JESUS GIVES SECOND CHANCES
One night when I was contemplating on how to end my own life, something strange happened again. I say again because this is the second time in my life that it happened. I was laying in my bed in the dark, problems were everywhere in my life and in jail, and at about midnight again, for some reason which I have no idea why, I ASKED JESUS FOR HELP. I didn’t plan on doing this, in fact he was the farthest thing from my mind. Even tonight writing this article I still don’t know why I called out to JESUS. But in the middle of the night, with my entire life destroyed, I clearly called out to JESUS again for help, and BOY DID HE!
The very next day I felt much better then I had in years, or I should say in decades. Every week there were Christian volunteers who came into the jail block to do a worship session or bible reading session. Now I automatically went; I didn’t plan to go, and I didn’t even give it any thought, I just found myself going twice a week as the volunteers would continue to come into our jail while volunteering their time to spend time with us. We read the bible, we sang songs, and they preached to us to a little. The jail didn’t give them much time, but it was really helping me. This was one of those things where JESUS just kind of whispers for you to go. You have no idea why you are going there, but you go each week, and it was really helping me to feel better and better.
I was now reading the bible a lot in my room, and praise JESUS I was still alone in my cell. This gave me the peace and quiet to be able to read the bible for hours at a time without being bothered by a cell mate having either having to use the bathroom or for any other of a hundred reasons. My sentencing date was coming up soon, and my life was really changing now for the better. Once again, nobody told me to read the bible, nobody up to this point had told me much of anything about JESUS, or sinning, or salvation, but just like before, the HOLY SPIRIT just whispered to start reading it, and reading it is what I did.
I decided I would write a personal letter to my sentencing judge explaining how my life had fallen apart, and a lot of the other serious issues I was going through. The letter had a good Christian feel to it now, and when finished, it was about 3 pages long. I gave the letter to my attorney, who then forwarded it to my sentencing judge.
I wasn’t really afraid much anymore in jail, now that I was interacting with JESUS. Or I should say, the fear was going away. I now had some peace in my life for the first time in decades, and as my sentencing date drew near, I was now able to focus on and pray for a shorter sentencing then what the FBI wanted.
It had been 15 years since I first cried out to JESUS for help as a 19 year old teenager, and wow what a terrible 15 years that was. Living in pure hell for a decade and a half weighed really heavy in me at all times, but now that I was a brand new Christian, I was able to handle my situation of being locked up much better then before.
It was now sentencing day, so the jail woke me up early to give me time to get ready. I got dressed, and they escorted me to the front of the jail which we never get to see except for our court dates when they drive us to the court building. Upon entering the jail and exiting the jail, they always strip search all of the inmates. After being searched, they then shackled my legs and hands with chains and put me into their government van for the short drive to the courthouse.
Microsoft had their representatives there in court, and of course the lead FBI agents were there with the prosecutor to give the judge their opinion on how much time they thought I should do in prison. As the sentencing started, I noticed that my personal letter that I wrote to the judge happened to be in her hand. So I know she definitely read it. The prosecutors went on to tell the judge that I was a master mind criminal, and to give me the absolute maximum sentencing possible. They had explained to the judge that new laws were about to be passed in the next few months giving criminals who counterfeit software up to five years in prison. Well, when I heard that, I started to get real scared. But the judge countered the prosecutor and told him that my case was started half a year ago and that those new guidelines will not be allowed in my sentencing. Wow, I could breathe again. The female judge was allowed to sentence me anywhere from 28 months all the way up to 36 which would have been three years of my life behind bars. In some cases, a federal judge is also allowed to go outside of the sentencing guidelines and could then order any amount of time that he or she wanted for the inmate. Praise to JESUS she didn’t do this. The prosecutor demanded that I be given the maximum amount of time behind bars to set an example to others who might be thinking of committing this crime. Upon hearing him say that, I was starting to get nervous again. My attorney of course asked for the minimum. Well, praise JESUS again! The judge gave me the minimum amount of time which was 26 months. With good time included, I could be out of jail and prison in just 22 months. I had up to this point spent six months in jail, which did count towards my sentencing. That found me with 18 months to go until I could experience freedom again.
I was kept in jail about 30 more days while they waited to find out what prison I would be transferred to. I was feeling much better now. I did have some fear about which prison they would send me to, but praise JESUS for his help and blessings. After about 30 days they notified me where they would be transferring me to. Because of the fact that some of my old enemies from the last cell block could be in that prison, my sister tried to contact the Bureau of Prisons to ask them if I could be switched to a different prison. They said no, they would not consider sending me to another facility. That was JESUS once again blessing me, because of the fact that they said no, they wouldn’t transfer me, I was sent to a prison with a very strong Christian base active inside of it. After being in jail for almost seven months now, I felt more ready then ever to finally be transferred to prison. After living on that terrible jail food, and walking under those fluorescent lights for seven months, yes, I was very ready to get out of there. I was afraid, but JESUS was with me, and even though there would be some difficult times ahead, he helped me step by step to get back on to the destiny that he had planned for me since before he even created the world.
Well, the day to be transferred to prison was finally here; There would be a lot of us men going into the buses this morning, which would then drive us to our various prisons all over the West coast of the USA. They woke us up real early to get showered and dressed, then of course they would strip search us like always, and with shackles on our hands and feet, they loaded us up on the buses for the long journey ahead.
