The Stroking Inmate

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.- Hebrews 6:4-6 (ESV)

I got up immediately after asking the prison’s bridge over the phone to summon an ambulance for a sick inmate who could  possibly be having a stroke that the Charge Nurse was currently seeing. I slightly pulled the sliding curtain to gain more access and just discard the privacy as there were no other inmates in the Infirmary’s perimeter  at that time. It was quicker for the three of us, nurses, to bring in the equipments needed to intervene to the best ability we could.

He was a big man, well-built in mid-40’s. His mustache drew my eyes as he talked, trying to wipe a tear that had dropped from his right eye. His speech was slightly slurring and the mustache, a little lopsided as we asked him to smile. His initial blood pressure was high. What scared him was losing the sensation on his chin area and around his bottom lip.

“Still numb…” he kept uttering.

“Try to relax and take a deep breath!” I requested as the IV was started and I gave him the oxygen. The Charge Nurse busy running the EKG and in-between, I dashed to the nearby copier machine so I could make copies of his medications and the EKG result.

After giving him some rounds of Nitro and a pill (Aspirin), he wiped another tear that fell. He commented how his chest pain seemed to have been going away.

“Finish your charting,” I told the Charge Nurse. “I’ll keep an eye  on him…” The Charge Nurse didn’t want to leave the room at first, finally accepted the offer. She knew time was crucial as she had a little window to finish writing about the inmate’s medical history that would be sent out with him.

With the sight of the medical supplies surrounding just him and I, I kept a constant sight as I pushed the IV pole that was distracting my vision of him at first.

“Feeling better? Don’t worry, Okay?”

He nodded…His brown eyes followed my shadow and eye-to-eye he tried to smile.

“I was worried…Lots of stuff I had gone through, Ma’am…”

“I used to be a deacon. Bought a house. Had a good life. Married. My wife…Volunteering every Sunday in our Sunday school. But she was hooked up with drugs. Our lives were turned upside down. I was caught in the mess. Now, I might lose my house…So, I’m trying to sell it. And divorce her.” His statements never paused. Anger’s smoke rose from his mouth and ears.

“Shhh…Relax…” I requested. “But I hear you…”

“So…you’re a born-again Christian?”

“Yes, Ma’am…For years now…Happy with Jesus…And now, I am here in the jail.”


“You’re a Christian…”


His eyes grew wide with excitement and he wasn’t sure at first if he heard me call him “brother”.

“Brother…” I repeated.


“Surrender your worries to Jesus.”

“You know Him…”

“Go back to Him first.” “Go back to Him…” “Again…”

“And all the things will be given to you…”

He laughed. I saw the Charge Nurse peered through the big glass window facing the exam room where the inmate and I were. She seemed to be wondering what was going on with our talk.

“You’re right, sister…” he acknowledged.

“I will do that. I'm not worried anymore...Ahhh….God is good!”

I turned on the bp monitor and the reading that was once very high registered: 130/90. Slightly high but much better than the initial reading we got first. His eyes remained shining brightly and his spirit seemed to have soared like an eagle.

“Are you okay? I could hear you from where I was,” the Charge Nurse’s head peeked through the door.

“Oh…I’m feeling a lot better, Ma’am. This ssss…nurse made me laugh.”

I knew he wanted to say “sister” but he remembered the status he was in. That in the prison, it was a rule for staff not to be friendly with inmates. He didn’t want me to get in trouble. But I wasn’t afraid. I knew he sensed that. Because in reality. We both belonged to Christ’s family.

He didn’t see me eating my dinner in the back of the Clinic as I saw the guerney that carried him, being pushed by the EMT’s. The heavy, metal door popped open and I knew where he would be going.

First… To the cross…

Then…To ER…

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.- Revelation 2:4 (NIV)

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?- Galatians 5:7 (ESV)

But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 
- Galatians 4:9 (ESV)

The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.- Proverbs 14:14 (ESV)

“Return, O faithless sons; I will heal your faithlessness.” “Behold, we come to you, for you are the Lord our God.- Jeremiah 3:22 (ESV)

To The Cross (Paul Baloche)

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