November 3, 2002
THREE FOR JESUS
O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon His Name: make known
His deeds among the people.
With all the difficult days I experienced last month, the Lord
knows how to put joy in my heart. He knows how to make me dance and sing, and to rejoice in His goodness.
Today being Sunday, I made my way to the chapel for our morning
worship service. A minister from the outside who comes here every first Sunday of each month, gave his message after my chaplain
spoke first and our choir sung their anointed songs of praise.
At the end of his message, when Minister Carrington gave the
altar call, three men came forward to receive prayer and to repent of their sins and ask Christ into their heart.
I always love moments like this. Yet today was very special.
Out of these three men, one was a new man who arrived at this prison witin the past week. I don't know much about him yet,
but I will get to know him better in time.
However the other two men have been at this facility for at
least several years each. One is a practicing Jew, the other a Muslim whom I had always seen going to the mosque just about
All the brothers in our assembly were thrilled to see a Jew
and a Muslim coming forward to publicly receive Jesus as their Savior. This was a great victory! And there was surely joy
in heaven among the angels.
Afterwards I joined the rest of the congregation to give each
of these new Christians a big hug to welcome them into God's family. This has been a happy day for me.
November 4, 2002
JUST ONE VOICE
Ever since I gave my life to Jesus Christ, He has placed a
longing in my heart to reach young men and women with God's message of reconciliation and hope.
Many teenagers are presently following the same dark path I
was on. Their lives are without direction. They're oppressed and tormented with all kinds of problems and struggles. They
struggle with anger and rage; most are probably not even sure why they feel as they do.
Frankly, many of our precious youth are headed in one of two
places: to jail for breaking the law, or to an early grave because of reckless behavior.
America's prisons are filled with young people who threw away
their lives by making bad choices. Now they are living with the consequences.
Graveyards across this nation are filled with young people
who lost their lives to alcohol, other drugs, suicide, or were killed in gang fights and drive-by shootings.
Large numbers of innocent bystanders died, too, because of
kids who made bad choices and crased their cars or who decided to commit acts of violence.
Thus in the midst of a world in which so many kids are out
of control, I want to be a voice of direction and hope for them.
I desire to fulfill God's calling upon my life by being just
one of a myriad of voices of concerned Christians who want to point them down the right path.
And if God uses me to touch just one young life, then I am
thankful for this.
November 6, 2002
At approximately 9 o'clock this morning a smiling skeleton
walked out the doors of this prison. Skinny, HIV Positive, and headed for a New York City shelter, went "Brother Paulding".
Mr. Paulding is techinically a "free man" minus his parole
restrictions, his drug problem, and his schizophrenia.
Sin, crime, crack, poverty, and homelessness have taken their
chunks of flesh out of this worn-thin man. A cold winter and a crowded city shelter full of life's flops await his return.
This noisy shelter will be his "official" place of residence.
It is a place where he has to be at night and where his parole officer or the police can find him in a hurry, if necessary.
I love this man. While he was here he was faithful to attend
almost all of the chapel services and Bible studies, missing them only when he was sick.
Brother Paulding, as physically weak as he is from AIDS, and
from the years of street living which sapped so much strength from his soul, truly loves God.
I have seen him grow in the Christian faith. I witnessed his
public baptism before the congregation. We have prayed for each other and hugged and encouraged one another many times.
He is only a "babe in Christ"--a fairly new beliver. I am glad
to see him being released from prison. But my heart is also very heavy.
I have been asking the Lord to watch out for Brother Paulding.
He is like a little lamb now. There will be temptations aplenty as only a big city can provide.
With the smell of crack in the air and dope dealers covering
every busy corner, I have reason to be concerned for him.
November 7, 2002
I first wrote about "Brother Paulding" in my Journal entry
for July 22, 2002. Yesterday he was released from prison. He walked out the doors with a smile on his face. And now he is
back in New York City.
The night before he left Brother Paulding came to the chapel
to attend his last Bible Study here, and to say goodbye. We prayed for him. I wept.
A good man has gone out to a world that will not welcome him.
I pray, however, that the church does.
He has no mother to welcome him home with a hot meal. Instead
he was headed to a large shelter where bad influences abound and temptations are laid out like deadly mines.
I have been praying for my dear friend in the faith. May he
find a place of safety and refuge. I told him many times to make sure he finds a good church where the Bible is preached.
I urged him to go to Times Square Church in New York City at
West 51st Street and Broadway. A lot of "street people" can walk in and find warmth and love, and they can hear the Gospel
preached in power.
Part of my prayer for Brother Paulding is that he continues
to seek the Lord and to follow Him. That he finds other Christians to fellowship with. Also that he finds a job, and may his
I know the Lord will watch over this precious man. God is close
to the outcasts. He may have to stay in that shelter for awhile and until he gets on his feet. Yet I know he is really being
protected by a living "Shelter." The Lord is His Name.
November 11, 2002
For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of
Truly God is bringing salvation to the ends of the earth, even
right here inside of this maximum security prison that's located in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains.
