Sometimes it takes going to prison to get closer to the reasons behind life’s biggest “Why?”
I have always asked the “Why,” the one I wish I didn’t care so much about. The one you’re supposed to leave to mystery. The one that will drive you mad if you go at it too long. God, why do You allow—even perhaps ordain—evil things to happen?
I have heard stories of little girls abused at the hands of those who should be their protectors. I have met women who lost their children to the machetes of crazed neighbors. I know children who were chucked to the streets because of a system run by rulers who couldn’t find room for them.
Sometimes the “Why?” takes different forms, but often it comes back to this deeper question: God, are you good, really good?
Mostly He speaks to my soul that I must trust that He is. But sometimes He peels back the curtain and gives a merciful drop of respite in the land of faith. Less in an answer of explanation, but in an answer of His passion—pain and tears and scars.
Originally published on the Prison Fellowship blog.
He remembers it like it was yesterday.
The day Zeeke Griffin’s dad was arrested was the day of 7th-grade basketball try-outs—the day his dad had been planning and preparing him for all year.
“I figured he’d just be home in the afternoon,” Zeeke recalls. “If I make the team, I’ll be able to come home from school and tell him.”
He remembers rushing home to tell his father that he had, in fact, made the team, but Zeeke’s dad wasn’t home that day after school. Or for the next two years.
Photo taken from ByFaithonline.com
Mr. Casson, I hereby sentence you to life in prison with the possibility of parole. You understand sir, that the key word here is ‘possibility’ and that you may never leave prison; in fact, you may die there. Do you understand the sentence that I’m imposing on you today?”
These were the words that 21-year-old Mark Casson heard in the courtroom on a cold day in March 1989.
“I liked violent things,” Casson admits.
While serving as a linguist with U.S. Army Intelligence, Casson often engaged in underground fighting at a warehouse in San Jose, Calif. Committing murder was just the next step on his violent path.
One day, his best friend told him that his wife had committed adultery and he wanted revenge. Casson agreed to be the hit man.
Continue reading at ByFaithonline.com . . .
Seven. The number of times Sheaveal Beasley turned in her street clothes for a prison uniform. It wasn’t the path she would have chosen. But when she looks back now, she knows that her life’s journey has only just begun.
Thirteen. Sheaveal’s age when she began taking responsibility for her five younger siblings. Growing up in Punta Gorda, Florida, “we cherished each other because we didn’t have much,” she says. Her parents worked hard when Sheaveal was younger, but they eventually started doing marijuana and the family was largely left in Sheaveal’s hands. Resourceful and hopeful, Sheaveal remained in school, graduating with a softball scholarship to attend Miami Dade College.
Three. The number of months Sheaveal completed at college before dropping out. It all happened because of a guy… a guy who did drugs. “I wanted to fit in,” Sheaveal admits. “I fell in love with him.” She began smoking marijuana and doing cocaine. Then she lost her scholarship and had to quit school.
(Photo from Prison Fellowship)
(First published in Prison Fellowship’s Inside Out magazine)
One Sunday morning in November 2008, Edwin Wolff penned in his journal: “One year from now, I want to have a stable job, a vehicle, and be published on some national level.”
Two months earlier—on September 12—Edwin walked out of the Huntsville Unit prison in Huntsville, Texas. His sister, brother-in-law, and Hurricane Ike were waiting for him. Despite the impending storm, Edwin couldn’t help but savor the freshness of his freedom. “It was the first time in 20 years I had seen the outside without razor wires and gun towers,” he said.
(Read full story here at PrisonFellowship.org)
With Tony after the Catalyst Conference in October
A smile that spreads across his freckled face at the mention of his kids speaks more of Tony Dungy’s greatness than the trophy he gripped in his hand after becoming the first African American coach to lead a team to Super Bowl victory.
The quiet football giant slides into the back of the pickup, his lanky frame filling up the backseat where clothes and sports paraphernalia are strewn. “This reminds me of my truck,” he comments sonorously, fastening his seatbelt for the 25-minute drive to the Atlanta airport.
(Read full story here at Inside Out)
(Courtesy of Carol Kent)
At 12:35 a.m. on October 24, 1999, the phone rang.
That phone call thrust Carol Kent into a waking nightmare. Her son, 25-year-old Jason, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a strong Christian, had been charged with the murder of his wife’s ex-husband.
But even as Carol and her husband, Gene, reeled with the devastating news, a story of hope and redemption began emerging alongside the despair.
(Read full story here)
Photo by Lizzie Coombes, courtesy of Music in Prisons
Since the 1920s, when wardens whipped out band tunes to quell skirmishes in chow halls, music has played its way through barbed wire fences and into many a lonely prison cell. It found its way to the fingers of Jewish women in an orchestra at Auschwitz who were forced to serenade Nazi commandants, as well as other prisoners in work gangs. It crooned its way to Folsom State Prison through Johnny Cash’s gravelly blues. And today classical strains waft across jail yards in India, while Venezuelan convicts learn how to play Beethoven, and Maine prisoners pick away at guitars to Bob Dylan’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.”
(Read full story here at Prison Fellowship)