Starving Inmates

Most inmates are starving. Hungry to be filled but no nutrition to be found. Going from one place to another looking for something to quench their appetites. Unfortunately most inmates die hungry.

You would think I was talking about food, but I’m not. To be perfectly honest, California prisons feed us very well. The food might smell and taste like rotten dog food; however, three meals a day is much more than some families eat today.

So what am I talking about? Spiritual starvation. Inmates are inmates not because their crimes got them here, but because their longing to fill that spiritual hunger drove them to drugs, alcohol abuse, crime and pride. And that drive to fill their void got stronger by the day. It became so normal to wake up each morning with spiritual hunger pangs that it became part of their natural lives. It numbed them to the consequences of their quests to fill their hunger via drugs, alcohol abuse, crime and pride. They continue to seek ways to fill that empty void. They find ways to use drugs. They become master brewers of fruit to make alcohol. And they even turn to homosexual activities to fill the hunger pangs within.

It is a sad reality. A reality that is an opportunity for us who are full with God’s love and grace. In Proverbs 27:7 it says “He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.”

Now, I know this verse is used to teach that a man  who is rich and has it all is not moved by the simple things in life, and a person who has nothing finds pleasure in the simple things of life. But I believe this verse can also be taught a bit differently. Basically, when one is full, then he will not be hungry. Nothing tempts you because you are full, content, not in need of more. However, when one is hungry, even things that don’t taste good (like prison food) will be delicious.

I can testify that prison can drive you to participate in things that  you never intended to do, yet gave in to because at the time even the bitter tasted sweet. This is why Christ is very important in prisons. Because if we can fill the hungry souls of these inmates with Christ’s love, mercy and grace they will find that they will be too full to even take a second look at something else.

What I mean is when we fill our lives with God, we will not be tempted to sin. Filling ourselves up with the love, joy, and peace of our Lord will give us the foundation to resist temptations, impure motives, adultery, immorality, addictions and even sin-driven depression. However, if one does not have God and this goodness in him,  he will always be seeking ways to be filled with ungodly things, making excuses and convincing himself that even the bitter tastes sweet.

Please pray for those inmates and ministries that are working with the hungry and showing them how to  find the Eternal Bread and Living Water that Christ has to offer. It is not easy work. Unfortunately, most that have been living hungry for so long have now gotten used to it – wanting to seek no further than their own vomit.

Please pray that the Holy Spirit will pour His power upon all the prisons and the hungry that live within their walls.

–Adrian Torres … not hungry (spiritually)

This blog was authored by Adrian who is incarcerated.  Adrian sends the blogs via US Mail to Friends of Adrian volunteers who post the blog.
The website is owned and maintained by Friends of Adrian volunteers. Due to his incarceration, Adrian Torres has no access to the website and is unable to respond to any comments posted.
Comments are answered by Friends of Adrian volunteers.**
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Better Than 90210

“This prison should be torn down,” expressed brother Javier in a semi-angry voice. “The kitchens are rat infested. The cells stink like rust. The water is a shade of brown and tastes like urine. Most of the staff is rude. This place is a class A dump!”

I couldn’t blame him. Technically he was right. This prison is an older prison and older prisons tend to have a long list of inhumane sub-par problems. Compared to other prisons, this place can be considered a dump. No argument there. However, the day Javier expressed his gripe to me, Father had taught me a lesson in the morning that now could be shared with Javier.

As I do most mornings, I read my Bible and meditate on what I’ve read. On this particular morning I felt a strong desire to read the whole letter to the Ephesians. So I did. Once done, I sat in the quiet still of the new morning, digesting all six chapters of what I had just read.

My mind raced back and forth from nugget of truth to nugget of truth found in this awesome letter to the Ephesians. However, my heart was not fully at peace. There had to be something important God wanted me to see that I had not yet grasped. So I turned my handy book light back on and started to reread Ephesians.

Three verses in, the answer hit me right between the eyes. I noticed that even though Paul was in prison – in a dump of a prison – I could not tell or feel any ungrateful or negative attitude coming from him. He had all the right to complain about the unfair treatment he had received, and about the true dump he was in. Yet he chose to set his hope, sights, and trust in heavenly things. His circumstances would not snuff out his joy in the Lord.