Many hours later, we were finally arriving at the prison where I would be dropped off at, and it was about dinner time too. So they brought us into a holding cell, and asked us what kind of food we wanted for dinner. When the food arrived, it was much, much better then what they had been feeding us the last seven months in jail. The higher quality of food this prison had was a piece of very good news! Because of the fact, that there were a lot of men still after my life, to my surprise, they put me in the hole right after dinner. I found myself back in the hole now not knowing what was going to happen with me at this new prison. After a few days of living in the hole, they released me to go live in the general population. I grabbed my belongings and started the long walk to the compounds where the men live. The prison was absolutely beautiful! It was more like a college campus with grass and many different kinds of trees all over the place. There were birds around at all times, and not just some birds but, many, many birds of all kinds were flying all over looking for food. With the trees, green grass and the birds, this prison had a very peaceful appearance to it. I found my way to compound C, and real quietly made my way to my cell……. Well, the administrators had me living with a Black man, which is just unheard of in prison. In prison, racism is very, very rampant, so upon entering the cell, he was shocked to see that I was Caucasian. On top of this, they found out that one of my enemies from jail was right here living next to my cell. I was rounded up by the guards and they quickly brought me back to the hole again. This time, I lived in the hole for four long weeks.
While living in the hole, the guards only gave me 1 phone call a week, which was very depressing. It was such an incredible experience to live in the hole again. This time, JESUS was with me strongly, and I was doing much better, but to keep men or women living in the hole for long periods of time is quite an experience that most people would never ever want to live through.
It was during this four week period of living in the hole, that my divorce papers had arrived. One night at about 5pm, the guard walked up to my cell, and handed me this huge package. I quickly opened it up, and was very shocked to see that my wife was now divorcing me. The same attorney that helped her to get her charges dropped, was now handling the divorce of our marriage. I never got a single warning from her that she wanted a divorce. In fact, besides the day after that she was freed from jail, I never received any information from her, as far as where she was living, or what she was doing. Upon reading the divorce documents, she was asking the courts for all of our cash, and our sports car, while leaving me with all of the bills. I didn’t know what to do, so I kept the divorce papers in my cell for a week or two trying to figure out what the next proper step in my life should be. After contemplating it for a few weeks, I decided to sign the divorce papers and mail them back to her attorney. Since I was locked up in prison, of course she completely WON in court. The judge gave her our cash, and sports car, and gave me every bill. That was the end of my marriage, and I would never hear from her again. Later on I found out that she was forced to go back to Russia for a short time because of a immigration problem, but a short time later she came back to the Seattle where she proceeded to go to school to become an attorney. She did graduate from Law school from what I learned and is a full attorney now.
They gave the men living in the hole up to four books a week, so you had to choose your books real carefully, because it would be all you would get till the following week. There was no TV in the tiny cells, no magazines, and most of us including myself didn’t have a radio to listen to, so the books that you chose to read, would be the only outlet to pass the long hours and days. It was during this stay in the hole, that my brother living in Las Vegas had mailed to me a wonderful brand new bible. So now I had my own custom bible to read which really helped matters considerably.
While living in the hole, many times or I should say quite often, you would hear the other men screaming all kinds of different profanities to the guards or to anyone else they thought was listening. On one occasion, the prisoner living in the cell next to mine started acting really crazy over a three day period. He was ranting and raving about all kinds of crazy things. He wasn’t listening to the guards, and even though they warned him a few times, he kept on being defiant towards them. After a few days of this, the guards got suited up in their protective riot gear, wearing full body armor from head to toe, and they went into the mans cell and beat him real badly. His cell was right next to mine; I felt like I had lived through that entire ordeal myself during those terrible three days. After they beat him for a while, he then became a perfect inmate over the next few weeks until I was let out of the hole.
The four weeks passed by, and I was released to general population again. The administrators said that it should be perfectly safe to go back to general population, I guess that means they did a full investigation and found out that it would be safe for me. I started the long walk back to cell block C again. This time I was living with two other Caucasian men in the same cell. With three men in the cell, it was almost impossible to get any sleep. Someone was always either getting up to use the bathroom, or waking up to get ready for work. It took almost two weeks, but I got transferred out of that cell as fast as I could into a normal two man cell. I couldn’t believe it, they put me in a cell with a Black man again! I don’t know what the administrators were trying to do, or what JESUS had in mind here, but the other Black men in the cell block were not happy about this one bit. Now I wasn’t racist at all, in fact not only was my step dad black, but throughout my life, a lot of my best friends were Black too. It was the Black men in the cell block who were racist and had a huge problem with this. After transferring out of that cell into another one, I then found out that there was a cell downstairs for sale. My sister came to visit me in prison, which was a very long trip from Southern California to Oregon, but she flew in on the airplane to visit me which was very nice of her. We had a good talk, even though the visiting time just went by toooooo fast. During our talk, I mentioned to her what was going on in the cell block with racism, and I told her that there was a jail cell for sale. She offered to buy the cell for me, so upon returning back home, she sent the money onto my books, so I could then use the money to pay for the cell. You don’t get to hold cash in prison, what they do is they put the money on your prison books. This is a way to keep a financial record of how much money you can spend in the commissary. All of this happened in the first few weeks of living in the cell block after being released from the hole.
