The “Lost” Cellie

prison ministryIt was June 5, Day 83 in “the hole.” How long, how long would I have to be in solitary confinement before I was transferred to another facility!!! The wait was hard and long and I was getting itchy to get out!

On that day I got paired up with my second cellie. My first cellie, “smelly cellie,” was transferred out a couple of weeks ago. I would remain with this second one until my August 20 departure date. He was a nice guy, a little odd, but we got along.

My  after-breakfast morning routine was to study the Bible and work through some Bible studies. My cellie would always observe what I was doing while he would do his four hours of morning pacing. The first week I moved in with him, he asked if I was a Christian. I immediately responded with a Yes and asked if he was. He told me that he doesn’t believe in any of that stuff. I briefly asked him a few questions as to why, and he said he doesn’t want to talk about it. So I left it at that. I didn’t want to push anything which could turn him even further away from God. The next few weeks I continued to pray that God would work in his heart and that he would speak up and ask some spiritual questions. It took a few weeks, but, sure enough, he opened up and shared what he believed in. He told me that he believes that we are all robots and that we are contolled by a robotic god. It took everything I had to hold back my laughter, but I did. I proceeded to share with him the Gospel message for the next fifteen minutes while he paced.

That first time and many times after that when I talked to him about Jesus, he didn’t say one word. I didn’t even know if he was listening, as he didn’t make any eye contact with me or acknowledge anything I said. After my talks, I always said a quick prayer that he had understood and it would sink into his heart. As the weeks went on we continued to talk about our beliefs about once every week but he always insisted on his way of thinking. I felt like I was not getting through to him at all.

To briefly describe my cellie, he was a “sick” man. He was on his way to a special needs home, so his mind was not the mind of a normal person. Plus, he was very stubborn and had a very short attention span. I honestly thought that getting him to understand about Jesus was an impossible task, and wondered why I even bothered talking to him about it. I continued to pray that God would soften his heart to understand the simple truths….Jesus loved him, Jesus died for him.

June and July came and went, and during the first part of August he was still adamant about his beliefs and wasn’t budging on his robotic theory. I continued to talk about what the Bible said, trying to make it easy to understand so he could comprehend it. On August 17, just four days before my departure (even though at the time I didn’t know I was leaving on that date), he again continued to talk about robots. My talks, I thought, were going nowhere. I know I didn’t have much time left, too. I felt like I had not made any progress in the past months and that it was all wasted time. But I tried again anyway.

This time when I talked, oddly enough, every once in a while, he stopped pacing and stared at me, and he looked like he was actually listening to me, a definite first. As I finished speaking he actually said, “So you really believe in Jesus, huh?” and then he apologized for his lack of attention whenever I spoke to him. I was shocked, and thankful at the same time! Could God really be opening up this man’s heart? I continued to pray for him. The next morning I found out that I would be leaving on the 20th, so now I had three more days to continue sharing my faith with my cellie.  All I needed was one more day actually. Because after lunch on August 18, my cellie said out of the blue, “I think I’m ready to turn to Jesus.”

Simply stated, this was without a doubt a miracle from God. Never in my wildest mind, did I even dream my cellie would say this. I was only hoping that someday in the future he might remember some of the things I had spoken to him about and that he remembers them.  He was a lost soul on June 5th and still a lost soul into August, as far as I could tell. I had no clue that I was even reaching him for the past two and half months. God literally touched and softened his heart. This was definitely not a me-thing but a God-thing. God’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Just days before I would be leaving, the Pacer was ready to commit his life to the Lord. God was working in his life! I pray now that God continues to send someone into the Pacer’s life so he can continue his faith walk. Please pray for him.

As I look back on what transpired since March 5 when I arrived in Yazoo City, I know why God wanted me there in a medium security prison.  His plans are perfect. God definitely knows what He’s doing. Spending 5+ months in “the hole” was well worth it as I think of what now awaits this man who had been a lost sheep. As I waited five long months to get out of “the hole,” it was all perfect timing…..God’s timing. I give God all the glory. He is good!

I’ll Wait

waitingIt was the end of June when I was told that I was redesignated and would be out of “the hole” on my way to a new federal prison in a few days. Apparently, God had other plans for me. Every Wednesday a bus came and went, and yet I still waited. As I write this, today is August 14, and I still wait. It’s been almost two months of waiting for my turn to go. What is God teaching me? Hmmm…..

Have you ever had to wait for something? Of course, you have. Waiting is a part of life. Maybe it was waiting for that pay raise or for a child to be born or for that wedding day. Or maybe it was just waiting in line to be checked out at a grocery or department store. How do you take to waiting? Waiting is defined as: to stay or attend to. The best kind of waiting are for those big exciting occasions in life. The hardest type of waiting is when there is a possibility for bad news or something that needs to be done quickly and it’s taking a long time.