That morning I decided to write down a list about the beautiful things this prison held. The same list I pulled out from my Bible and showed Javier. “This list that I hold in my hands,” I explained to Javier, “is a list showing me why this prison is better than Beverly Hills 90210.”

He thought I was joking, until I started reading it:

I live in a gated community.

Free weekly laundry services.

Three square meals a day, rain or shine.

Private cooks and chefs.

Twenty-four hour guards, seven days a week = A+ security.

Private fitness area.

Private medical care 24/7.

Rent-free room and board, utilities included.

Million-dollar views of the Chino Hill mountains.

First-class union-hired maintenance workers (i.e. highly-paid handymen).

After reading my list I reminded Javier that if we dwell in the heavenlies, even in a dump of a prison like this we can escape our circumstances and focus on the blessings that surround us. Paul set a great example for us through his letter to the Ephesians. Paul chose to see the blessings and not the ugly. “We, too,” I advised Javier, “must choose to see the blessings and not the ugly.”

Javier understood and decided to make a “Better than 90210” list for himself, too. He said he would pull it out in times of “ugly.”

Are you going through some “ugly” today? If you are, maybe making a list of all your blessings will help you. If you need inspiration, read the letter to the Ephesians. You will be surprised that Paul was even in prison. Yeah, it’s that good.

From my private suite –

Adrian G. Torres

 

This blog was authored by Adrian who is incarcerated.  Adrian sends the blogs via US Mail to Friends of Adrian volunteers who post the blog.
The website is owned and maintained by Friends of Adrian volunteers. Due to his incarceration, Adrian Torres has no access to the website and is unable to respond to any comments posted.
Comments are answered by Friends of Adrian volunteers.**

Rewriting Men’s Stories

“THE MOST CONSISTENTLY ENDEARING human trait is warmth. Everybody responds to the person who radiates friendliness from a serene core. Such people are lovely to be around because they don’t reject or belittle and, best of all, they bring out the best, most generous qualities in the people they encounter.”

  • Barbara Walters

It started as a simple visit to his step-daddy’s work site. His intentions were simple: Go visit, chit-chat, and interact with the labor workers. It was to be a simple and relaxing day. His plan was to let them know he was a supporter of them. However, what this day held for him was far from planned. —

As he arrived he heard a disturbing noise coming from around the corner. Curious to what was happening, he went to investigate. To his surprise, he found a supervisor beating one of the labor workers. A rush of anger boiled within him. He could not just stand there and let this happen. He had to do something! No time to call the authorities, he decided to take the matter into his own hands.

Looking around to make sure no one was looking, he ran and attacked the supervisor. As they wrestled on the ground, the victim managed to get up and slip away.

Not knowing how hard he was holding him, the wrestling match turned fatal. Releasing his grip on the supervisor’s body, he noticed that the supervisor’s body had gone limp. In the heat of the moment he had taken the life of another. Scared and not knowing what to do, his thoughts raced a hundred miles an hour. He was well-educated in the legal system. He knew that the law would frown on him and never understand. The whole situation would be twisted and used against him, instead of for him. There would be way too much explaining to do and not enough people willing to listen.

Looking down at the lifeless body that rested on the dirt floor, he decided to once again take matters into his own hands. This was a secluded part of the work site, and he was pretty sure there were no witnesses, so he dragged the body to a sandy area and buried it. Satisfied with the job, he returned home to clean up and rest.

The next day, testing his theory that no one saw him, he went out around town. However, once again he found himself in the midst of a heated fight. He decided to approach this one a bit differently. He stepped up and asked the aggressor why he was hurting his fellow man. The answer that was given took our hero by surprise, “Who made you ruler and judge over me? Are you thinking of killing me too, as you killed the supervisor yesterday?”

With his heart in his throat and his stomach feeling very ill, he felt each and every one of those words like a sharp dagger being jammed into his side. It was then that he realized that his secret was no more. Fearing the authorities, he fled to the desert and became a fugitive.