This evening we had a blessed time of fellowship during our
Bible study. At this time the minister who came in from the outside, felt led to ask a new man if he wanted to repent of his
sins and place his faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord.
The young man, who happens to be Chinese, said that, yes, he
was ready to receive the Lord. So right in the middle of the study we stopped to pray for him as our teacher led him in prayer.
This prisoner, Loo*, asked Jesus to come into his heart and
to forgive him of all his sins.
Afterwards Loo's face was glowing. He seemed so happy. And
although it was his first time in a Bible class, he has been at this facility for several years.
Now we have two Chinese inmates in our fellowship. This is
It's funny how God works. Our congregation has been praying
for China. It is one of the nations we make intercessory prayers for. And since the Lord knows that because none of us can
acutally go to China to work as missionaries, the Lord allowed them to come here instead.
God is making missionaries of us without our having to go outside
of these prison walls. On November 3rd God allowed a Jew and a Muslim to be Born Again.
This place is becoming an international mission field!
November 15, 2002
Another dear Christian brother walked out the doors of this
prison today. I know he had a smile on his face that went from ear to ear, because I saw him as he was walking down the south
corridor for the last time. I was going in the opposite direction. We gave each other a big hug, and I'm looking forward to
giving him an even bigger hug when we both meet in heaven.
While I'm glad he's headed out---Wendell will be living with
his sister until he finds a place of his own---his loss will be felt here. This man was "on fire" for the Lord!
Brother Judd has a heart for souls and he runs after them.
He brought so many men to church that one day I nicknamed him the "Church Beacon". I'm serious!
He liked this nickname, and it was very fitting. At 6' 5" tall,
he towered over everyone. He shined with God's love so much that many prisoners were drawn to hom.
While he was here Wendell completely recommitted his life to
Christ. He spent several years with us and his spiritual growth was good. He sung in the choir and he was the lead singer
for many of the songs.
Before he left he was very concerned because he didn't know
any churches in his neighborhood. So I gave him the address of the Capital City Rescue Mission in downtown Albany.
Wendell comes from a background of poverty and he had a drug
problem. At the Mission he wil get some hot food and clothing, fellowship and good preaching.
He is so gifted and talented, and he loves the Lord so much
that he will be a blessing to any church he joinsl
*not his real name
November 21, 2002
A FATHER'S SON
Last week another inmate shared with me the concerns he has
for his son who's presently living with his mother in another State. This father has been in prison for twelve years. So the
contact he's had with his son has been limited.
As expected, the influence this dad has had on his child has
only been through letters, occasional telephone calls, and maybe once per year visits.
Now this father is worried because his son is at a rebellious
stage in life. He's begun to take some wrong turns with drugs. He thinks his son has joined a street gang.
This inmate was pleading with me to write to his son. He asked
me to pray for him too. I told him that I'd be willing to reach out to his child.
So after seeking the Lord's guidance as to when to write and
what to say I sat down and typed this young man a letter. I also included a printed copy of my testimony.
I had a talk with him on paper. I was gentle, but I alwo kept
it "real." I shared about my coming to prison when I was 24, and how I have since been incarcerated for more than twenty-five
I encouraged him to stay in school and to pick his friends
wisely. I also told this young man to never take his life for granted. That life is precious and that if we're not careful,
we could throw it away by hanging around with the wrong people, by experimenting with drugs, and by making bad choices.
Basically I gave him lots of things to think about. I told
this young man that, when he's older, he will never regret staying away from drugs, gangs and trouble.
I have said these same words more or less, with other men's
sons. I thank God for the chance to reach out to a young kid on the edge and maybe make a difference.
November 23, 2002
Christians need to be in prayer about the "gang" situation
in here. It's in every prison now. Men are desperate for acceptance and are looking for approval from their peers.
Lots of guys want a "reputation." The devil is more than willing
to give a man a reputation as a cold-blooded killer, but at the cost of his soul.
These gangs are like cults. To get accepted you have to prove
yourself in a variety of ways. You may even have to shed someone's blood. And once you're a member, you can never get out
other than to risk having your own blood shed, or to be forever disgraced by going into Protective Custody.
So many inmates are getting caught in this web of bondage.
Yet we Christians know that Jesus Christ can deliver and protect a man or woman who calls upon His Name.
All who want to be rescued from gang membership can be. But
it is so much easier to avoid this in the first place.
In prison gangs are luring lonely and insecure men. They are
promised power and protection as well as "respect." It is all an illusion, however.
Being in a gang is like being in a prison within a prison.
For not only is one controlled by the prison's authorities, but he must also follow all the rediculous rules of his group.
This is not freedom. It's a living hell. It is just another
lie perpetrated by the enemy of our souls who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy.
These gangs can be overcome by the power of Jesus Christ and
His Word. Prayer and fasting is needed for all those both inside and outside of prison who have joined a gang.
November 24, 2002
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in
necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10
Once again the Lord reminded me that my strength must come
from Him. In and of myself I have nothing: I am nothing. But In Christ I have the victory.