A day or two later, I was walking back to my cell block, when I looked up and saw this HUGE man, who was obviously a native American Indian staring at me. He had a huge smile on his face which looked kind of strange to me. I walked by him to try to find what cell they would put me in this time. I didn’t know if he was truly saying hello, or if he was another of the crazy maniacs in here. So at this point, I kept walking right by him probably with a strange facial expression on my own face too. I had no idea at the time, but he was going to be my best friend during the next year while being locked up together in prison. His name was Fast horse, and he was a full blood 100% Dakota Indian which is very, very rare to find in the USA. He looked as much like a Indian man as anyone that you might ever see on TV, with the typical long black hair that always had a red bandanna wrapped around it. Fast horse wasn’t a Christian, in fact not even close, but it was amazing how many times JESUS was going to talk through him to me over the next year. Fast horse believed like a lot of other Indians in the natural spirit world, or the spirits of nature and the earth, so of course he was as far away from JESUS as he could be. This didn’t bother me at all, because of the fact that we were able to get along so well. I could easily say that he was the best friend that I ever had in my life. Unfortunately, a few months after I was released from the prison, Fast horse first attacked a female guard, and then he proceeded to run over to her desk, grab a few pens, and stab himself in the neck bringing a quick end to his own very hard, miserable and bitter life.
My first day out of the hole, I was able to find a friend that I knew back in jail named Kelly. He quickly told me that there was a church service tonight and that I should go for sure to meet all of the men. Well, I didn’t know how to get there or what any of the other rules were in the prison for walking around. At 6pm when church started, I walked quickly to the building where all of the men met, but the guards wouldn’t let me in. they told me that each inmate only has 10 minutes to get to a location, but after 10 minutes if I didn’t arrive at my new location, I would then have to turn around and go back to my cell block. Well being the fact that I didn’t know this, of course I was about 20 seconds too late to be allowed into the church. So my plan was this, I would go back to the cell block, but at 7pm when church was ending, I would walk real fast to the church just to say hello to a few people. So at 10 minutes to 7pm when the very loud alarm sound went off, this time I quickly walked to the church to find my old friend from jail. Walking inside, everyone looked like they were doing real good, and my friend Kelly from jail introduced me to a few of his new friends. Remember though, we only had 10 minutes to get to each location, so we did about a 2 minute hello to everyone, and then we had to quickly walk back to our own cell blocks. Kelly lived in cell block D right next to mine, so we walked back together to our own cell blocks for the night.
I was sound asleep early in the morning, when I thought I heard my last name blaring on the loud speaker. I wake up and think to myself, I must be dreaming. So I fell back asleep quickly, but there it was again! Now my heart was beating really fast because I had no idea what was wrong this time. I got dressed quickly, and reported to the guards to find out what is going on. Well, I found out that I wasn’t in trouble, but that they wanted to put me to work outside raking up leaves all morning. They had many trees all over the grounds and guess what? It was fall time and the leaves were falling down onto the grass by the thousands. All new inmates who weren’t assigned a job yet, were all called on the loudspeakers to report to the guard shack to rake up leaves. They handed me an old rake, and pointed to where they wanted me to go to start cleaning up the leaves. Ummm after being quite wealthy just seven months earlier, I wasn’t happy about raking up dirty leaves on the grass. Praise JESUS, in all his wisdom because it was with raking leaves outside on the beautiful grounds, and seeing the wonderful birds everywhere, that his HOLY SPIRIT taught me how to start praying.
I found myself outside early in the morning in the freezing cold, with a rake in my hands raking up leaves. So much for the master mind criminal that the prosecutor called me in court. Looking over my life this cold early morning, realizing that I have been delegated in life to cleaning up leaves, made me feel pretty sad. Praise to JESUS, because in the near future, JESUS would assign me in life to doing a lot more then just raking up leaves, but JESUS had to undo all of the bad and evil that the world had taught me to do up to this point so far in my life. Now out of nowhere, I hear a man calling my name! I didn’t even look up because I just assumed it was one of my enemies from jail. I was expecting a few enemies to jump me at any second, so I was feeling pretty scared now. I just kept on raking up leaves ignoring him, in fact, I never even looked up to see who it was calling out my name.. He continued to call out my name a few more times, but I still didn’t look at up him. He then called my name one more time, and I looked up to see who it was. It was the man from church the night before. He had a huge smile on his face probably because he knew I was afraid. He just wanted to say hello to me, and to let me know that he was there for me if I needed any help. Praise JESUS! What I needed at that time was a new friend, and JESUS being GOD, sent me another friend this morning. His name was Bobby, and although he lived in a different cell block, over the next year I would be hanging out with him on a regular basis at church, and out in the yard lifting weights each night. So now I was friends with Fast horse, and Bobby my new Christian friend. Bobby had been in the prison system for a very long time. When he was much younger, he was actually a somewhat famous criminal whom a lot of us heard about on TV. After showing good behavior throughout all the years, Bobby was able to work his way out of the penitentiary to a medium class prison which was where we were at now. I was feeling so sad while raking up leaves, that Bobby just saying hello to me, was a great blessing that really uplifted me.
Fast horse was one of the leaders of all the Indian men in prison, in fact he might have been the main leader, I wasn’t exactly sure, and Bobby was a very popular Christian in the prison, so JESUS gave me a good head start here, and he surrounded me with the friends and people that I would need to make it through my time in prison.