Before I tell you how this story ends, let me bring you into my cell…as I sat here today, praying for this prison and yard, I let my mind inventory the pages and pages that could be filled with stories from the men that live here with me, all from different walks of life, cultures, races, and education. All with a story of their own.

I can’t say I know or have heard all the stories here. In fact, I am sure I have only heard less then five percent. Personally, I know that every story that is here is heavy and weighs on our shoulders. Many of our stories have been misunderstood, twisted, and even perverted. Many have pushed their stories deep within their hearts, locked them in closets, and thrown away the key. Retelling the story would be like reliving it. Why would they want to do such a thing? So that one can get misunderstood again? To be looked down on, like the trash of society? Why even go there?!

Can I share a secret with you? Deep down, every man that walks this yard is a crying heart waiting to be heard. Yup, you read that correctly. You see, the load is heavy. It’s hard to carry it some days. And like all humanity it feels good to vent sometimes; to have a loving and caring ear to talk to; someone that will not judge, but uplift.

Every story has an ending. Some are not very pretty. Some go on to get darker and darker, never finding the Light. However, those are stories that were written by “self”. On the other hand, the stories that end with a joyful twist always end in the Light. They are not written in “self”, but co-written with (1) a helping hand and (2) the Master Author.

I know hundreds of men with dark or misunderstood stories that would welcome a helping hand, a listening ear, and a gentle leading to the Master Author. The Author who can update and rewrite their story.

Please, I urge you to join us in prison ministry. I am not asking you to take on a whole prison or yard. One person is all it takes; one seed; one heart; one love; one Gospel; one Truth… simply one of you.

So how does our friend’s story end? Well, after 40 years as a fugitive, living a new life, under a limited identity, he was used mightily by God to change history and rescue a whole nation. You can read about it in the Bible. The book of Exodus contains his wonderful story. Moses will be one story that will forever change people’s hearts.

…thankful to have you as a listening ear. Straight from Adrian’s Cell.,,

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, Who has given me strength, that He considered me faithful, appointing me to His service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

1 Timothy 1:12-14 (NIV)

 

 

 

This blog was authored by Adrian who is incarcerated.  Adrian sends the blogs via US Mail to Friends of Adrian volunteers who post the blog.
The website is owned and maintained by Friends of Adrian volunteers. Due to his incarceration, Adrian Torres has no access to the website and is unable to respond to any comments posted.
Comments are answered by Friends of Adrian volunteers.**

Hopeless and Desolate?

I hate to admit it, but the view from my six-man cell (dorm) is almost beautiful. Just outside the multiple 10-foot fences, razor wire, and the deadly high-voltage electrical fence is a small lake tucked into a shallow valley of lush green trees. The trees stand tall and proud, rising from a floor of rich green vegetation. Multi-colored wildflowers speckle the ground with eye-popping color.

This beautiful vista does not always look like this, however. Extreme heat and extended periods of rainless days dry the trees, flowers, vegetation, and even the small lake. The view then is hopeless and desolate, and I avoid looking at such disappointment. But all is not lost, because resting deep within the dry soil are seeds which are ready to die, then spring into life at the first drop of water. New life will rise from the once hopeless, desolate land, transforming it once again into a site of beauty.

This land reminds me of the sights that fill my vision when I’m on the prison yard. Men, who in their youths were filled with life, now roam around lifeless, hopeless and very desolate. The heat of their criminal lives slowly dried them up. This is true for the majority of men on this yard, and sadly most have embraced their despair and have no hope for a vibrant future.

A few, though, have found hope, life and the Living Water which is Jesus Christ. These once dry, hopeless men invited the Seed of Life into their lives. This Seed – Yeshua – died and rose again to give life – vibrant and beautiful – to these men. The waters of God’s Spirit have flooded into their dead souls, bringing forth fruit.

Giving up on those in prisons is a mistake, for God, the Creator of life and Giver of salvation, is taking these hopeless, dead inmates and giving them new life. And for anyone reading this who feels hopeless and desolate, you are not. The Creator of life can give you love, grace, and new life. Invite Him in today, and see life spring forth into your once-dead heart.

