January 1, 2004
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ
Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
A new year has begun. I wish I could say that I was awake and
on my knees until the wee hours of the morning, spending the time on New Year's Eve in fervent prayer. Actually I went to
I was very tired and exhausted last night. So I slept through
the usual jailhouse merriment which consisted of mothing more than a handful of guys screaming "Happy New Year" at the top
of their lungs.
Generally, in prison, there are seldom many open displays of
celebration that people on the outside normally experience. Holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's are very
sudued, but they're not somber.
Presently, because of the alleged reports about the increased
possibility of a terrorist attack happening on United States soil, New York's prison system is back to a "Code Orange" alert.
Like the last time a Code Orange Alert was declared, theis
facility closed its doors to all the civilian volunteer ministers who come here to teach their Bible classes or to conduct
Now, of course, all our daily chapel events have been discontinued.
All the ministers have been ordered to stay out.
Don't ask me the logic of this. But it's happened before, and
the cancellations of most of our services and studies will continue until this Code Orange is reduced again to "Yellow".
January 2, 2004
Yesterday I wrote about the "Code Orange" alert level that
has now been in effect for a couple of weeks. As a result, most of our Bible studies and services have been cancelled.
I am counting my blessings, however. I am thankful because
not everything has been stopped.
Our chapel is still open every Sunday morning for the main
worship service, as this event is overseen and run by my chaplain, who is a New York State employee, and not simply a volunteer
In addition, we have our Sunday afternoon beginner's Bible
class, and we have a great time in it. Plus the prayer meetings and choir practices are still continuing. These things are
also supervised by the chaplain.
Nevertheless, perhaps upwards of 85 percent of our Christian
activities have been cancelled. The effects of the tragic September 11, 2001 terrorist atacks are still rippling across the
country, even in here.
But as this year begins, I hope to renew my strength as well
as make a fresh start.
I never make new year's resolutions. However I do hope to get
closer to the Lord with more prayer time and deeper studies into the Scriptures.
I pray, too, that the Lord presents more opportunities in 2004
for me to tell others what He has done in my life. I always want to be an encouragement for those who feel as if they have
Likewise, I desire to be a faithful servant for Jesus my Messiah
as I live out my life in this prison.
January 10, 2004
Yesterday I heard on the news that the Code Orange terrorist
alert was rescinded. The nation is back down to the less ominous sounding "Code Yellow".
I don't suppose that things will change very much for most
of America's citizens. I don't think many people pay much attention to these alert levels anyhow.
But for me I can rejoice that, little by little, the chapel
worship services and Bible studies will once again resume to their previous levels.
On Monday morning my chaplain will probably begin to contact
the many volunteer ministers who come into Sullivan Correctional Facility to inform them that it is now okay to return to
Things like this remind me how vulnerable I and the other prisoners
are to outside events and situations.
Thankfully there were no terrorist attacks on the United States.
But had something happened, even if it occurred on the west coast, and, as a result, the alert code was elevated to "Red"
my entire prison would probably have gone into a "lockdown" mode. All the inmates would be in continuous cell confinement,
and almost all activities inside the prison wold have come to a stop. Perhaps even for many weeks or months.
However, I have learned to be thankful for what I do have.
It's like the story I've heard so many times about the man
who always complained that he had no shoes, until one day he met a man who had no feet.
When the grumpy man who was lacking shoes suddenly came upon
a man who had no feet lying helplessly by the side of the road begging for coins, he was humbled.
Immediately he realized that his situation was not as bad as
that of others. He was more blessed than he previously thought, because surely it is infinitely better being shoeless than
And like the man without the shoes, we tend to think that we're
doing worse than everyone else until we meet a person who is in a worse condition.
So while I do not like being in prison, and I don't like having
to be so vulnerable, the truth is that things could be a thousand times worse for me.
Whatever God blesses me with, let me be thankful.
January 19, 2004
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me,
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.
I am so glad that the "Code Orange" terrorist alert has been
rescinded. All of our services and Bible studies are open again and are back to functioning normally.
I know that Satan would love to reave me from the hands of
God, but he cannot. For my feet are planted on the Solid Rock, which is Jesus my Messiah.
No devil, demon, or hateful man can ever pluck me from my Lord's
But now, however, I must boast in what the Lord did yesterday.
We had an awesome and anointed worship service on Sunday morning.
We had a volunteer minister, "Brother Ron", come to us from his home in New Jersey. The presence of God was all over the building.
The Holy Spirit was once again doing His regular work, tugging at the hearts of men, wooing them to Jesus.
The altar was jammed! About 40 men went to the front of the
chapel seeking a touch from the Lord.
Like people everywhere, prison inmates go through tremendous
trials and difficult circumstances.
I am thankful that God's Throne of Grace is always open. At
the altar some men rededicated their lives to Christ . A few surrendered to Jesus for the first time.
