Chapter 11 - You'll Never Leave This Prison Alive

The Canadian authorities delivered me to the U.S. border at Blain, Washington. The U.S. authorities escorted me to Bellingham, Washington and to what I think was a county jail. My new accommodations consisted of one large room with a row of cells across one side, for sleeping.

As a new Christian, there were many things I needed to learn. My understanding of the enemies tactics and weapons was about to increase. As the heavy steel door slammed noisily behind me, I was approached by the welcoming committee. It seemed like prisoners always wanted to know one thing, "What are you in here for?" Well...I started telling my story and did not get very far before being interrupted. "HEY! Come over here, you gotta hear this one!" The committee grew in size and I was asked to start over again. This time I got a little farther into my story before I heard, "Wait a minute!" Are you trying to tell us, you had a job and a good set of false identification? You were living with a woman planning to be married. The police hadn't caught you in ten years. And you surrendered to serve a 25 to 40 years prison sentence and all the other charges they now have! To me it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to do. Yes, I answered, I have become a Christian and now I want to please God with my life. Another prisoner looked me in the face with udder disbelief and said "You ain't got a lick of sense in your head! You will never get out of prison alive!" (Looking back on this incident, I am able to see now that God had not sent them to encourage me.)

By the next morning I needed to think, and spend some more time in prayer. I decided to stay in my cell, instead of joining the other prisoners in the large room for the day. A life in prison was nothing to look forward to and I must confess to some self pity and discouragement. As I began to focus more on my situation than on God's ability, desire and intent to work in my life, discouragement tightened its grip. An inability to meet a need is not one of God's traits. Since having committed myself to him, I was rapidly learning he would always meet my needs, even without my asking. As I paced the small cell becoming more discouraged by the minute, help was already on the way.

A guard came to the door and shouted my name. "I'm here, I answered." A tall woman in uniform unlocked my door and introduced herself. "I'm Sharon Wagner from the sheriff's department. I'm here to take your fingerprints. We want to be sure that you are who you say you are." (Why on earth would anybody want to impersonate me?) The deputy led me out of my cell and to a room where she could take my prints. When Sharon saw I was downcast, she began to make some small talk. She soon asked me if I had accepted Jesus as my savior.

Yes, you're reading this right! I'm in jail with a deputy sheriff taking my fingerprints when the cop wants to know if I'm a Christian! I was so thrilled to see another Christian I couldn't contain myself. Yes! I said, that's the reason I'm in this place. I started telling her my whole story. I told her about the way I used to live and how much trouble I had gotten into. I went on to explain how God had forgiven me, and how I had surrendered myself to please him. She may not have needed me to reveal my discouragement as it was not well hidden. When I finished speaking, she looked me in the face and said "You listen to me". I was once a prisoner on the other side of this building where they keep the women. Look what he has done in my life. Today I work for the sheriff's department. He will NEVER leave you or turn his back on you. It is written in God's word "...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion..." There is no need to be discouraged. Let's pray. We bowed our heads and Sharon prayed for me.

God is truly amazing. Who else would send a cop to encourage and pray for a convict? Needless to point out, I reentered my cell greatly encouraged. In a very short time I believe it became obvious to all that someone was laboring, behind the scenes, in my behalf. A few days later I was in my cell with 5 or 6 other prisoners answering questions about the bible. They had started reading them and wanted to know what I found in there. Sharon returned with some Christian literature and more encouragement. That had to be very startling to the other inmates as the deputies are not widely known for their love of the prisoners.

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