….wishing my bald head would see new growth….

Adrian G. Torres

 

Fluffy Faith

“I’m not into the ‘Fluffy Faith Game’,” the 6-foot, 220-pound, all-muscle, tattoo-covered man proclaimed. I had been sitting at the tables, right outside the medical clinic, waiting for my buddy Steve to get off work so we could go to lunch. As I sat there I noticed an inmate working out and making really loud grunting noises with every pullup.

I recognized the man from a Sunday chapel service he briefly attended. I’m not sure why I felt this gave me permission to go speak to him about his faith. I must have been feeling brave because I don’t approach scary men, especially scary men who make violent noises during a workout.

I made my way right next to him, at the second pullup bar. I grabbed onto the bar above me and pretended to get a feel for the grip. I looked over to the beast next to me and gave him my manliest, “S’up?”

He looked over at me with testosterone-filled eyes, with a look that yelled, “Why is this chubby bald man bugging me?” but lucky for me he just replied with a “S’up?”

Again, I don’t know why I took his answer as an invitation to continue, but I did. “Didn’t I see you in the chapel a few weeks back?”

With an intense gaze, he answered, “Yup,” and grabbed the bar above him, did a quick ten pullups, grunting with each one. “I’m not into the ‘Fluffy Faith Game’,” he said. “I left because my buddy who took me kept saying I must just have faith to seek God. I’m not down with all that girly faith stuff.”

I was caught off-guard by his answer. I had never heard seeking God described this way, but I’m quick on the draw and God never fails to bring something to my mind in these situations that I heard or read in the past. “You know, in the book of Matthew it says, ‘Seek and you will find.’ The interesting thing is that the meaning of the word ‘seek’, in the original language, means a heavy, violent action.”

He looked at me and yes, grunted.

“I think,” I continued, “that the word ‘seek’ means to break ground, like with a plow; to move forward as the plow violently rips through the ground.”

“I like that,” the beast said. I’m not sure, but I think I even saw a grin.

“So we should not be content to just seek God passively,” I said, as I hurriedly thought how to answer his “Fluffy Faith” issue. “Just gently seeking will only lead me to nice, fluffy, tickle-my-ears faith. If I desire a deep, rich faith I must violently seek God by breaking up ground. I must plow through fluffy sermons; through books with little substance; through holier-than-thou Christianese speaking. And yes, I must open my Bible and dig – dig – dig into God’s Word. Only then will I find what I’ve been seeking.”

He shook his head and grunted, just once.

“The greatest thing is that once Yeshua – Jesus Christ – is in me, all that broken ground is a perfect place for His Word to take root and grow.”

He grunted a few more times and did another quick set of ten pullups. “I like it,” he said as he was done. “I’ll see you on Sunday.”

I pounded my chest a few times in acknowledgment (yeah, don’t ask, it was the manliest thing I could think of doing since I’m incapable of doing a pullup) and began to walk back toward the clinic. Steve was now out, one hand above his brow to shield his eyes from the sun, looking around for me. I waved at him and he waved back. Just at that moment I realized I had forgotten to tell the scary beast-man something. I turned and shouted, “I’m Adrian! My name is Adrian!”

Grunt.

The great news is that Grunt now regularly attends Sunday services, and in a few weeks he will be baptized by our chaplain.

How are you seeking God? Are you just skimming along the surface of God’s Word? Are you taking a firm grip of His grace? Are you bathing in His love or are you content with a sprinkle? We must plow forward, carefully and diligently turning over the surface of the nutrient-poor surface of the ground of our lives, laid there by shallow preachers and teachers.

Let’s not be content with the fluff we are fed; let’s plow forward, digging deeper into the pure, nutrient-rich soil of God’s Word.

….no grunting from me, just seeking…..

Adrian G. Torres

 

Worth the Price

“Hey fool! Am I seeing things or did the price of coffee go up $2?” the tattoo-covered man asked his friend as they stood in line at the prison canteen window. Prison canteens, because they have no competition, can set prices at levels that are, pardon the pun, downright criminal.

