How Two Hopeful Cellmates Turned One Prison Upside Down
Note: The following letter was submitted by an incarcerated man in Oregon.
Not long ago, I was incarcerated dangerously close to the wildfires raging in Oregon. The entire prison was evacuated to another facility as a precaution. At the time, I had been reading a Bible from the prison library. Because this Bible belonged to the prison, I left it behind during the evacuation.
Two days after moving to the new prison, my cellmate Mike* mentioned that I was looking down. He asked why I was so sad and if there was anything he could do to help.
I told him I was used to reading God's Word every morning and evening. See, the Bible is like my battery charger, and God is my supply of love and positivity. Without access to the Bible, I was feeling drained and a little depressed.
Mike pointed at the large wall of bookshelves that house our unit’s library. "Well, then, go find yourself a Bible!" he said.
But I had already searched high and low through every book there. I could not find one Bible.
"Prisons always have Bibles," Mike insisted. The next day, he set out to find one himself.
THE HUNT FOR TRUTH
Mike was raised Christian but had drifted away from faith. Before, he used to laugh at me for being such a "Bible freak."
Searching the prison, Mike and I failed to find a Bible. Mike even started asking more guys on the unit if they knew where to find one.
In no time, six or seven guys joined Mike on the hunt. They searched every corner of the prison library for a Bible but came up short.
Before long, a correctional officer noticed us and asked what was going on. When we told him we couldn’t find a Bible anywhere, he started laughing. "What?" he said in disbelief. "I have been a C.O. for more than 10 years, and one thing I know: There is never a shortage of Bibles."
Mike laughed right back and said, "Well, the joke's on us, because we've been looking for close to an hour and haven’t come up with any Bibles. Not one."
By this time, it felt like being on a treasure hunt. Our group fanned out and started combing through the day room. Then we went cell to cell asking for Bibles. Mike found some copies of the Psalms, and I was overjoyed to have even a part of the Bible. My appreciation spread like wildfire to all the other treasure hunters with me.
A SHINING WITNESS
The best part of the story came the next day. That same C.O. who laughed at us now stood in the day room handing out Bibles!
When I hurried over to get one, I was surprised at how many others were also in line for their own Bible. When I asked about it, the responses were mostly the same: "I am not normally a Bible sort of guy … But you were so interested in finding one, so I figured there must be something good in here."
I am very open about my faith, though I am not the kind of person to push my faith on others. I have been praying that the Lord Jesus would shine through me to those around me. Thank you, Lord, for reaching these men before I ever had to preach a single word.
Mike and I now have daily Bible studies. God's Word continues to fuel me as I look forward to my release day, which will likely come in eight and a half years. I can reunite with my 5-year-old son and amazing wife when I am released.
With proper prayer and an open heart, there is nothing God cannot accomplish in your life. I'm holding on to 1 Timothy 4:8 (NIV): "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."
—Dominic*, currently incarcerated in Oregon
*Names changed for privacy
SHARING GOD'S WORD BEHIND BARS
When Bibles are available behind bars, they are too often in difficult-to-read translations or printed in a font too small for the aging prison population to read. According to a Prison Fellowship® survey of prison chaplains, most incarcerated men and women do not have easy access to their own Bible.
To help meet the need for God's Word behind bars, Prison Fellowship partnered with Tyndale House Publishers to offer the Inside Journal Life Recovery Bible at no cost. With special devotional content based on the 12-step model, these large-print Bibles are offered in the easy-to-read translations of New Living Translation (NLT) or NTV (Spanish equivalent of NLT). These are based on the bestselling recovery Bible that has helped millions of readers overcome their addictions and strongholds.
In this partnership, Tyndale's Life Recovery Bible is cobranded with Inside Journal, Prison Fellowship's quarterly newspaper published for men and women behind bars.
Prison Fellowship reached a ministry milestone by providing more than 100,000 copies of the Inside Journal Life Recovery Bible in just nine months to incarcerated individuals in prisons all over the country.
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