I went to Kaufman County Jail tonight to see my friend Clifford. The police picked him up two weeks ago on parole violation plus he had a baggie of powder on him. He originally went into prison at 19 and released on parole last year when he was 51. They sent him to a half way house in Dallas and at some point he left without permission and came to his home town of Terrell.
I originally met Clifford when a friend of his waved me down as I drove past an empty lot on the Southside. He introduced me to Clifford and told me he was hungry. I talked to him and ended up taking him to Serenity to get him food from our pantry.
Clifford made it known he wanted to get into a residential men’s program. I called several places but they were waiting for a bed to come available. This went on for about three weeks before he was arrested. During that time I got to know Clifford and began to hear his story. I have visited him in jail three times since his arrest.
In Matthew 25:36 Jesus said, “when I was in prison you came to see me.” I take that seriously and whenever possible I visit the guys I know who get locked up.
The first time I went to see Clifford he asked why did I come there. I told him that Jesus talked about a Kingdom that’s different than anything the world has ever seen before. It’s a Kingdom of Justice, Mercy, Peace, and so much more but it comes only to those who believe that Jesus is Lord and God raised Him from the dead. By making that one confession we get the Spirit of Christ in us.
A prayer that Jesus told us to pray includes “let it be on earth as it is in heaven.” He also said the Kingdom is at hand or now. We don’t have to wait for it. So for those who have received His Spirit can now bring a little of Heaven to earth.
So tonight as we talked over the phone looking at each other through a thick sheet of glass he told me a story. And that’s why I wrote all this above. To qualify what he said.
He told me that he and another inmate read the Bible together each day and talk about that among other things. This friend of his would volunteer to wipe down the tables and the trays for other inmates. He was constantly looking for how he could help someone else.
However, Clifford saw his friend move another inmate’s belongings off a bunk and put his own stuff there because it was a better bunk than his. Not only did his friend take another’s bunk away but that other man was “special.” He couldn’t think straight and needed help understanding at times. Clifford’s friend had taken advantage of a weaker person.
Clifford struggled with how to confront his friend and ended up talking to him right before lunch that day. He told him, “I saw what you did. You took that man’s bunk without asking. You let him walk around confused without talking to him. That was cruel and you need to make it right.”
I told him he did the right thing. Then Clifford said to me, “that’s what I learned from you. That I need to bring a little bit of Heaven to earth. In Heaven there’s no such thing as injustice. So I did my best to bring justice for that other man.”
Wow! That’s it! Being behind bars doesn’t keep God out. He moves into the hearts of those locked up and frees them to live as Christ would if He was the prisoner. Clifford showed more of Heaven in a hellish place than some Christians show in their freedom on the streets.
Where are the voices that will encourage the downcast? Where are the hands that will bring food to the hungry? Where are the feet of those that will go to the sick and imprisoned? Where are the arms that will embrace the addicted? Where are the tears that will weep in prayer for those lost in this world?