The high prices set by the canteen managers allow them to fill their coffers to the top, but hurt the inmates, because on average an inmate earns 9¢ an hour at his prison-assigned job. Having to pay inflated prices comes with a consequence. Choosing what to buy is scrutinized to the very last penny. High prices must be paid for essentials like soap, toothpaste, or deodorant; but if any money is left over we must consider the cost. The worth of any product is weighed against our thin budgets. Like all smart consumers we are only willing to pay what we think an item is worth, and if we pay more than that, we have just raised its value.

The man covered in tattoos was not hallucinating; the price of coffee was now $2 higher and no explanation was given. My peer now had a choice: to purchase or not.

His coffee dilemma made me think about my own worth. According to society-at-large I am worth less than a pile of dung. The prison system sees me as a barcode in a human warehouse. To most officers I’m worth a paycheck. But to God, I’m worth infinitely more.

For whatever reason, God decided that I was worth the blood and life of His own Son; worth the flesh-ripping lashes; worth the agony on the cross to His very last breath.

Although I don’t merit this over-inflated value, Father chose to place me in the category of “worthy” because of His love. It was His choice, His action, the blood of His Son, by which my worth is measured, paid in full upon Calvary’s cross.

My tattooed peer decided it was worth buying the coffee, and not just him but many others who purchased at the inflated price. Now the coffee has a new, accepted, higher price.

What’s your worth? If you are saved – born again and bought by Yeshua’s blood – your worth cannot be measured. You are priceless. If Christ is not in you, please know that His death was for you, too. Go to Him on your knees and beg for His mercy, and see your price go sky-high.

…….thirsty for an Iced Mocha…….

Adrian G. Torres

Tea Time

Clumsy and in a rush, my neighbor dipped a tea bag into a lukewarm cup of water. He had been mesmerized by a trashy TV talk show, and had forgotten to plug in his hot pot. He now had only two minutes before the building doors opened and he would have to make his way out of his cell. It goes without saying that lukewarm water and a quick dip of a tea bag does not make good tea. Without hot water, and time for the tea bag to “steep” – without time and patience – the resulting beverage will be a counterfeit.

Time and time again I see this impatience repeated in our church behind the walls. No – not with tea – with brothers’ Christian walks and maturity. A great majority of believers behind the walls are in a huge rush to see or experience positive changes in their current lives. When they don’t see, or experience, those changes, they become bitter and give up on God. Some even blame God!

God, however, is not to blame. These believers get too distracted with the evil and dark, trashy environment prison offers. Their focus and attention is given to everything except God’s Word and prayer. They take a quick “dip” into a lukewarm devotional and convince themselves it is enough. They attend Sunday’s chapel service and mistakenly believe that they have been infused with enough “God.” But when true, lasting change doesn’t happen, the bitter taste of failure cannot satisfy their dry and thirsty souls.

God’s love, and thorough transformation of His own, is not like any sugar-filled instant tea. It’s like a rich, soothing tea for which we must patiently wait. As we read and study His Word, and spend time in His presence, and in fellowship with others Who worship Him, His pure goodness – with all that entails – will soak and penetrate our sin-focused lives. It will heal our scars; mend our broken hearts. As His goodness is infused into us, our actions and lives begin to change.

So, how is your tea time?

…..thinking of going decaf…….

Adrian G. Torres

Learning to Love

“Love is arguably the most powerful word in man’s vocabulary. The feelings that warrant those four letters have given birth to both the most wonderful and most horrific acts that time has ever seen. The very substance of that term is what the empty heart longs to be filled with. In the absence of true love, my friends, one will never know ‘unfeigned happiness’ and without love, an individual is saved from devastating pain. Songs have sung of its sweetness; the pages of books have recorded its essence; movies have re-enacted its magic; poems have whispered its deepest mystery. We can all say the word—for it is not hard to pronounce; you and I may experience it vicariously through the before-mentioned means; but how many of you reading this update can say with confidence, ‘I know what love is?'” (Taken and adapted from Bryan’s sermon on 1 John 4:10, titled, “Learning to Love.”)

