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The Second Time I Went to Prison

June 4, 2014

I sat in the car quietly, not knowing exactly what to expect.  The men on either side of me were silent as well.  I had not experienced this situation and I was unsure of what to say or how I was to act.

I was going back to prison.

As you read in one of my earlier posts, I joined a group and had gone to a medium-security prison in South Carolina in order to minister.  I was a freshman college student at the time, and the whole morning was both sobering and amazing.  I saw the sadness and boredom of a life of incarceration, but I was also able to share the Gospel and see a young man accept Jesus as his Savior.

imageCarl came to my dormitory the next week and knocked on my door.  “Sam’s going to join me and we wanted to know if you would join us, Zockoll.  Are you ready for a new challenge?” he asked.  “This is a one-shot opportunity.  This ministry may throw you a bit.”

“Well, yeah,” I replied.  “It would have to be a pretty unusual situation to top the prison visit.”

“Oh, this one is,” he said.  “We’ve been asked to go and minister at a women’s prison.”

“Seriously?” I was surprised.  “Us guys?   Going to minister to female inmates?”

Carl smiled.  “They’ve requested us to come.  Brad, everybody needs to hear the Gospel.”

“Yeah, of course I know that, Carl, but why not have some girls go minister?” I asked.

“The authorities feel it’s too dangerous and that the prisoners wouldn’t take them seriously.” He shrugged.  “We got the invite.  Are you in?”

I nodded.  I wanted to be a part of this outreach.  I do not recall who gave us the invitation, but I knew we were only going to have one opportunity. Sam joined us and we drove through the Sunday afternoon, praying and contemplating this new outreach.

We arrived at the prison in the afternoon.  We did not, as I thought, go from cell to cell or talk with the prisoners out in the courtyard.  We walked into a tight hallway and faced a holding cell.  I scanned the number of bunk beds behind the bars.  There were at least twenty.  Maybe more.  Every one had a prisoner sitting on it, some reclining.  The cell was obviously overcrowded; there were women sitting on the floor with blankets laid out.  I believe there were at least thirty prisoners squeezed in that community cell.

There were three of us fellows.  We wore suits and ties out of respect for the ladies.  These women had done wrong, of course, but as God’s children we felt that we should offer them some dignity and respect as we shared the Gospel.  The minute we walked into their presence, there was a commotion.  Some of the women sat up and threw out vulgar exclamations.  “Hey, you boys,” called an old woman.  “You come on in here and …”

The guards had walked down the hall and went into a break room.

The old woman got bolder as she realized no guards were around.  “Unlock those doors and come on in to me…”

“Shut up, you hag!” screeched another one.  “Let them talk.”

“I know what I want to do, ” she cackled.  She let loose a series of profanities that I cannot repeat here.

A middle aged woman stood up and faced her.  “They didn’t have to come here, you know.  Let them talk.”

Carl faced them while Sam and I leaned back against the wall and squatted.  We wanted them to know that Carl was the main speaker with the message for them.

“Good afternoon, ladies, my name is Carl and I want to talk to you about a special hope that you can have.  Something that…”

“He call us ‘ladies’,” said another old woman.  “Can you beat that?  He call us ‘ladies.'”

Carl continued.  “I want you to see Jesus in the way that you may have never seen him before.  You may have thought that He was just a Christmas story, or a moral teacher…”

“Ah hahahaha,” squealed a woman.

“But Jesus Christ can give you hope…” continued Carl, unperturbed.

The two older women started catcalling Carl.  “Get in here, young boy.”  “Don’t want to hear about Jesus, want to have you.  Come on up to this bed…”  “You think that Jesus is so important ,you ought to see me…”  It was a racket.

Carl stopped speaking, closed his eyes and prayed aloud.  “Oh, Heavenly Father, there is a spirit of deep evil in this place.  There are ladies that want to hear about You and the Good News from the Son, but a demon presence is prohibiting Your Message.  I pray that you would quiet this place and cast out the demons that want to stop Your servants.”

The whole room grew quiet.  Powerfully quiet.

“Yeh, heh heh,” cackled one of the old women but in a low chuckle.  Then she turned and faced the wall and said nothing else.

A prisoner stood up and came to the bars near Carl.  “Lemme ask you somethin’ ’bout that Bible.”

“Sure,” said Carl, and the two had a discussion.  Sam went over and quietly talked to three prisoners to my left.

“Is it true?” I heard a voice near me. There was a young lady, about twenty years old, seated on a blanket on the floor.  I went over to her and kneeled.  “I beg your pardon?”

“Is it true?” She repeated, quietly.  “About the hope.  Can Jesus really offer that?”

“Oh, yes,” I said, opening up my Bible.  “I can show you, so you’ll know for sure.”

She nodded.  “I..I’m a preacher’s daughter and I am a Christian,” she said haltingly.  “But the stuff I’ve done, I don’t see how Jesus can forgive me.”

I opened up the Bible to 1 John 1:9 and read a verse i had recently studied:  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  I looked at her.  “What’s your name, ma’am?”

“I’m Donna.”

“Well, Donna, do you see what it says?  The Bible itself claims that Jesus will cleanse you from all sin.  All of it, Donna.  You can make a fresh start.”

She nodded soberly.  “That’s what I want to do.  Can you pray with me?”

We knelt together in that grimy holding area and prayed.  I was able to share some more Scripture with her and hear her story.  When I rose to go, I saw a light in Donna’s eyes.

“Thank you, mister,”  she said.

I was thankful myself.  I was made aware of a whole segment of society that needed our outreach in order to hear of God’s love.

May the groans of the prisoner come before You…   Psalm 79:11

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  1. Enjoy hearing about your experiences.

  2. Thank you! I, too, enjoyed reading your post about snide comments. Great insight and a good reminder to me as well.

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