Joe got transferred back to California, he had a heart-to-heart with Boy, telling him that God loved him and wanted him to get to know his Creator. Boy seemed to respond well, though he didn’t make a formal decision to follow God. Joe was undeterred, telling me that I needed to follow up with Boy.

And this is where I can most clearly see the grace and mercy of God in my life: I could have never dreamed that I’d be sitting down with a gang member, at the request of a former Satanist, to counsel him, but I have now, several times, and God continues to bless Boy’s life through me, thanks to the seed that Joe planted.

A month ago now, Boy asked me for help because he was having “girl trouble.” His girlfriend had moved from his mom’s house to Chicago, and wasn’t taking his calls. Meanwhile, a neighborhood friend had asked for his address and written to him, expressing her renewed interest in him. To further complicate matters, his brother has been posing as Boy on Facebook and has another girl interested in being with him when he paroles in two years. Oh, did I mention Boy is married? Yep, girl trouble, all right.

When I found out he is married, but his wife had sent him divorce papers, I told Boy that God’s desire for him is to honor his marriage vows. Even in the midst of her abandoning him two years ago, he should love her and fight for his marriage. I told him to pray and that I would pray.

Now, of all crazy things, Boys’ wife wrote to him and asked him to call her. After meeting with me again, he called her and was able to tell her how sorry he was for all he did to break up their marriage and that he wanted to have her back in his life. Things are moving along, and Boy is acting like someone who is madly in love. I’ve helped him with letters and cards for his wife, and I’m privileged to once again have front-row seats to see God’s work in someone’s life as He draws him into the Kingdom. It won’t be long now.

Thank you for praying!