“You have to read the Bible, Sis!” I heard the conviction in his tone. “I don’t care what those magazines say, we’ve been lied to. Just read the Bible; you’ll see what I mean.”
I was at visit, sitting inside the cage-booth that is dedicated for that purpose in Ad Seg (the Hole.) Five of us had visitors, each in our own booth. The other four were already talking to their visitors via phone; my visitor was late, so all I could do was sit there staring through the window at an empty chair.
I probably shouldn’t have eavesdropped, but it was nearly impossible not to hear the conversations the other four were having. I could only hear what was being said on my side of the glass. “How is your health?” I heard from the furthest person to my right. “So, the doctor says it’s curable? That’s good.” I then knew the person with whom he was visiting was sick, and the doctor had given him or her some hope. I listened some more, “How’s Dad? Is he going to be okay, too?” “Well, okay Mom, let me talk to my son for a few minutes.” So, the visitor was his Mom, and she had brought his son with her.
I took my ear off the first conversation and pointed it at the next. “Babe, you know I love you! No, I don’t care for her…no…you are my only one!” This was easier to guess. This man was having a visit from his wife, and she had been grilling him about infidelity. I quickly removed my focus from that conversation!
The third inmate must have been talking very quietly. I could hear him “who-ing” and “yes-ing” but I could not hear much else, so I shifted my attention to the person on my left. He was certainly talking to someone he cared for deeply, and since he called her “Sis” repeatedly, I knew she was his sister.
His conversation was intriguing, so I listened as closely as I could. “I’ve been in the Hole for 18 months,” he said. (Wow, that’s a long time to spend in here, because CIM’s Hole is unlike others that are a bit more modern.) He continued, “I have had plenty of time to read the Bible, and I have learned – and I don’t know how, because I never finished school – that what we have been taught all our lives are lies.”
He paused, and must have been listening to his sister, then resumed. “You have to read the Bible, Sis.” He was trying with all his heart to convince her. The conviction in his tone was unwavering. “I don’t care what those magazines say, we’ve been lied to. Just read the Bible and you will see what I mean. Please!”
The conversation was getting good, as it was becoming evident that this man and his sister had been raised in some kind of cult. The time he had spent in the Hole had given him time to read the Word of God, that “pierces to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and reveals the thoughts and intents of the heart.” By doing this, he was able to see that the cult he grew up under had been lying to him, all his life.
Not only had the Word reached inside him and changed him from the inside out, making him a “new creature,” but he longed for the same for his sister. What he had discovered he could not keep to himself, even if it meant losing his sister’s visits. People who come to visit don’t come to hear a lecture; however, this man needed to share with his sister the “words of life,” even if it cost him her visits in the future.
Right when the conversation was getting better, my visitor parked herself at my window. My focus turned to her, and we had a wonderful time. At the end, when I blew kisses to my favorite niece, I took great care to see if I could see my neighbor’s sister.
I did see her. I could clearly see that as she left, her eyes were puffy and red from crying; from anger or joy, I had no way to tell.
Once back in my cell I lay on my bunk and prayed for this man, and especially his sister, who I didn’t know. As I prayed, I remembered his fire to witness to his loved one, and I wondered if I had that same desire. I think that today’s churches have lost much of their desire to share the truth of God with others, no matter the cost. I think we have become too afraid to be bold for Christ. We don’t want to risk the hard stares of society that tell us that we must accept all beliefs, not challenging them with God’s Word. This has made us timid; ineffective.
I believe we can learn a lot from this man’s bold convictions. The risk of losing someone is a big deal, especially in the Hole, but leaving them to go to hell is far worse.
I’m examining my fire to witness; I hope you do too.*
……..waiting for a visit from you……….
Adrian G. Torres
*Update: The next week, on visiting day, his sister was back, this time with a sparkle in her eye!