It was an unusual gesture on the part of the prison guards. For some reason, one pulled me aside and looked inside my Bible. Then he took a closer look at my shoes and lower pants. He gave me a suspicious look, but when our eyes met, the room burst out laughing. “We heard you were freeing all the inmates tonight,” He explained.
Indeed, that was the topic of discussion at the Incarcerated Christian support group. We had a great discussion which included testimonies and heartfelt prayer for inmates who were not yet freed.
Let me share one of the testimonies from prisoners on how they got free again:
Will is a 42-year-old father of a young boy he might never see again. Convicted of taking part in a robbery in which an accomplice killed two people. In New Jersey, participating in a crime that results in a death is the same as murder. He spent his first year in prison crying over the hardship he caused his family. He wrote letters explaining how he never thought stealing would hurt anyone and asked their forgiveness. But he didn’t give them a chance to respond.
He was found hanging from an upper bunk the same day he wrote the letters. Quick actions by the guards saved him. He spent time at a local hospital before returning to the prison. While in the hospital, he had a view of a tree. It was stormy, and the tree blew in all directions. But it always returned upright, minus a few leaves, but otherwise unbothered. “The tree is stronger than me,” he thought.
Back in prison, he could not participate in any activities for a while. Bored, he stopped a book delivery cart one day. On it was a tattered, fake-leather book with a tree embossed on the cover. He opened it and dropped it immediately. His eyes opened wide as he looked suspiciously at the inmate pushing the cart. He took the book. It was a Bible. Written on the front page were the words, “You are stronger than the tree.”
Will had a Methodist background and knew something about the Bible. He read the New Testament first. He eventually went back into the regular routine among the other inmates. One night, he woke to find his bunkmate crying. He saw an object in his hand and scratches on his wrist. “Don’t do it! Said Will. “God loves you!”
The two of them sat on the floor sobbing without words until the guards discovered them. They never said a word, but the next week, both of them got a visit from the prison chaplain. They shared the story. The chaplain asked Will why he said what he said. “Because I know it is true. The Bible says it over and over again”.
“Uh huh,” said the chaplain. “And… is there anybody else you know He loves?”
Will and the other inmate gave their lives to Christ that day. They were among the first members of a Bible study group and Will heads the Incarcerated Christian support group. He explains to new inmates that he wasted over a year whining about being a prisoner when how to get free again was sitting in a cart of books the whole time.
Since God became the guiding point of his life, he realizes no walls or prison guards can take away his freedom. He lives for God and to spread Jesus’ word around the prison. “God put me here not to imprison me, but to make me free.”
There are colleges and faith groups that offer Christian reading materials and classes in the Bible. International Christian College and Seminary (ICCS) specializes in correctional facility inmates’ education and the growth of Christianity among prisoners. How to get free once again could be as simple as clicking the link above.