“I’m going to present myself to the firing squad tonight,” said I [Bryan], in a moderate and somewhat sarcastic tone. With a puzzled, but serious look on his face, Adrian stepped close to the door, now able to see my otherwise-silhouetted face. Judging by the expression written on his countenance I was sure that he knew exactly what I was talking about, but nonetheless I repeated my earlier statement and clarified it. “I’m going to present myself to the firing squad tonight, and whatever happens happens. I know that Steve and Bill (names have been changed to respect privacy) have something against me and I’m going to come out tonight, approach them, and let them fire away.” Adrian was taking all of this in and no doubt turning it over in his mind, when I put a wrench in those brilliant gears of his by asking, “Are you with me?”

Through this very website the Lord has brought a wonderful and caring man of God into my life. Even from the first letter I received I could feel the warmth of his love radiate from each line of his print. As he wrote more and I read more, his compassion became inescapable. He told me of a period in his life when his pastor would take him along on his visitations, training him for the role that he would one day play. As he expressed the turmoil of soul, and the pain in his heart each time a wounded saint would tell of his/her darkest sins, I found myself wanting to feel this very pain. I want a heart that would truly ache over another’s despair; yes, I hunger for a soul so sensitive that it would mourn upon hearing of the distance that the child had run from its Father. I just want to learn to love. So I asked for his prayers in this area.

I made it to the execution site (a dayroom table) first and said to Steve, after shaking his hand, “Brother Steve, I want you to know that if I have done anything to offend you then I apologize, and ask for your forgiveness. But, I also need you to tell me what it is that I have done so that I will not repeat my actions in the future.” Steve went on to explain that he is only worried about looking at himself, and working on those problems. “Whew,” I thought to myself, “that was easy.” So, hoping that my next moment of vulnerability would go the same, I presented to Bill the same statement I had only seconds before said to Steve. However, and much to my disappointment. Bill wasn’t in the mood to look within himself and he began to fire away. In the hail of verbal gunfire Adrian arrived and suggested that we move away from the gathering crowd lest they get hit by a stray bullet.

[Adrian]

Allow me to back-up. . .Before I arrived to the execution site, I stood at my cell door, waiting for it to open. Through the cold steel door I monitored the activity at ground zero. My heart was racing much faster than my overweight body could handle. I started to notice that Bryan was going to face the firing squad all by his brave self.

My door started to open—yet it did not open fast enough. As the gears struggled to open the door, I sucked in my gut and managed to squeeze out, hoping to shave a few seconds off my arrival time. As I quickly walked there, I noticed that members of the same political party were starting to gather. Not a good sign. One too many times I had witnessed similar gatherings–ending in a horrible mess. I quickly found an excuse to ask the participating parties for a change of venue. With some hesitation and a few unpleasant looks, I managed to move the royal rumble to another site—the table next to the first.

Bryan and I sat across from each other, as did Steve and Bill from themselves. As I looked into my friend and ministry partner’s eyes, I noticed that he sensed this was not going to start, nor finish, well.

After a few seconds (though it felt more like hours) of cease-fire. Bill shot a warning-shot that grazed Bryan’s ears. I sat quietly observing and counting the ammo fired. Bill had his information all wrong and was angry for no true reason. Bryan gently corrected Bill with facts that could be proven by simply looking at a single sheet of paper that freely hangs in the chapel’s window.

Steve and I were looking at each other eye-to-eye waiting to see who would make the first move. And because of my Simon Peter complex, I jumped in full throttle; Steve is not a man to stay quiet long, so I started asking him questions. One thing lead to another and Steve and I were firing away like madmen.

Bryan and Bill were still sorting fact from fiction, while Steve and I competed to see who had the largest guns. Sixty minutes later, Bryan, holding his wounds close, said he needed to go in and fulfill a prior commitment with his celly. So before he left, Bryan bravely stated that this whole matter was due to wrong facts in their information, and assumptions—the two fuels that flamed the pride within Bill and Steve.