Most, however, were seeking God's help for their personal or
Then, later on Sunday afternoon, when we had our beginner's
Bible class, some of these same men spoke openly about their particular issues and situations.
Edwin asked for prayer for his father, who is in his 70's,
and who has a fast growing tumor in his brain. His dad is scheduled for surgery very soon.
Robert needed prayer for his brother who is in a coma after
a bad epileptic seizure complicated by diabetes.
"Brother King" asked for prayer that the Holy Spirit will continue
to give him strength and comfort. Several weeks ago he had to bury his twenty-four year old who lost her life to cancer.
And Nathan poured out his heart to us saying how much he wanted
to get closer to God.
Nathan has been in prison for about thirty years. He had been
"hit" by the parole board two times already. Fortunately, though, his wife has stuck by him through all this. This is an exception,
Nate's wife is a strong Christian. She's always believing that
the Lord would save her husband from his sins.
It is so good being able to pray to a faithful and loving God
who answers prayers. I am thankful, to, for the privilege of being part of a Christian fellowship that is persistently involved
in one another's lives.
We have our faults and shortcomings, of course. But overall,
the members of our congregation do try to help each other.
We confront one another in love. We give encouragement as well
as emotional and spiritual support. And physical help is provided also when men have needs, be it giving another prisoner
a pair of winter gloves, or handing out a few postage stamps to the men who cannot afford them.
January 30, 2004
The past several weeks have been times of physical affliction
for me. On January 7th I tore some ligaments in the ring finger of my left hand.
This happened while I was playing basketball with the inmates
from the Intermediate Care Program, which I'm required to do. Immediately after I was injured the correction officer who was
on duty at the gymnasium sent me to the prison's infirmary where x-rays were taken to see if my finger was dislocated or even
Thankfully only some ligaments were torn. But the doctor had
to place my finger in a splint. The splint must remain on for four to six weeks.
Amazingly my typing has not been affected, although I'm a little
slower at hitting the keys.
Then, on Monday, January 26th, I sat down at a table in the
recreation area of the cell block where I live to help another man write a letter to his mother. I did not know, however,
that he had the flu. So having already oblligated myself, I got stuck having to sit directly across from him as he continuously
coughed in my face.
It's kind of funny because when I asked Alvin why he didn't
warn me that he was sick, he kept insisting with a straight face that he wasn't sick at all. I knew better, of course.
But this was the first time I've ever met someone who was in
denial that he had the flu, even though his nose was running like a faucet and as he emitted a wet, hacking cough every other
Yet here I was, stuck in a seat as I helplessly got blasted
by millions of flu virus and cold germs.
I knew I was in trouble. And even though as soon as I finished
his letter I ran upstairs to my cell to wash my hands in hot soapy water, I had the gut feeling that it was to late. I was
Sure enough, when I awoke at about 5:30 the following morning,
my throat was sore and I could hardly talk. I had a bad case of laryngitis.
I had to work all day on Tuesday even though I sounded like
a frog when I tried to talk. And by Tuesday evening I had chills and I felt weak. I knew what was coming.
By Wednesday morning I felt like the walking dead. I also began
to develop the same wet, hacking cough that Alvin had.
To top this off, on Monday morning my left keecap began to
swell. I suppose this was from and old injury. The kneecap area began to fill with fluid and every step I had to take was
with excruciating pain. I had to limp everywhere, and I was in throbbing pain even when I was sitting down.
Only yesterday the swelling began to decrease and now I could
walk much better. I'll be fine. The Lord will heal me. But this week I got almost nothing accomplished. All I did was sleep
every chance I got.
January 31, 2004
Many times the occasional physical injuries I get or the bouts
of the flu I come down with end up becoming blessings.
For they force me to make changes in my life. They also cause
me to get the rest I need by putting an abrupt stop to my overachiever and workaholic ways.
These injuries and illnesses are the means by which I get some
time off to recuperate.
This week, for example, my legs have been wracked with constant
pain, and the flu has been running rampant in my body.
So when I was not at my work assignment during the daytime.
I was either sitting up on my bunk reading my Bible, or I was sleeping.
Like this past Wednesday when the flu struck, I was so tired
that I went to sleep at approximately 8 o'clock in the evening, and I didn't wake up until 6 o'clock the following morning.
Normally I would never get this much sleep. But I needed the
rest, and my body let me know it.
Thus while limitations do not exist for God, they definitely
exist for me. He is all powerful; I am a weak mass of feeble flesh.
I am also a hard lerner. Yet in His patience the Lord has been
teaching me that it's okay to rest.
I used to feel guilty if I wasn't always on the go. By my own
efforts I would try to "stay busy" for God.
But little by little, however, I am learning about my limitiations,
and this is good.