Up to this point, JESUS himself had told me to read the bible, led me to go to the church services in jail without anybody ever inviting me, and he also taught me how to pray. Now I was blessed again by JESUS when the prison gave me a permanent job. I was to rake up leaves from 12:30 noontime to 1:30. While all the other men in the prison had to get up early in the morning to go to work, and to proceed to work 9 hours a day. I on the other hand was able to sleep late, and I only had to work 1 hour a day. This was a great blessing. Almost immediately upon starting my new job as a groundskeeper, JESUS whispered to me to start praying for my family and myself. So each day, as I raked up the leaves in the sunshine, I would spend almost the entire time praying for my family and myself, and the peace of spending this time with JESUS was wonderful. At this exact same time, I came across a few wonderful books that my brother in Las Vegas had mailed to me. The books would teach me some of the most important principals on abiding in JESUS and practicing the presence of JESUS. All of this was so new to me, so while reading both books, and learning about all of the wonderful things that I could work on now, I was feeling better and better. Yes I was still depressed about being locked up prison. Yes I was still very sad about losing two years of my freedom, but as I read Merlin Carothers books on worshiping, and as I read Brother Lawrence’s book on practicing the presence of GOD, I was slowly starting to feel like my life now had a purpose. Like my life now had a good solid direction to it. Both of the above mentioned men are long since dead, but JESUS in all his power and sovereignty, was able to get the exact books that I needed to read into my hands. By sending me those books, JESUS could slowly turn me into the man of GOD that JESUS wanted me to be. Yes, I was still depressed and a complete emotional wreck, but the healing process was already started by JESUS in my life, and slowly, ever so slowly, I was starting to feel more and more complete.
We had church services to go to every Monday and Thursday nights, which gave us Christian men something to do, and of course every Sunday night was the main church worshiping service. Each of the three nights saw different volunteers come into the prison to either preach to us, or study the bible with us, or lead us by playing and performing worship music. I always looked forward to those three nights so I could participate in all of the Christian activities. I don’t think I ever missed a single church event during my entire stay in prison, except for when I caught the flu.
With JESUS’ help, I found myself working out a real powerful routine. Nobody told me to make a powerful routine, JESUS just taught me himself how to do it. I would wake up at about 10:30 am in the morning, take a shower and get dressed just in time for lunch at 11am. After I ate lunch, I would walk out to the yard with my Sony Walkman in my hand, just looking at the wonderful clouds in the sky and the birds flying all around. I would put Christian music on my radio and slowly walked laps around the entire yard for a full hour every day. Men would be lifting weights or playing basketball, while I listened to the brand new Christian songs on my radio. I also used this time to pray a little too, I say a little because after all I was still a brand spanking new Christian. I used the words brand new Christian songs, because up to this point I had never heard any Christian music in my entire life. I don’t even know how I was able to find the Christian radio station. I didn’t plan on finding it, I didn’t purposely look for it, it was just JESUS himself once again taking me by his powerful loving hand and showing me what to do next. After spending the one hour walking laps around the prison compound, I then found myself going straight to the church building where they had about 50 Christian videos that the men were allowed to watch. There were Christian music videos, and a lot of preaching and even some great movies too. I have to mention one more time, that nobody in the prison told me to do this, but this was JESUS himself showing me what we Christians are suppose to do on a daily basis to have a good healthy relationship with HIM. There were the movies on David, and Moses, Joseph and about another 20 movies that the men could check out at any time to watch in the TV VCR combo units that we had. I started to watch TD Jakes videos quite often, they were really helping me and educating me at the same time. Up to this point, I had no idea what It meant to be a Christian, or just about anything else having to do with JESUS, but TD Jakes had his full set of preaching videos in all of the prisons across the USA, including the prison I was in. It was an excellent blessing by JESUS to put me into a prison with such a strong Christian base. After watching the videos, movies or Christian concerts for one hour, I then went back to my cell where I would usually read my books or bible or any other Christian literature I could get my hands on. I was now in a learning frenzy where I was compelled by JESUS to learn as much as I possibly could about who HE is, and who we Christians are and what was expected of us now that we have accepted JESUS into our lives. A few hours later it would be dinner time, where I would always hang out with Fast horse walking to the prison kitchen together. After dinner, if it was one of the three church nights, I would then go straight from our prison kitchen to church which happened to be right next to the kitchen. After church of course, my friends and myself would always lift weights out in the yard. Lifting weights in the summertime was a very pleasurable experience, but in the winter time with the ice and snow, that was a whole different story. Every night I hung out with fast horse cooking snacks to eat, and talking about one thousand different topics and subject until it was time for lock down. Lock down was when the guards gave us ten minutes to get to our cells for the rest of the night. I did this exact routine for the entire time I lived in prison, and I noticed that the days were flying by one after another and that I was feeling better and being transformed into a brand new person by JESUS.
I tell you, time is a very strange thing. I only had just a little over a year to do in prison. On the one hand, one year of prison time seemed like it would be an eternity. On the other hand, the days were really flying by. Its hard to explain, but when I focused on all of the bad things in my life, including being locked up in prison, my terrible past, and all that I had lost or was taken from me, it seemed like I still had an eternity to go until I would be released. But on the other hand, if I prayed, worshiped JESUS, went to church three nights a week and studied a lot, then it seemed like the days were flying by. I prayed to JESUS all the time to please have the days fly by like the wind, and they really did. Day after day, week after week, and month after month, JESUS not only protected me and kept me safe, but he also provided the friends that I needed. He supplied all of my provisions, and even the exact specific books, movies, and videos that he wanted me to watch or read he supernaturally got into my hands through various different means.
