“T?” The voice came from the other side of the holding-tank door. I sat up on the wooden bench on which I lay. “Are you okay?” The door opened as he walked in and sat across from me on the bench next to the door. With his right hand he closed the door, but kept his eyes on me.
“I’ve known you for a few years, and I know you are a strong believer. I am certain you’ll be OK. The brothers and I, even the sergeant, have no doubt that things will turn out as God plans.” He heard a noise and quickly but gently tapped his chest as he pointed his finger at me, then he quietly stepped out, and that was the last time I saw him.
It was a few hours after I had been told I was going to the hole. The comatose state was beginning to consume me. I had been placed in a holding tank, waiting for the transportation team to haul me two miles away, where the Administrative Segregation Unit was located. I was weak in the stomach and knees, but I had no choice but to lie down and wait. The sergeant had just finished reading me the reason for placing me in Ad Seg:
“On August 18, 2017, you are being placed in Administrative Segregation. On August 18, 2017, it is alleged you made a verbal threat against a non-custody staff member on Facility C. This allegation requires a threat assessment to evaluate the totality of the circumstance. Due to this allegation, your presence on Facility C general population is considered a threat to the safety of this institution…”
Alleged! This allegation turned out to be without merit, but I didn’t know that then. I hadn’t even been told exactly what I allegedly said. I just could not understand the extreme reaction to this allegation. I’d seen worse things happen on the Facility and maybe – just maybe – see the inmate get a write up; no Ad Seg, or removal from the Facility. Other forces were in play, but I just didn’t understand the depth.
My heart was quickly growing hard, but unknown to me, God was about to plant a seed of His love within me and germinate it in His time. That’s when I heard the voice behind the holding-tank door. “T?” It was not a whisper, but lower in volume than normal. He obviously didn’t want anyone to know what he was about to do. Not only was it against policy to enter a holding tank alone, but closing the door behind him was dangerous. He was risking his safety as well as his job, both huge “no no’s” for a state employee. Only a living God could prompt such actions from someone who had a lot to lose; only a true God-fearing man would obey that prompting without fear.
“Are you strong?” I was aware of all his question encompassed, but my mind was not fully receiving it. Here I was, waiting to be taken to the worst place one can be while in prison, and this officer was talking to me like we were friends or family. His concern was real. His eyes and body language expressed a deep care and concern.
As an inmate and a believer, I am pretty good at identifying which staff member or officer is also a believer. It’s not hard; their actions give them away. But I’m not allowed to ask them anything that would confirm that. As I sat across from this officer, I already knew he was a believer, but I was still surprised at the risk he was taking. “I’ve known you now for a few years, and I know you are a strong believer,” he said. When I first met this officer, his partner was well-known as a follower of Christ – so much so that he didn’t care if anyone knew it. Once, he asked to read my book, and of course I said yes.
I knew this officer had also read my book, because he was the one who returned it to me. Through what I had written, and through observation, he knew me well.
“I’m certain you’ll be OK. The brothers and I, even the sergeant, have no doubt that things will turn out as God planned.” When he said “the brothers and I,” he wasn’t referring to inmates, but other believing officers. I sat there hearing him, but had no response. I think I nodded once, and he nodded back. That’s when the noise came and he touched his chest, then pointed at me. That could mean many things, but thinking back now, I’m sure he was saying, “I love you, Adrian.”
His actions and words were, combined, the seed God planted within me that day. That seed stayed there, growing roots, waiting to burst through the cement of my heart. This was the seed that sprang to life, after 3½ days of bankruptcy, and it was jam-packed with God’s love for me, causing me to weep uncontrollably.
God knew I would grow numb, and had already prepared the remedy. I don’t know if this officer knew his vital role in God’s plan, but God did.
As I think about this, I’m reminded of the countless words I’ve said to many, but didn’t see any immediate impact. At times I felt like I was wasting my breath. But God probably used these words to plant a seed that later would come to life in others’ hearts.
How many times have you been prompted to give a word to someone, and all he or she did was look back at you as if you were crazy? Or felt a lack of gratitude for a deed, done selflessly, for another? I now see that God is never asleep at the wheel, and words and actions given in His Name will bear fruit, in His perfect timing.
I’m in debt to this officer for not only obeying God, but risking all to do so. I hope one day I can thank him for being there for me when all seemed lost.
……….surrounded by love……….
Adrian G. Torres