The Prisoner – December 17, 1991


Matthew 25:34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

God and I went to prison this past Friday and Saturday. He was very generous to me with His counsel and His peace. I felt more comfortable witnessing Jesus in Huntsville State Prison than I feel shopping at the mall. By Saturday afternoon when Paul Carlin Ministries went back behind the walls, about eighty five of us entered the prison. I frustrated myself trying to do what I thought I should do. All of my personal plans were failing. I had decided to check up on each of the five prisoners I visited the day before.

After gaining access to many locked doors and finding three of them asleep I began to sense myself trying to do what only God can do. If the prisoners were sleeping… we were not to wake them. I stopped in the hall and prayed and surrendered to God just as I had done before I went into the prison the first day… and asked Him to be faithful and take over. I felt I had wasted God’s time and began searching for someone new to witness to.

As I passed one cell an inmate’s eyes met mine for about a tenth of a second, then he quickly looked away. I walked on down to the end of the cellblock and returned without any progress. As I walked back by this man… I took my time and looked and made sure he wouldn’t look back at me. He didn’t. I got about three cells away and just knew I had to go back. I walked back to his cell and looked at him until he looked at me.

“Would you like to talk,” I asked?

“It doesn’t matter,” was his reply.

I checked real quick on the inside of me… and the word fish came up.

“Do you like to fish,” I asked?

By the grace of God he lit up like a Christmas tree. He told me he loved to fish and we sat and talked for twenty minutes about nothing but fishing. We had both wade fished many of the same areas around Galveston Island in southeast Texas. We shared those places with one another, and of course our best fishing stories. Suddenly after talking for twenty minutes, we ran out of words and I just looked at him for about eight seconds. Seemed like forever.

“You know why we’re here.”

“Yea, I know why you’re here.”

“Well, can we talk about Jesus for a little while,” I asked?

“It doesn’t matter,” was his reply once again. I think he thought he offended me, according to the look he had on his face, and then quickly added, “If that’s what you want to do, that’s okay.”

The Lord had given scripture to me about a week and a half earlier which I knew was to be used in prison. I didn’t know who it was for. My concept of how this scripture would be used was altogether different than God’s perspective. It was II Chronicles Chapter 33. Without any knowledge to what anyone in prison had done, I began to relate this story to him about a terrible king who led his people down the wrong path. This king broke all of God’s laws and even sacrificed his sons to false gods. When I said that… he melted like wax and began to wipe some tears off his cheeks.

He said, “I don’t know why I’m here.”

His eyes were telling the truth but I didn’t understand.

“What do you mean you don’t know why you’re here,” I asked?

“At the trial they told me I killed my two kids and that the bullets in them came from my gun. They said the bullet that’s in my head came from my father-in-law’s gun. They said the bullet passed through all five parts of my brain and that it’s impossible for me to be alive. They said they cannot operate and take out the bullet because it is such a sensitive operation it would probably cause brain damage.”

Since he had been laying down the whole time and propped up on his elbow talking to me… I asked if he could walk alright and if he lost any equilibrium or anything. He said he was fine; there was no brain damage at all that he was aware of. All he could say was, “Nobody has any idea why I am alive.”

I said, “The reason you are alive is because God has a purpose for your life.”

“I don’t know how much longer I can live this way,” he said with more tears filling his eyes. He had already spent nine years in prison and still had eleven more years to go.

“I must have killed my kids but I don’t even know that I did… and I don’t know how much longer I can stand it.”

“God loves you more than you will ever know. He sent his Son to die on the cross and take away all of your sins if you would only accept Him as the Lord and Savior of your life.”

I paused a few seconds while he seemed to be thinking and then asked him, “Would you like to meet Jesus personally and make Him your Savior.” He nodded and softly said, “Yea” at the same time.

We bowed our heads and said the salvation prayer together and only when I looked up and saw his face did I understand the love of God. God had shielded my eyes from the razor blade cross cut in his forehead at the base of his nose between his eyes. Had I seen it before, I honestly don’t know what I would have done. God chose to let that man see the love of Jesus on my face instead of the hate of judgment. Hebrews 2:3 “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation.”

I want to thank the Lord for a weekend I will cherish forever.


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