NO LONGER BOUND
Today I attended a spiritually uplifting and refreshing event in the chapel. A ministry group from New Jersey which consisted of four people (three women and a man) spent ten hours
with my chaplain and about 50-55 inmates for a time of Christian fellowship, prayer, Bible reading, singing, and encouragement. Officially this evening was called a “retreat.”
Our time together went from 10:00 a.m. to 8: p.m. I had to go to the chapel about an
hour before the event started to help six other men set up extra chairs and our equipment.
We have our own electronic sound system that the prisoners purchased with our own money. And we use it for all our
worship services. And then I volunteered to stay for an hour after the event
was over to help clean the chapel and put our equipment away.
While this was a physically
tiring day, it was worth the extra effort. God used our guests to help empower
our lives for greater degrees of Christian service.
Right now, however, it is a little past 10 o’clock in the evening. I’ve already taken my shower and I am going to get ready for bed. Because tomorrow is Sunday I’ll
be getting up around 5:30 in order
to prepare for the worship service as well as for the additional chapel activities that are scheduled.
The name our guests titled the retreat was “No Longer Bound”. Today God reminded me that I am indeed “free” in Christ, and I am no longer bound by Satan,
nor by the chains of sin.
June 20, 2006
Larry is a man who is very special to me. One
cannot help but like him. He is schizophrenic and mentally challenged. Although he’s in his 50s there’s a childlike demeanor to him.
Larry would often be seen waddling along the prison’s corridors in a penguin-like
manner as he goes back and forth to an area of the facility near the Infirmary where the psychotropic medications are administered. And he always has a disheveled appearance even when he puts on clean clothes.
Larry has been in prison for almost twenty-five years.
During a time when he was strung-out on cocaine he committed a brutal and senseless crime. Somehow a 5’6” Larry with a medium build and stooping shoulders that cause his head to tilt
slightly forward like that of an old man, managed to wrestle a police officer’s service revolver away from him, and
then used it to take the officer’s life. The judge who presided over Larry’s
criminal case obviously took pity on Larry because he received a sentence of twenty years to life, as opposed to the maximum
sentence which could have been handed out: 25-years to life for murder in the 2nd degree.
The parole board, however, has taken no pity on Larry.
He’s already made two appearances before them, and each time he was given the standard two year “hit”. Although many of the prison’s staff think Larry should be paroled to a psychiatric
facility, there’s little chance of this happening.
On some days the ICP Unit inmates are allowed to go to the recreation yard for an hour
to ninety minutes, if the weather permits it. Since I work with these men as
a care-giver and Program Aid, I too must go along with them when they go outdoors.
And today was such a day. The sun was brightly
shining. So when the ICP Unit men and I entered the yard it felt as if we were
stepping into a hot oven. As for Larry, to everyone’s amazement, he came
outdoors in winter gear. He was wearing a woolen watch cap and his prison issued
coat. As expected, several of the guys teased him about it.
Sadly, Larry is out of sync with everything, even with the seasons. His illness seems to have put him in another world. Oftentimes,
as I’d walk by his cell, I’d see him talking to himself. He has a
tendency to misplace his belongings, too. And Larry needs frequent supervision
to make sure he leaves his cell during mealtimes, and that he takes daily showers.
I’ve known Larry for many years. Awhile back he was able to go to church with me. Over time, however, his condition worsened to where he cannot attend the worship services
or Bible studies. But he will allow me to read the Bible to him. On
occasion, when Larry wants me to pray for him he would tap his forehead gently as a signal for me to place a hand on the spot
and say a prayer.
Fortunately, Larry still has a few family members who’ve remained in touch with
him even though he’s to ill to compose a letter. He has his mother and
a sister. Yet I do believe that God has His hands upon Larry’s life. I am confident that whatever Larry may face in the future, Jesus will put caring people
in his path. They’ll be there to help him.
And when today’s recreation period came to an end and we began to line up by the
yard door in order to go back to the ICP cell block, Larry noticed that his coat was missing.
Then someone spotted it lying on a bench at the far end of the ball field. I
therefore asked the officer who was in charge of us if I could retrieve it, and he said yes.
So I ran across the yard, picked up Larry’s moldy old coat, and ran back to the door. He was glad to see it, and he was relieved that no one stole it.
I doubt if anyone would want to steal Larry’s smelly coat. Apparently he had simply taken it off at some point, and then forgot where he left it. This is typical of Larry. He’s very disorganized. After all, a man who dresses for winder in the middle of the summer, is a man who’s
lost his mind.