I received my Sister’s money onto my books, so as quickly as I could, I talked to the Mexican guys who were selling the cell. They moved me into their cell, while at the same time they moved out to other cells, which then left me alone in the cell. They gave me a huge list of items that they wanted me to buy for them in the commissary. I kept the list, and now decided who I would move into my cell to live with me. Well, of course I was going to choose Fast horse. I went into the administrators office to request that they move Fast horse into my cell, but then the unexpected happened. The cell block manager said no to me, and he turned down my request. That was un heard of in prison, usually if you wanted your friend to move into your cell, it was an automatic approval, but not this time. JESUS had other plans here who would be living with me and I was going to find out exactly what they were very shortly from now. I spent that night alone in my cell, which was of course a great blessing. The next day, I was walking back to my cell from the church where I was probably watching Christian videos, and upon entering my own cell, I found that somebody else had moved in without my permission. Once again, that was un heard of in prison. Nobody ever moved into a cell without notifying the person who owned the cell first. Well, there he was. He was a very short, older Mexican man named Johnny. He was of course hooked up with the gangs in prison, and he was working his way down from the penitentiaries where he had lived for most of his life. Why on earth would JESUS have this man move into my cell without my permission, and yet at the same time, bypass my best friend Fast horse?. At dinner time, I gave Fast horse the bad news, that first of all they had said no, you cannot move in with me, and to top it all off, they moved in a complete stranger into my cell without my permission. Johnny told me that he had gone to the cell block manager to ask permission to move into my cell, and to please allow him to stay. I guess he was having a lot of trouble with his old cell mate and he didn’t want to go back to his old cell. So he calmed me down somewhat by promising to be quiet or whatever else he promised at the time. Too bad he never kept any of his promises to me. A few of the main reasons that JESUS had Johnny move into my cell, was to humble me first of all, and to teach me patience among quite a few other things too. Johnny would purposely walk around the cell making a lot of noise! Basically speaking, he was very lonely and just wanted me to wake up so as to have someone to talk to. He would do all sorts of things to really push my patience and pride to its limits. Of course I had a huge pride problem still, and yes I thought I was better then everyone else still at this time in my life. So, because of Johnny’s reputation and how he was respected in prison by the Latin population, I basically had to keep quiet for the entire ten months that we ended up living together. He would come into our cell with the vacuum cleaner blaring loud early in the morning when he knew I was sleeping, or he might come barging into our cell while I was sleeping with other equipment to make as much noise as possible. One of his favorite things to do was, to constantly flush the toilet while I was sleeping. In prison, they have super, super powerful toilets where you could even flush down fruit or food. So, yes they were very loud! For ten months I had to practice extreme patience, and kindness and the LORD was really humbling me. Sure, I did lose my temper with Johnny from time to time, but praise JESUS nothing bad ever came of it. It is sad to say, but the last time I lost my temper with him, we were never able to make up before he was released from prison. Johnny was released from prison about three months before me. The night before he was to be released, I wanted to say something to him along the lines of making up, but I didn’t. He got up at about 6am in the morning the day of his release, he packed up his items, he opened our cell door, stared at me for about 10 second never saying a word, and he just left. I know he wanted to make up, and so did I, but I guess I was just too new with the LORD and I wasn’t able to at that time in my life.
Johnny was very old, and he was sick quite often, which also led him to get into some very bad moods. He was a hardened criminal who had done some of the most terrible things in prison to other men when he was a little younger. On one of the occasions when he was being exceptionally mean, I talked to one of my Christian brothers about the situation out in the yard, while we were sitting up in the football stands. Together, we cried out to JESUS for help with Johnny and myself. That day, walking back to my cell in the afternoon, Johnny was very friendly all of the sudden, and we were able to get along good for a while. Praise JESUS for answering our prayer!
The last time I was in the hole, I was celled up with a leader of one of the Mexican gangs in prison. Well, his gang happened to be enemies with Johnny’s gang. One night, I guess Johnny saw me talking to that other gang leader and it really bothered him. So what did Johnny do? He had one of his gang members threaten me right in front of the guards outside by the basketball courts. After being threatened, I quickly found Johnny and said to him, what on earth are you doing? He pretended at first that he didn’t know what I was talking about, then he kind of smiled, then he said don’t worry, I take care of it and tell them to leave you alone. This was only one example among 50 that Johnny would do to cause some mischief. Well praise JESUS, I was able to practice being humble, and patient even to the extreme.
One time I came down with the flu. Not just any flu, but this was so bad, I just about died. For two weeks I was stuck in my bed too weak to be able to move. I am sure I lost weight during this, and Fast horse and another of my friends kept coming by my cell to find out if I was going to be OK. Of course I told them that I was deathly sick, and I did just about die. Johnny on the other hand didn’t believe me. So he would come into the cell making noise, and causing trouble and saying some of the most ridiculous things. He just didn’t want to believe me that I was truly very sick, or he just wasn’t able to have compassion. One night he was telling me to stop faking being sick or whatever other nonsense he would say, when I got angry. I then proceeded to pray to JESUS to give Johnny this exact same kind of flu. Mind you, this was by far the worse flu I had ever had. Guess what, about two days later, Johnny now had the flu too! Now he was stuck in bed deathly sick. Now he couldn’t move much or eat either. Praise to JESUS for humbling Johnny a little bit too.
