October 26, 2008
Sunday, 5:30 p.m.
Letter #61: Gator’s Miracle
Greetings! I want to give you a few updates on what’s taking place here, with a few prayer requests I’m bringing before the Lord. Thank you in advance for joining with me in these areas!
First: “Gator” is back! After staying a few days in the hospital, he was brought back to our building. I saw him in the dayroom (the large floor area around which our cells are located, with some tables, telephones, and a few benches), and I rushed over to greet him.
Gator is rather tall (like 6′ 4″), of average weight, looks to be around 70 years old, and moves slowly. I shook his hand, welcomed him back—to the building, and to life!—and asked what had caused the near-death exit via ambulance only days before. I introduced myself formally, too, apologizing that I hadn’t cared enough about him before to even shake hands. He said no problem, that he’d been referring to me as “Smiley.” I’m not sure why.
Apparently, his cellie couldn’t get a response from him one night and didn’t notify anyone until morning, when he hadn’t moved for 12 hours. I immediately drew up a “Potential Stupidity Examination” for all my future prospective cellies. It is a circumstantial miracle that Gator didn’t die. He’d experienced pneumonia that led to labored breathing, which in turn meant less oxygen, which caused a mild stroke—the night before!
It was a medical miracle that Gator didn’t die. Nodding to him, I said, “So, you obviously know that God exists, right?”
He slowly answered as he looked away: “Yeah, I guess. I’ve also been stabbed multiple times, overdosed on drugs, and been shot. I should be dead. This was the third time I almost died.”
I asked him if he knew why God had spared his life yet another time.
“No, but I’ve wondered.”
I told him how I’d seen him on the gurney and stood at my door for half an hour, begging God to let him live—that God would give him one more chance, little knowing how many chances he’d already had. I took some time to find out about him—he’s only 58 years old! (remind me not to use drugs)—and he told me that while serving a prior life sentence, he made God a deal: get him out, and he’ll go to church.
After serving 17 years, he was released (in 2000) at age 50 and actually started going to church. Then, drugs came back into his life, he found out that the woman he’d married while in prison was cheating on him, and soon he was back in prison on drug and other charges. He has nearly three years left.
I told him he needs to talk to God and find out why his life was spared. I told him how much God cares about him and how God wants Gator to know Him. I invited him to church, and though he didn’t come today, I’m confident he will soon. Please pray for Gator. I’ve had other conversations with him and so has Trinity. I know God is working on his heart.
Trinity was just “endorsed” (given clearance by his counselor and committee) to transfer to Mule Creek, a prison in Ione, CA, near Sacramento, which is much closer to his wife and kids. Though I’m happy for him, he’ll be greatly missed, as he did a lot to bring unity to the Christians on the yard. He started the daily yard Bible Studies, got permission for inmates to occasionally preach in regular Sunday chapel services, and is always encouraging those around him.
His church donated Bibles for the prisoners (NKJV Study Bibles) of which I received one, and they were just raising money to send us an overhead projector to use in our worship times. (His new facility will benefit from that now!)
Trinity’s current cellie, Keith, asked me to be his cellie when Trinity leaves. I’ve literally received over a dozen cellie requests since being here, and he’ll be the first one I’ve agreed to, provided my cellie, Lorenzo, leaves to fight his case in L.A. county within the next few weeks. Please pray that this does work out for Lorenzo. Eventually, when he leaves, it will be great to cell up with Keith, who is enrolled in Harvest University with me too.
Lastly, please pray for Officer Kuscmitz. He has been having problems with Sergeant Thomas, his boss, basically over issues regarding his faith. He still joins us at Wednesday Bible Studies when he gets off work at 2 p.m. He loves God and has been a big encouragement to me. Thank you for praying!