Lyle shuffled into the county jail wearing shackles, a waist chain, and cuffs around his wrists. As the officer prepared to escort Lyle to his cell, he called out, "Clear the corridor! Dead man walking."
"And my gut just clenched up," Lyle says. "The reality of what I was facing was there."
Lyle expected to die in the electric chair. Today, he evangelizes to his fellow prisoners.
THE 'PRAISE GOD SQUAD'
Prison in the 1980s was violent. Prisoners died every day. Lyle couldn't find a safe haven. "If you were by yourself, you were prey," he explains.
In the middle of the prison's chaos, Lyle noticed a group of men who were different. The other prisoners, he says, "mocked them. 'Oh, there's the Praise God Squad!' But these men, these four men, were real."
After a particularly bad day that almost ended in a riot, the "Praise God Squad" offered Lyle a seat at their lunch table. Lyle—tired of the madness around him—took it.
"They waited for me," Lyle remembers. "Sitting at a table with their trays cold, and I walk up with a hot meal. The first thing they did was they bowed their heads and started to pray."
That lunch would be the start of a second chance at life for Lyle in prison.
A NEW LIFE
Lyle began attending church services and ultimately gave his life to Christ. He enrolled in a Prison Fellowship program and began evangelizing in prison.
Through Prison Fellowship, Lyle has had numerous opportunities to not just grow in his faith but to share his love for Jesus with others.
"The learning process and the ability to share through the ministry projects that we have to do in every module has been a true blessing," Lyle says.
Lyle shares what he has learned in Bible classes and other programs with the men on the yard. "They would become so encouraged by what we were learning," Lyle says, "that they would actually come and join a Bible study or come over to see a [church] service."
'THERE, BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD, GO I'
When Lyle thinks back to that time so many years ago when he was ushered into incarceration as a dead man walking, he can't help but think about how Jesus must have felt in the Garden of Gethsemane knowing He was to die on the cross.
"He knew what was coming," Lyle says, "but by answered prayer, I didn't have to face it."