Living with Johnny for around 10 months gave us a lot of time late at night to talk about different stories and experiences that we both had lived through in our lives. He told me about some of the terrible things he had done in prison when he was younger, and about how hard his life has been spending most of his adult life locked behind bars. On a few different occasions, I had brought up to him how willing JESUS would be to forgive his sins if he just repented. But as soon as I started mentioning JESUS and repentance, Johnny would start to scream out real loud like he was in terrible pain. This scared the you know what out of me. I had no idea what was happening to him. After about three minutes of terrible screaming, he would slowly calm down over the period of about ten minutes. He told me that he felt a terrible pain inside of him. 15 minutes had passed by and I proceeded to bring up JESUS and repentance to him again. Immediately he started screaming again. He was laying in his bed in terrible pain. I think this even happened a third time. I guess the evil spirits inside of Johnny didn’t want him to hear about JESUS or repentance, and they were causing him to be in some terrible pain each time I brought it up. Johnny knew I was hanging out in church a lot, in fact the entire prison knew because they saw me there all the time, but he just didn’t want to have JESUS in his life. During the ten months that we lived together, I did talk to him about the bible, and church and JESUS on many different occasions, but at that time in his life, he just wasn’t ready. Up to the point of his release day from prison, he still had not invited JESUS into his life.
It was now commissary day where all the men in the prison were allowed to wait in line to buy all of the different food items and clothing that we might be willing to purchase. I had the huge list of items that the two Mexican gang members wanted me to get for them to pay for my cell. The problem was, it was too much money to spend at one time. I wasn’t able to get everything they wanted per commissary spending rules, so I had to delete a few items from their list. Uh oh, I was in trouble now. One of the men whom I purchased the cell from wanted to beat me up real badly, but he was afraid of what the other Caucasian men would do in the prison. So, instead of him harming me, he went to the leader of his gang to complain about what I did. Now the leader of this specific Mexican gang had one of his officers summon me to his cell. I was sitting down talking with Fast horse when this man came up to me and told me that I needed to go see his leader in his cell. So obviously I was in a lot of trouble. I first went to my cell to put my shoes on, because I was wearing sandals at the time, and then he escorted me to the cell of his leader. Upon entering the gang leaders cell, he told me to sit down, and to explain to him why I didn’t get all of the items that were on my list. Praise JESUS, I explained to him that the commissary had a spending limit and that they cut me off until two weeks later when I would be allowed to spend money again. He believed me and told me that he would smooth everything over for two weeks and that there would be no trouble at all. He also warned me, that in two weeks from now to make sure I bought all of the items on the food list for his gang members. I told him I would for sure, and that I was sorry about the mix-up. Obviously two weeks later I quickly bought all of the missing items that they had ordered through me and got it to the men ASAP. Right after I gave the two men the last items that I owed them for the cell that I bought, JESUS had that trouble maker gang member shipped out almost immediately. This was something JESUS had done for me between 4-5 times with my enemies in prison. JESUS had them all quickly shipped out, one after another when different men in jail and prison tried to harm me or to cause trouble with me. The power of the LORD was really amazing to see. Each time a man tried to cause some trouble with me, I noticed that he was shipped out of our prison to another prison in no time at all. In some cases, even a few days later. If GOD is with us, who can be against us?
Eating dinner in the kitchen could be a little bit stressful from time to time. After all, there were hundred’s of other criminals all eating there too separated by nationality. Sorry is the man who sat down at the wrong location in the kitchen even on an accident. One time, one of my friends who had just entered the prison a few days earlier and didn’t know the kitchen rules yet, sat down at the tables where the Islander’s all sit, bad mistake! They seriously threatened him, and if I remember correctly, he came to me so we could pray for his safety. The LORD did protect him! That is when JESUS told me what to do. Any night where I felt a little bit of anxiety walking into the kitchen, HE told me to say ( The LORD is My Strength). Well I did this, and it was very powerful, and it is still VERY powerful today. As our cell block would walk along the concrete sidewalk heading up into the kitchen, I would start saying to myself, the LORD is my strength, the LORD is my strength. I noticed as soon as I would speak this to myself, I found that I immediately had much more courage inside of me. What a wonderful blessing it was to learn this Christian principal from JESUS himself!
The weather was getting better now, and a lot of the men were playing basketball during the day and night time out in the yard. Even though they played extremely rough, it still looked like fun. Every night after dinner now, a few of my friends and myself would play basketball against another group of men. Sometimes they won, and a lot of the time we won, but one of the Aryan Brotherhood members who was playing with us decided all of the sudden that he would try to hurt me. He threatened me a few times when we would be randomly passing each other in the hallways or wherever. That last time I saw him, he threatened me right after dinner out at the entrance to the basketball courts, this was the very last time I ever saw him. JESUS had him shipped out of the prison a very short time later.