For two months now I’ve been waiting to leave. It’s been hard. Although I’ve gotten used to it, being in a 10’ x 10’ space for the past five months is not the easiest. I make the best of it, trying to live my time for God, doing what He would want me to do and having the kind of attitude He wants me to have, relying on Him to provide for me and get me through each day. The biblical definition of waiting is to stay, serve, and patiently anticipate. Although there are a number of reasons, I believe God allows people to wait daily and in life for two main ones:

1. To develop patience – “A patient man has great understanding.” Proverbs 14:29
2. To teach a lesson – “Teach me to do Your will.” Psalm 143:10

King David knew what it meant to wait. He had been anointed king of Israel at age 16 but didn’t become king until he was 30. He had to patiently wait on God for the fulfillment of His promise to reign. Waiting for God is not easy. Often it seems that He isn’t answering our prayers or doesn’t understand the urgency of our situation. That kind of thinking implies that God is not in control or is not fair. But God is worth waiting for. Lamentations 3:24-6 calls us to hope in and wait for the Lord because often God uses waiting to refresh, renew, and teach us.

Next time you have to wait for something, whether it’s for a long period of time or just in line at the store, consider what God is telling you. Make good use of the waiting time by discovering what God wants you to learn during the wait or what He wants you to notice while waiting.

Psalm 37:& says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” There is a reason why I have not left yet. I may not see it now, but someday I guarantee I will. God has definitely taught me a lesson or two in waiting patiently, and I trust Him. All I can do now is sit back, relax, and wait because we have a sovereign God. He truly is in control….of my life and yours!

Past Journal Entries

Portions of Craig’s journal at Racine County Jail written in Dec 2013 while awaiting court dates.

Entry # 19. 12/3/2013. Day 48
I thank and praise you, Lord, for what you have done with my life, what You are doing with my life, and what You will do with my life. To You I give all the glory. Amen!

Entry #20. 12/4/2013. Day 49
My mind is constantly racing about the future, especially life after prison. I’m worried about being on paper, and the strict guidelines I could be on. I’m worried that I’ll get a really strict parole officer and that all he wants me to do is fail. Lord, take away these thoughts. I need your help. This is so hard. I’m not this type of person. You know the truth and my heart. Please don’t make me suffer for the rest of my life. I want to be happy again, and not put on a fake smile. Help me, Lord! Maybe once all this court stuff is done my mind will return to normal. I just want this all to be over with.

Entry #23. 12/7/2013. Day 52
Passion. What is it? It’s the love you have for something. It’s something you will do anything for. I have a passion for leading people. I have a passion for God’s wilderness. You put those together and I have a passion for leading people in God’s wilderness. Like Moses! In the book “Jesus CEO” by Laurie Beth Jones it says “Leaders are coming out of left field with a fresh perspective. Our passion may be enough to qualify us as leaders. The call to leadership can come from many directions and in many ways: 1) burning heart – the kind of call David had – the on-fire attitude when he went to fight the giant. 2) burning bush is the surprise approach to getting someone’s attention 3) burning house – risking it all for your passion. Nearly every leader in the Scriptures had doubts at one time or another. They often felt under-qualified, forsaken, or abandoned. Yet those who were called were given the strength to carry out their mission. Then as now.” I feel I have the burning heart and house. I’m ready to give it all in my calling – or I should say in my new calling. Lord, I’m ready to be called to my new field of work I have passion for.

Entry #27. 12/11/2013. Day 56
Just found out that some of my good friends are upset with everything that is going on involving me, including being upset with me. They have heard rumors in the media world and believe all they hear. I’m disappointed and very much hurt. I’ll write them letters to try and repair their wounds. I pray God can work through all of us during this time.

Entry #28. 12/12/2013. Day 57
I wish I could run again. I can’t wait for that day to run. Soon I pray. I’ve been praying for my friends lately that they hear the actual truth and not the court room lies. I’m still hurt about how it all went down. Romans 12:19 says it best, “Don’t take avenge, but let God repay.” God knows the truth and He’s in control. I’m hurt but God will take away the pain soon, I pray.

Entry #30. 12/14/2013. Day 59
Lawyer came to see me and told me that the DA is letting us debate concurrent time. But, unfortunately, I had to plead to 1 year. The DA wants 1 year extra and we are trying for concurrent. I do not want any extra time, especially a whole year extra. Lawyer doesn’t understand why the DA hates me so much; he has something against me and I don’t know why. Be with him, Lord. It could all be over on Monday, and I pray for a t least one bit of good news during this ordeal. I trust in you, Lord. Be with all in the court case and pray for no extra time. Thank you, Lord!