Oh, but the fuel-hungry, fire-monster was not done. Soon after Bryan was secured in his cell, the monster jumped on me like white on rice. For another sixty minutes I received a “Shock-and-Awe” size attack. I had no choice but to dodge and cover.

Holding onto my shattered remains, I quickly visited Bryan’s cell door. I asked him if he would be staying in during tomorrow’s Dayroom time. At first he said no, that he needed to run-off his stress out on the yard. However, as I came a foot closer to his door, Bryan was able to see my wounded spirit and quickly—like the true friend he is—changed his plans and guaranteed me that he would stay in with me.

As I spiritually limped back to my own celly I did not expect what waited for me. Remember that I had asked to move tables due to too many ears listening in? Well, my celly took that very personally, not knowing that I was actually saving him from an ugly—UGLY!—situation.

As the gears of my cell door turned and squealed, I looked at my celly’s face hoping to find some brotherly comfort. What I found was an angry and confused man. Taking the little that he knew about the situation, he used that to fuel his own personal monster against Bryan and me. Catching me caring for my spiritual wounds, I tried my best to smother his fire by explaining the facts, without trying to start gossip. But that only made the situation worse!

At the peak of this small war, my celly put down his firepower and simply shut me out of his sight. Exhausted and stressed I climbed into my bunk and tried to sleep that day away. Eleven and a half hours later, with no sleep, I finally had the opportunity to speak to Bryan.

At Dayroom Bryan and I spoke about the issues and bounced ideas back and forth on how we should properly handle them. Bryan was sick and tired of being sick and tired. His resolve was to excommunicate Bill and Steve and let them drown in their own pride-filled pond. I was suggesting just the opposite: I wanted us to suck it up and forgive them, and simply move on with God’s work. We both had good reasons for our ideas, but we didn’t have the time to come to an agreement.

Days later Bryan and I found ourselves meeting with our Chaplain. We explained—in no detail—our problem and asked for pastoral counsel. The Chaplain stated that we had to forgive and forget. The next day Bryan had the opportunity to do just that. I, on the other hand, could not find the time to do likewise. Being a bit busy and living on the opposite side of the building, I had found it very hard to bump in to Steve and Bill. My part went undone.

Days passed and the Christmas Banquet had arrived. After a great, smooth-running, and glorious event, Bryan and I were feeling the weight slowly come off our shoulders (since we bore the success of this event on our shoulders.) As I became consumed in organizing the return of the men to their cells, I failed to notice that behind the backdrop of a smooth, calm shoreline, Bryan was busy trying to stay afloat in a rip current powered by Bill. With no time to spare, I needed Bryan and Bill to help the cleaning crew out, so I asked them to join me.

Forty-five minutes later, as Bryan, Bill, and I walked back to our housing block, the rip current started its deadly pull again. At first I was only being affected by the movement of the flow. However, Bryan was kicking and waving (spiritually,) trying to escape the trap that was set before him. Seconds before we would depart our separate ways, the rip current grabbed the bottom of my heel and sucked me right in. Bill had thrown me a hook and bait, and I bit on it so hard that it punctured me deeply, ripping every strand of humility that I had.

For the next week, I purposely gave the cold—and rude—shoulder to Bill. I would not speak, touch, or be in the same room with him. I now was the one telling Bryan that we should leave them to drown in their own pride-filled pond. And in turn, Bryan was the one telling me that forgiveness and forgetting was the only way to “love”.

LOVE! What did love have to do with all this? “Love” had been coming out of Bryan’s mouth for a couple of days. He would tell me how he had been working on a sermon based on I John 4:10 and how God was opening his eyes to the true meaning of “love”.

Blah, blah, blah; that is all I heard. Love this, love that…blah, blah. I did not want to hear about his newfound wisdom. No! I wanted war. I wanted revenge. I wanted to win! Little did I know that God was using Bryan to show him and me how a Father spanks His children.

It was Friday and I found myself listening to Bryan’s sermon. The Holy Spirit took hold of those words and spiritually bent me over His knees and spanked my spiritual behind. Every word of “love” that came from Bryan’s mouth was like another solid swat on my behind. As my pride slowly decreased, the guilt quickly increased. As a loving brother and friend, Bryan had tried to warn me that his sermon would be one God wanted me to hear. He tried to prepare me for it…now I see why.