One of my enemies from jail seven months earlier, who claimed to be a Christian, was also living in the prison I was in. In fact, he lived in my same cell block as I did. I always stayed out of his way, but he tried very hard to cause a lot of trouble for me. He went up to some of the African American leaders and proceeded to tell lies about me to them. Well, of course they believe him, now they were threatening me too. This same supposed Christian man, now went up to a few of the Indians in prison, and told them some similar lies about me too. Some of the Indian men came up to me and asked me if there was any truth to what they were hearing about me. I told them that everything they were hearing about me were all lies and that I had no idea why that person was trying to cause so much trouble for me. The Indian men seemed to believe me, and since everyone knew that Fast horse was my best friend, that problem went away thank GOD. The black members who were threatening me now, never did a single thing to me. I never heard a problem from them again, and they never said another word to me again. I guess JESUS in his incredible wisdom, was allowing these things to happen to me for all of his various reasons. That same above mentioned Christian man, who hated me from the time he saw me in jail over one year ago, still seemed to hate me now. Every time we played basketball together, he always made sure he was on the other team. Most of the time when we passed each other in the prison, he would often give me some evil looks. We both had some of the same friends, but he just hated me for whatever reasons he had. Far in the future, about one week before my release date, we were all in church together one night when I got the surprise of my life. A the very UN expected thing happened next. That same man who had caused me all of the trouble in jail and prison, now walked up to the front of the church, and apologized to me in front of everyone! After apologizing to me, and saying a few nice things about me, he then walked right up to me and gave me a huge hug. I was in SHOCK. The power of JESUS is just amazing. JESUS can make our enemies love us, JESUS can have our enemies sit down with us and have dinner. JESUS can also ship out some enemies to other prisons in the blink of an eye. During all of my time in jail and prison, not a single person ever touched me. Over and over again, JESUS had protected me and blessed me and showed incredible favor to me in jail and prison.
Upon arriving in prison, and going to church for the three different services we had each week, a strange thing happened again. Well, the two nights during the week, there was no worship music for the men to sing to, before church started. JESUS knowing that I was a good musician, once again supernaturally led me to start putting together a worship band. The church had the equipment in the closet, and when we asked for permission to use it, the head Pastor said "yes, go ahead". The first thing I did was, to start practicing about 20 different Christian songs ranging from all different types of music. Once I had them all memorized I started to recruit other band members. What started out with just a few of us playing music before each church event, turned into a full band with about five men singing in the choir at the time that I was released from the prison one year later. Nobody had told me to put together a worship band, this was just JESUS once again supernaturally leading me down the road where he wanted me to be. When I arrived in prison, the men were singing without music, wow was that pure torture to listen to. I couldn’t handle listening to the men singing without any music, it was just too terrible to hear. JESUS really blessed us during that year with our music and worshiping of him. We would rehearse every Monday afternoon the five songs that we were going to perform a few hours later after dinner. Our rehearsals always went terrible. If it wasn’t our pride, it was our ego’s. if it wasn’t our ego’s getting in the way, then it was a whole bunch of other bad emotions causing us to argue and rebel during our rehearsals. I taught the men how to arrange the songs, and wrote beginnings and endings to all of the songs, but pride and arrogance always got in the way. But, on Monday night, the most amazing thing would happen week after week after week. No matter how bad our rehearsals would go, the HOLY SPIRIT would then supernaturally help us every Monday night to the point that our worship music would be performed actually quite well. That was a super natural miracle that GOD did for us over and over and over again. The Christian men who attended the Monday night services, had no idea whatsoever that just a few hours earlier, our band was arguing over the simplest of things. All the men heard on Monday nights, was some pretty darn good worship music somehow coming out of our instruments and voices. What a miracle that was.
I was giving piano lessons in the day time, and guitar lessons to some of the men at night. At the same time, I made sure to keep learning new Christians songs myself. I was probably the best guitarist in the entire prison, and when a lot of the men heard me playing once in a while, they kind of got a new respect for me. A lot of the different men wanted to play with me in the music rehearsals rooms which I gladly did from time to time.
To see our worship band grow and mature during that one year of being locked up in prison, was such a great blessing. All of the men in the prison no matter if they were Christian or Muslim, all knew how hard I was working for the church in a bunch of different areas. Many times when the Muslims would walk by me, they would comment on such things. Praise to JESUS! All of that incredibly hard work I had done on learning the guitar from ages 18-28, he now used for his glory in prison. From ages 15-28 all I ever wanted to be was a rock star. I had put in thousands of hours of practice on guitar and piano hoping that one day my own band would be able to get a recording contract. Praise JESUS that HE had other plans for me. And in prison, the men had music!
After I was released from prison as a free man, my friends wrote to me and told me that the church band and choir slowly fell apart. I fully trust that in no time at all, there will be a new man that JESUS would be bringing to the prison, who will have the anointing to put together another band and choir, so that JESUS will make sure that the men can worship him with music! After all of these years that have passed by since I was released from prison, I am continually writing letters to a few of my friends who are still living in prison. It is a great joy to pray for them every night.After I was released from prison as a free man, my friends wrote to me and told me that the church band and choir slowly fell apart. I fully trust that in no time at all, there will be a new man that JESUS would be bringing to the prison, who will have the anointing to put together another band and choir, so that JESUS will make sure that the men can worship him with music! After all of these years that have passed by since I was released from prison, I am continually writing letters to a few of my friends who are still living in prison. It is a great joy to pray for them every night.
