I'm not going back to prison
April 14, 2005
For more than a decade-and-a-half, I have been in and out of prisons throughout Michigan.
I've spent more time behind bars than I care to think about. I've been in the highest security institutions, as well as the lowest. And, it was all because of a friend of mine, Ken Alexander. He roped me into a lifestyle where I became all too familiar with the Michigan Department of Corrections.
Being "inside" changed my life. That's where I saw Jesus, face-to-face and where my heart was worked on in a major way.
But . . .
Now, I'm out and I'm probably not going back. I was never an inmate, but an in-prison volunteer.
The reason I'm not going back is not for any negative reason, but a whole lot of life circumstances and situations that have changed. I'll miss it, no doubt. I'll miss the guys. I've even been in a few women's institutions. But, it's time for a change. I need to take what I've learned and live it outside prison.
I'll miss Ken. He's living testimony that God can take any negative situation and turn it into something positive for him. Ken's life has been a reflection of the love of Jesus Christ and that great gift of hope he gave us on Easter. I can't count the number of guys that he has looked in the eyes and told them not to give up. There's real hope, he always assured them. If God could change him through Jesus, then, it could happen for anybody in any situation.
Those memories which run from prisons in the west end of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, to the Marquette prison and downstate to all the others, got started at the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia where Ken was invited to give his testimony. This is the place where he did five years.
He invited me along and I went to support a friend and out of curiosity and for bragging rights to say I was inside a major state prison. That one time changed me forever.
Inside the chapel in the prison yard, I'll never forget singing "Victory In Jesus" with the guys. It was like God had a megaphone on my heart and was trying to send me a strong message. I knew I had to come back. Every preconceived notion I had about felons was smashed.
About the time I left eighth grade, I started grabbing for the handles of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and could never find them. Church didn't help and, in fact, I think it hindered that effort. But, inside that prison chapel with walls filled with bullet holes, the path to Jesus was clearer. I could see him.
There were no pretenses with these guys, or, at least, not as many as you see on the outside. Nobody was there because they won a sales contest or an election. They were searching for a way out of the lives that got them there.
I participated in small groups, then led them and then started leading weekend seminars with other volunteers. I saw more of Jesus. And, I became more excited and my faith became more real.
That brings me to now. I'm starting a new life, at least, a new job life. I've retired from the state of Michigan and I've formed a consulting business with my son. I'm now a blog strategist for www.mycapitalweb.com. Ken has some heavy responsibilities at the church where he is on staff.
We can't put everything into it that we did before. So, it's time to do something different. Maybe God is calling us to take our mission and our witness about him to the outside.
That's why today, I'm taking "prisons" off the masthead of this blog.
I thank God for the privilege of going inside. Now, it's time to concentrate outside. I'm listening for his direction.