Today I was my usual "busy" self. We had our morning worship
service followed by the afternoon Bible class. Now it's evening and I am writing some letters.
In a letter I received from a friend who has a prison ministry,
she told me how inadequate she feels for what she is doing, and to do what God has called her to do.
In responding to her letter, the Holy Spirit immediately brought
to mind the above verse from Second Corinthians. I then told her that I "jumped for joy" when I read about her sense of complete
She saw this as something bad, but I see it is something that's
good. For the fact is, we are "inadequate." And this is nothing to be ashamed of.
Flesh and blood and human effort cannot accomplish anything
for God. It is only when we are completely empty of "self", and are totally dependant upon the Lord, that He has us where
He wants us (Philippians 2:13).
I told this minister to continue to allow herself to feel very
inadequate. I'm convinced that this is the ideal place for a Christian to be at.
When we feel strong, confident and capable, look out! It's
just the rotten flesh doing its religious thing. We're bettter off feeling weak and inadequate so that we have no recourse
but to cry to the Lord for help each day.
Being "weak" in ourselves is the way to win with God.
November 28 2002
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts
My Thanksgiving was uneventful and quiet. I had to work a short
while this morning to escort a sight impaired man to the infirmary for his medications. Then I had the rest of today for just
me and Jesus.
I was up long before sunrise to go into a deep time of prayer.
I wasn't expecting to get up so early. But the Holy Spirit alerted me that it was time to pray.
After breakfast I was able to stay in my cell enjoying a respite
from the usual daily routine. I was also able to do some extra Scripture reading.
Most of all, however, I was in the mood to give God a lot of
thanks. And this was not because today is the traditional American holiday of Thanksgiving. I was simply in the mood to give
the Lord much praise.
At noon we had our meal. It was humbling as we had nothing
special, just processed turkey roll. There was mashed potatoes and green peas. A tablespoon of cranberry sauce got doled out
to each man who went through the chow line. And then there was a small wedge of pumpkin pie. We were given the usual 15 to
20 minutes to consume this bland meal and then return to our cells.
I spent the afternoon typing letters. During the early evening
I was back into the Scriptures, especially reading portions of the beloved book of Revelation in which the saints are seen
around God's throne giving Him the glory and honor due His beautiful Name.
In my mind I put myself before this glorious throne. In fact,
one day I will truly be there, right in God's presence beholding his lovely face.
My heart yearns for this day.
November 29, 2002
BRIDGETTE AND COMPANY
The suffering I underwent during the month of October has been
more than compensated for. Within the past month the Lord has brought many loving Christians into my life, and He has expanded
the outreach of my testimony. Today I had a great visit with Bridgette, an "on fire for the Lord" twenty-four year old. She
wrote to me because she is doing a college paper on the subject of forgiveness. She is from South Africa and is currently
an exchange student going to school in New York City.
Normally I try to discourage visits except for a very narrow
group of close friends. However after prayer the Lord told me that this one wll be okay. It was.
We had a good time fellowshipping and talking about the Lord.
I was so encouraged in my own faith to find such a fine young lady so sold-out to God.
Bridgette's love for Jesus Christ was so evident, and her face
simply glowed as she told me what the Lord means to her and how her life has changed.
It was nice to be around someone who is so energetic, and so
filled with joy. I felt as if I were spending time with my own daughter. I am twice her age.
Bridgette's paper is due December 7th. She first heard about
my story while she was sitting in her church. The pastor was using me as an example of God's mercy. I was humbled and honored
to learn this. For I have no idea who this man is. But I praise God that other Christians are finding my story worthy to be
used to encourage others about the grace of God.
I truly am a blessed man. Christ touched me today through this
young woman who loves Him with all her heart and mind.
November 30, 2002
As this month comes to a close I thank the Lord for all He
has one, and for all He will continue to do.
Wonderful things happened in Novemeber. On November 3rd I wrote
in this Journal about several men who received Jesus as their Savior. One is a Jew, the other was a Muslilm. A third man,
who is a Gentile, has since transferred after spending about two weeks here.
As for the Jewish man and the one who was a Muslim, the Jewish
fellow (I'll call him Horace--not his real name) is growing spiritually. He is reading the Bible and enjoying it. He is asking
a lot of questions about the Scriptures and has been bold to discuss his new faith with others.
But as for the man who was a Muslim (I'll call him Abdullah),
he has not been back to the chapel since that day he publicly professed faith in Christ. There is a reason for this, however.
It is called "persecution".
I know that the members of the mosque he attended were not
pleased that he went to church. He is of small stature, only about 5' tall. He's a quiet person who mainly follows the crowd,
so to speak. This it is not surprising that, because of words said to him, he has not attended our services since.
We Christians are praying for both these men. God's word never
returns back to Him without accomplishing the pupose for which it was sent.
I believe by faith that Abdullah will come around in due time.
He may remain a "secret believer" for a long while. We don't push anyone to follow Jesus. But he is going through a struggle.
I have seen this happen before with men who were Muslims, but who heard the Gospel and placed their faith in Jesus.
God has His strong hands around both of them.