At about the half way point of my one year stay in prison, I met a young man named Damian. He was Caucasian with long black hair, and he kind of hung out around me a little bit because he saw me playing guitar a few different times. Damian didn’t know how to play guitar at the time, so he was always interested to find out what was going on. He was also friends with my friend Kelly from jail, and both of them lived together next door to my cell block. As a few months went by, Damian and myself would walk past each other from time to time very briefly saying hello to one another. During one of these occasions, JESUS opened up a door for me to talk to Damian about eternity and salvation. Well, Damian wasn’t quite ready to accept JESUS into his life, in fact he went on to argue with me about how everything that I believed in was all false. he tried to explain to me that we evolved from animals, and that everything that exists was all a random chance event.
Damian would always walk real slowly by our church on Monday nights on his way out to the yard. GOD used music and guitar playing to pique Damian’s curiosity about what we were doing in church. One time, Damian and myself decided to meet outside at the yard by the weights to have a debate on all GODLY matters. I asked a friend of mine to join me and to help me to talk to Damian. During our one hour talk, everything went smoothly as we debated and answered all of Damian’s questions and points. He still wasn’t ready at that time to invite JESUS into his life, but he was very curious to hear our answers.
Only a week or two later, Damian and myself were walking out of the kitchen after dinner back to our cell blocks. We both would walk the same concrete path because our cell blocks were once again right next to each other. As we were exiting the kitchen, I had made a few Christian comments to him, but for some reason he got really angry at me. He started calling me names and went on yelling in front of all the other prisoners that I was a fake Christian. Uh oh, when he said that I also lost my temper. The guards were standing right there to make sure that a fight didn’t start, because we were screaming at each other as we continued our walk back to our cells. I went straight into my cell feeling terribly. The HOLY SPIRIT was showing me how wrong I was to act that way, and that I needed to apologize to Damian as fast as I could. I sat in my cell for one hour waiting for the next ten minute movement. At 7pm they sounded the loud horn which meant we had ten minutes to move now to the next location. I quickly exited my cell block and looked over at the front door of Damian’s cell block, low and behold, he was walking outside looking for me. We didn’t know it at the time, but we had both made a plan to walk outside to find each other to apologize. I told him I was really sorry for my part of the entire argument, and then Damian apologized me to for his half and we were friendly with each other again.
Damian and I started playing indoor tennis together on the indoor basketball courts. I was a little better then him at the time so I would always give him a few points to start out with to make the game fair. We always had a bet for each game, and here was the bet. If I won the game, Damian had to come to church and spend the hour in church with us, but if he won, he wanted me to buy him food from the commissary. Well, Damian NEVER won! Each loss found Damian in church that night or the next church night listening to the wonderful Christian worship music and the preaching from the volunteer staff members. I didn’t know it at the time, but JESUS was really moving in Damian’s heart. As we continued to play indoor tennis, and as Damian continued to lose game after game after game to me, JESUS was using this as an opportunity to get Damian into the church and to show Damian just how much HE loved him. We changed from playing indoor tennis to racquetball now on the outdoor courts. Praise JESUS, I was much better then Damian J Sure, I gave him a few points head start, but JESUS had a plan here in Damian’s life and I won ALLLLL of the games. During this time when we would bet on our indoor tennis games or racquetball games, some of the other Christians had come to me to complain about my methods of getting Damian involved in the church. They told me that betting with Damian was a terrible way of getting Damian to come to church, well JESUS disagreed and now Damian’s soul and spirit are saved for eternity in Paradise!
At the time I left prison as a free man, Damian still hadn’t give his life over to the LORD JESUS. After I was free, and living on my own for a few months, I received a letter from Damian. He was now writing to me from a different prison. I guess he was transferred to a prison much closer to his home state. I opened the letter and found myself in complete shock. Not only had Damian invited JESUS into his life, but he then went on for two entire pages thanking me over and over again for all that I did for him in prison. I didn’t do it, JESUS just used me as a vessel to bring Damian into his loving arms. Damian continued in the letter to tell me how he was reading the bible now, and how he was praying all the time. Even though he was temporarily located in a terrible jail, waiting to be transferred to his next prison, he expressed to me the joy and hope and happiness he was now feeling inside of him. This was the best letter I had ever received in my entire life. Even almost ten years later, I still think about all of times I was with Damian in prison and the beautiful letter that he wrote to me after he accepted JESUS into his heart and soul. Right now Damian is still locked up in prison, but he is walking with JESUS and the LORD is even using Damian to talk to other men in the prison about HIM.
It was at about the time that I had met Damian, when I found myself one day walking from the yard, back to my cell block. It was a seven minute walk from the yard back to the cell blocks, and that is if you walked quickly. When I was about half way back to my cell clock and just before I entered the guard shack where they searched us for weapons, JESUS caught my attention. He said to me something like, are you happy? I started to investigate myself, or what I mean is, I took a good look at how I was feeling. I searched myself inside and out, and I couldn’t believe it. For the very first time in my life, I was actually happy that day. Even though I was locked up in prison, even though I was to lose two years of my life behind bars, and even though there was always a sense of danger in prison at all times, I was actually happy that day. Am I not saying that I was happy every day in prison, NO WAY! The days in prison experiencing happiness were few and very far between, but that day I was happy, and my LORD and my GOD wanted to point that out to me, that I did feel happy inside today. After all of the years of living on this cold, dark earth in complete emotional torture and pure misery, how funny it was to have my very first day of happiness while living in prison, praise JESUS!
Continue to CHAPTER 5