A familiar voice echoed in the hallway. Coming from the very back of that unit near the Infirmary.
“How you doin’, Ma’am?”
“Oh, Hi Sir! I’m fine. Thanks. Busy as usual though I just got here…And you?”
He cracked a soft laughter. Managing the volume of his voice. Careful the sound would not go beyond from the space where we both were standing. I was getting a particular stock from our Supply Room. Him…Sitting in that corner where there was a table meant for Inmate Workers like him. On top of the table, there was a tier of papers or forms used to open charts for sick inmates. That was his duty and those who were there before him. To make charts from cleaned up, old ones. And then, wait for orders. If either Custody or Medical staff needs something to be cleaned up and other errands reserved for his role.
He must be sentenced for many months. Perhaps, years…As I saw him every weekend I tried to schedule myself. He was becoming familiar with every face that walked into that Clinic. Including mine. I could see and feel his reservation. Of whom to greet and not greet. But I usually tried not to wait. I always acknowledged him. And told him how grateful I was that he was keeping the areas in the Infirmary clean.
I didn’t have to know his crime. I just knew with the way he cleaned the areas around the Clinic patiently. Hours after hours. Only to clean again at the end of the day as other staff might not be conscious of keeping our own areas neat. I always saw him with a friendly grin. A smile most of the time even when being told to do a particular duty. I could sense he wanted to change. I could sense the hunger inside him. Wanting to do good. Holding a mop or a broom with bare, callous hands that once held guns in the street. The respectful words he tried to utter every time someone walked into his domain. Instead of cursing.
He was looking down. Staring at the open chart he initiated as he tried to gather the needed forms.
“Excuse me, Sir!”
“Can you do me a favor?”
“Can you help me with this inmate in the wheelchair that needed a dressing change? It’s not possible for him to get into the exam table.”
“Oh yeah! I know him. I always help him out and I know he doesn’t mind me helping him. He told me he appreciates my help.”
“I do, too.”
“Ready? One. Two. Three.” The paralyzed inmate used his strong, muscular arms to keep him stable from that transfer as the other inmate worker helped him with his lower legs.
The inmate worker turned his back. He understood his part was done and he didn’t have any business during the dressing change. Not like outside the streets. When he wanted to hear anything going on so he could preserve his life from those wanting him killed. Better yet...To make the hit even before his surrounding enemies get him...
“Thank you, Sir.” I added as he made that quick u-turn. The paralyzed inmate thanking him, too, at the same time.
“You’re a big help!”
He replied with just a smile. But I saw the reflection from his weary face. He was proud of being able to help out others. He was proud of the change that started in his heart. He saw the goodness of being able to love instead of hate. He saw the reality of being useful instead of living without a purpose.
My dressing change had long been done. As I saw the familiar figure then with a few charts already made on his table. I silently prayed for him. I knew he needed God’s strength in order for him to move on. And pursue the change he wanted. I knew he would overcome. But not by his own power.
But of God’s…
I invite you to listen to this song "Overcome" by Jeremy Camp. I pray this will encourage you in your life's journey and that of my own. We all face trials. But despite the tribulations in this world, it is true that we can have peace because of what Jesus had already done... Jesus "overcame" the world!!! And as we follow our Master, how true that we should be encouraged instead of feeling despair and hopeless. But we also know it is only by drawing near our Savior that makes our walks strong. So...let us "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NIV)
"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
- John 16:33 (NLT)
The Attacker (5/15/09)
The sun was just peeking from the Eastern skies.
Out in the prison’s yard, some huge Sheriff’s buses were illuminated by the soft glow coming from the lights all over from the tall lamp posts. Their engines were turned on, warming up, before the buses would take the inmates to the different courts where they would have their trials.
Orange-uniformed men were lined up in pairs, joined together with handcuffs and chained, forming a long line. They already had their breakfast and had their morning medications prior to going to courts. Some were fidgeting, as they waited to board those buses.
All of a sudden, all hell broke loose! Two men were engaged in a fight, using weapons they made secretly for a while. Deputies called for help on the radio, both for custody back-up and medical staff, as well.
When the air was cleared and the other inmates were secured, one man was down on the floor. He sustained multiple gashes but two of them were deep. One cut was vertically etched from his left ear going down to the jaw line. The other dangerous cut was horizontal on his left neck, close to the jugular vein. Pool of blood dripped all over the floor. Holding his bleeding neck, he was pointing at the other inmate few feet away, being guarded by the other deputies.
The other man being accused was not hurt. There were no lacerations nor any other signs of trauma. He was obviously very agitated as he was being questioned by those deputies, while the medical staff started treating the other man on the floor. They cleaned the wounds and controlled the bleeding. That man was sent to the nearby hospital.
When the investigation was finalized, it turned out to be that the “downed man who was accusing the other inmate” was the attacker and the other one who didn’t have injury was the one attacked. The deputies found out that it was the second attempt to attack the unhurt man. Both attacks on him failed. He was well-prepared after the first attempt on him, that when the second attempt was done, he was able to defend himself and ended up injuring his attacker severely.
[Source: NLT Bible ]:
We also have an “accuser of the brethren.” Satan and his army of demons are the enemies of God and of everything good.
“Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.” –Hebrews 2:14
Because of what Jesus had done [dying on the cross], we, who live in constant fear of death shouldn’t be afraid anymore. Jesus had freed us from that fear so we can live for Him. When we belong to God, we know that death is only the portal that leads into “eternal life”. [“Thank You Lord!].
Paul warned us, too that we also battle against the evil forces of Satan, who is a vicious fighter. But to be able to withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of His armor. We face an army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ, they become our enemies. They will try any device to turn us away from the Lord.
Fear not! For God has provided His supernatural power to defeat Satan and his army, through His Holy Spirit within us. So, arm yourselves with God’s armor.
Let us be strong in the Lord's mighty power. Let's put on His whole armor to resist the enemy's attacks: put on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that we are well-prepared. We will need faith in every battle as our shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed by Satan and his army. Let us put on salvation as our helmet, not forgetting the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let's pray at all times, on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must stay alert and be persistent in our prayers for all Christians everywhere. [Ephesians 6:10-18].