Romans 14:19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
May God’s grace, joy, peace and love be ever upon you.
I’d like to talk to you about being committed to peace. We should strive to be at peace with God, ourselves and each other. The situation of incarceration that I currently find myself in requires one to be patient and disciplined. In order for one to live peacefully in here, one must master the skill of cohabitation, in close quarters, with others. As many of you who have been following this blog know, I spent nearly eight months in solitary confinement in the state of Maine. Before that, I spent close to three years in county jails fighting for my freedom. I did share a cell block with others, but I had single cells. I was completely alone in solitary, physically (spiritually, Jesus remained faithfully by my side.) Thus, for three years I have had my own space and slept alone. I have recently been assigned a roommate here in Massachusetts. His name, which is truly ironic in prison, is Freedom. It has taken some getting used to. You see, I have committed myself to living peacefully with others to the best of my God-given ability. It is with that commitment in my heart that I have taken on the challenge of living with someone in what is essentially a locked bathroom with bunk beds.
After introducing myself, on the first day I let my new cellmate know that I am a Christian believer, but as such I have learned to respect and tolerate people of all faiths. I soon learned that Freedoms’ thoughts coincide with the Five-Percenters (5%ers) culture. Their way of thinking is that Asiatic blackman or the original man (in their view) are individual gods – an opinion which I find to be wrong, racist and self-centered. In many, many ways it goes against the teachings of Christ. However, my commitment to peace and understanding has allowed me to accept and respect this man in spite of our differences. We have had many spirited debates, but we have not argued or treated each other negatively. Instead we have chosen to allow each other to express ourselves in a peaceful manner. We do not talk over one another or yell. You see, as a believer in Christ, my goal is to present the Gospel of Christ to the unbeliever. I am to do so with the necessary knowledge to back up what I say both biblical and scientific. I am not to judge or shun anyone who does not know or understand the Lord’s divine truth. It is not my duty, nor is it within my human ability to save anyone. That is the Almighty’s job. I cannot truly tell if someone is truly saved, for only God knows what is in their heart. All I can do is pass on the gospel truth and pray that they accept it. The rest is between them and the Lord. In talking with Freedom, I have learned that we have much in common. For instance, we are both proud fathers, we both are striving to live our lives peacefully, we are both writers and we both have a gentle way with people. We are also both skilled in networking. We both have backgrounds in business, both legal and illegal. To be at peace with others, it is very important to find common ground. We must not focus solely on our differences. We must respect one another’s individuality, for GOD made each one of us in HIS image; but we are all also unique. We are all different; yet we are the same.
I ended up on the top bunk – another thing that I am not used to. The first night was a restless one as I had not yet adjusted to my new environment and living arrangement. During the last months of solitary, I gained some weight due to lack of exercise. So, climbing on and off the top bunk was a bit of a challenge. I got the bright idea that I could simply jump down rather than use the ladder. That turned out to be a very bad idea. I did not think that through properly. I quickly realized that when my body smacked the hard concrete. My wrist and ribs are still sore. Freedom and I had a good laugh when he got back from work. He later insisted that I take the bottom bunk. I reluctantly, yet gratefully, accepted. In spite of our differences, Freedom has proven to be a gentleman. He is well mannered and very considerate. He has shown me compassion and kindness. I prayed for a decent cellmate and the Lord, in His grace and mercy, has provided one.
I am in a very hostile environment. Yet, the Lord has provided me with a way to live peacefully. As I am writing this, the entire cell block is locked down due to a two-on-one fight between inmates. Unfortunately, such is commonplace here. There are a lot of gangs. It is sad to see so many angry young men. There are eighteen-year-olds with life sentences…most of whom do not possess the wisdom to understand the true impact of what they have done. A lot of these young men are fighting old street wars which started before they were even born. Some kill without even knowing why. It is simply expected of them because of the neighborhood they grew up in. I have shed tears for them while thinking of their plight – “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” I have been praying that God will show me a way to help them. The tragedy of their lives is heartbreaking. The prison industrial complex has no solution for this dire societal dilemma. This situation of incarceration, crime and punishment is a national crisis of epic proportions. I have not the words to express or convey the horror and reality of prison. One cannot help but realize that for every convict there are so many more victims. The sum total of the human and spiritual toll is incalculable by man.
Yet, in the midst of this darkness, there is light. There is compassion and even comradery (small as it may be). There is hope and glory in this concrete pit and JESUS is HIS name. Hallelujah! There is redemption and salvation. Praise GOD! There is prosperity and peace. Hallelujah! There is true freedom even behind these bars. Praise GOD! By the grace of GOD, I continue to have peace and spiritual organization in the midst of chaos and despair. The light Of the Lord continues to shine from within. And, as moths to flames, people continue to be drawn to it. Amen! In the midst of anger, hatred and pain, I continue to hold on to my faith and by the grace of GOD, I have been able to stay positively committed to peace. Imagine, if you will, what this world could be if each of us were committed to peace. Peace is a side effect of love. Love is GOD and GOD is love. We must seek peace, not only for ourselves, but for our neighbors. If we live a life of love, our life shall be peaceful. If you spread love, so too do you spread peace. If you are committed to LOVE, so too shall you be committed to peace. This is simple mathematics, brethren. It is only a lack of faith that makes it hard. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. Are you seeing the connection here? Everything good is of the Lord.
I ask you to pray for me. Pray that the Lord provides me with the strength to navigate these shark-infested waters that I am treading. Pray that HE provides me with the strength to stay committed to peace. Pray for these lost and troubled souls which lurk behind these concrete walls; trapped in this cold house of pain. Pray for the victims which are left devastated in the wake of our sins. Pray and hope for peace, my beautiful brothers and sisters. Pray for the salvation of our fellow men and women.
James 3:16-18 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
May GOD bless and keep you! May you love and respect each other! May we all be committed to peace! Amen!
Love in CHRIST,
(A man who strives to remain committed to peace!)