As Bryan closed his sermon and I approached the pulpit to conclude the service, I had to confess to the congregation and ask for forgiveness and prayer. As one of the leaders in the Chapel, I had been acting and behaving like an immature child. Bryan’s sermon—through the guidance of the Holy Spirit—opened my eyes to help me see that I was not being the man and leader God wanted me to be.

Later, I found Bill and surprised him with a. hug and begged for his forgiveness. “Love” sure does help in difficult situations.

“…Love is giving all of yourself to another who doesn’t deserve it, and cannot return it as they currently are. Notice that our verse opens by declaring. This is love; but before it defines its previous statement our love (so called) towards God is disqualified. What this means, gentlemen, is that whatever it is that you are currently doing toward God is not fit to be defined as love. Mind you, that many of us here are putting forth a worthy effort, but when an example must be given; when perfection is paraded; and a model is to be followed; it is God’s love toward us that is presented,” (Taken from Bryan’s sermon on 1 John 4:10, titled, “Learning to Love.”)

Time makes the heart grow fonder. Whether it be days, weeks, or years, time slowly erodes and smoothes over life’s rough edges. It has been a month now since the first pains of our growing church made themselves known; and though the injury has come and gone, I am often reminded of the wound when the climate here goes cold. But I no longer harbor the disgust that I previously felt, and the details that used to eat me up inside seem less and less unpleasant every day. What once irritated is now irrelevant. But can this numbing amnesia be wholly attributed to time?

No, of course not. Brother Adrian has done a wonderful job in vaguely summing up the details of our growth spirt, and I must admit that he portrayed me in a much kinder light than I deserve. But time itself, or the leaving of things alone, did not remedy our pain. For if I would have had my way, then never would we have come to a happy ending. No, not unless Steve and Bill agreed that Adrian and I were right, and they themselves were 100% wrong. And believe me, dear reader, that Israel and Palestine have a greater chance at reaching a permanent peace agreement then the before-mentioned coming to pass. So, if not time, nor an admittance of guilt played a key role in our healing, then to what may we attribute this current resolve?

Love. Far too often I am reminded that you and I know not what to pray for. Sure, the asking of God to give us patience, tolerance, and the ability to love sound like noble requests indeed; i.e. until we grasp God’s methodology in granting these petitions. He teaches us patience by making us wait; tolerance by allowing others to constantly push our buttons; and love through the pain and betrayal of others. “I just want to learn to love” was my request, but never was I prepared for the means which He would use.

I don’t know, perchance I was expecting to get pierced by one of Cupid’s arrows; maybe God just has a pitcher of “love” lying around up there and would be obliged to pour a measure into this vacant heart of mine, or, better yet, I would just wake up one day all lovey-dovey. Well, as I have found out. God’s ideas and mine are worlds apart; and I have learned to love by those that are closest, hurting me the most. I have learned that it’s not always important for those that have done the offending to know and admit their wrongs. What counts is that we—that’s you and I—love even when we don’t want to love anymore. Oh, my dear friends, oftentimes it is the act of loving that hurts the most.

Nobody wins when love loses its way. Steve and Bill, as well as Adrian and I have all been hurt by these events, despite where the blame should be cast. However, I do see the four of us being made all the stronger in the long run. Unfortunately, though the schematics will change, this is a lesson that will be learned over and over again. But he who will love much will get hurt the most.

Until next time, Adrian and I will be learning to love; undoubtedly in the most painful of ways. And, of course, we’ll share these experiences with you…. straight from our cells.

(Hebrews 13:3 NLT)

 

This blog was authored by Adrian Torres who is incarcerated.  Adrian sends the blogs via US Mail to Friends of Adrian volunteers who post the blog.
The website is owned and maintained by Friends of Adrian volunteers. Due to his incarceration, Adrian Torres has no access to the website and is unable to respond to any comments posted.
Comments are answered by Friends of Adrian volunteers.**