Tuesday, May 20, 2008

From Prison to Praise

From Prison to Praise

I have a friend. She’s been a Christian for all of her adult life.
For the past twenty five years she has been a stay home mom making sure that her children were raised in Godliness and safety.

She’s incarcerated now, for a violent crime. I will not tell you what state she is in or what her conviction was for. Suffice it to say, she does not say, “ I am innocent.”

I’ve been to visit about a half a dozen times. I try to bring her youngest son as often as I can.

When she first went to prison she was terrified
Her transfer to a state facility was no improvement. Yes, there were fewer people in her cell. Now she only had three “bunkies” And there was a bed for her.

For the next 3 ½ years she knew that she would be in danger and that she had absolutely no control over any part of her life. But, she knew that she carried Christ into that place of fear and loathing. And she knew that if she were to survive with her life and sanity intact she must never forget that. Christ became, indeed` her hiding place, her fortress, her shield. In the very beginning she told me that every moment, Every moment, she clings to Jesus, so closely that she can hear his heart beat.

Even before her incarceration date she knew that, after entering into her new life, she would have be a woman of integrity. She must hold her head high, speak only truth, follow only God’s leading when wanting to interact with other prisoners. She must never lie, never be proud, never interfere.

And from the very first day, other prisoners watched her. Would she be a woman of integrity? Could they trust her? Should they trust her? Some have. Many others have not.
But she has been scrutinized, set up and monitored, not just by the prisoners but by the guards as well.

She involved herself in every kind of work that she could find. She became a chaplain’s assistant, joined the choir and became a worship leader. She applied for and was accepted into a paralegal course. Now her spare time is spent answering prisoners legal questions. She has passed an algebra course, at the top of her class. She has learned the “genteel” art of reupholstery, as well as carpentry and plumbing. She sets up the gym for visiting days, plans and monitors exercise programs, works out herself and is learning computer office skills. Basically, every waking hour is taken up with industry. At night she writes long letters to her husband.

But the circumstances of the lives of those around her are living nightmares. Several women she has come to know and support have committed suicide. Fights often end with boiling water being thrown into the face of the loser.

Yet, no one molests her. No one troubles her. She is held in high regard. Everyone knows that she is a Christian. And since her actions back her words, she has many friends and very few enemies.

The last time I spoke to her she told me how the prison guards ask for her prayers. She says they call her, as they would call any prisoner. But when she goes up to one of them she listens to their concerns and prays for them, but in a way that appears as if they are having a conversation. He speaks, she answers, and quietly prays and no one knows. Even the guards themselves do not know that she prays with several of them. They each think he is the only one she prays with.

Never think that her life has been easy. Each day is a huge struggle. And every day she fails in some way. She’d be the first to tell you that.

She still has many months of time to serve. But she is strong in the Lord. Daily, she says, she “presses herself into his palm.” And the lessons I have learned from her are so overwhelming. After she calls, I cry! I tell people at church about her and how well she’s doing and I cry!

I feel so privileged to be a part of her story.

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