Saturday morning the Grace Point Church sent a mission team to Piedras Negras, Mexico to love on handicapped kids at the Bethesda Orphanage. Saturday afternoon I became a Maverick County Jail convict. I was handcuffed, finger printed, stripped of valuables down to my shoe laces and assigned an inmate number. How’s that for a blog opening!
For those that follow my blog, you probably know I have been going through a messy business bankruptcy for over two years. It is coming to a close, but some how in August 2007 a check did not clear the bank. I’ll get clarity here once I get a copy of the check from the District Attorney’s Hot Check division. I don’t know much else other that a warrant was issued for my arrest. Not knowing this I went into Mexico and was picked up by the Border Patrol upon reentry.
I’ve never been arrested, so I pretty much goofed everything. I didn’t spread my legs or put my hands up right. It was really weird when they were fishing around in my pockets. I made a really stupid prisoner. But eventually, they put me handcuffed in the back of a police car and drove me to the Maverick County Jail. The concerning part for me was I didn’t know if my problem was a couple hour problem or a bunch of years problem. They would tell me nothing except there is a warrant for your arrest and you are going to jail.
During the drive, I yelled through the plastic sheets separating the police office and myself.
I yelled, “Excuse me sir. Have you ever seen God do anything for you?”
He said, “Huh?”
I yelled again, “Excuse me sir. Have you ever seen God do anything for you? Although it may not look like it now, I have seen God do some awesome stuff!”
He said, “Yes. God has allowed me to wake up with my son every morning.”
I said, “Wonderful! It is great to know God is at work in your life.”
We arrived at the jail and he opened the back car door for me to exit and get passed off to the jailer. He told the jailer, he could remove the cuffs. I wouldn’t need them. I smiled.
I went through the booking process, just like the movies except I had a smile on my face. I was anxious to see my first God Spot. They finger printed me a couple times, took everything but my clothes, took my picture and walked me to the holding cell. This is where it gets fun.
I was put in a “holding cell”. This is where everyone coming and going from jail goes through. In the cell were three Mexicans and myself sitting on the floor, as there were no chairs except one stainless steel bench. The Mexicans (this is factual, not derogatory and as they refer to themselves proudly) could not speak English. I am praying, “God. I’m looking for a God Spot. This whole adventure will an incredibly painful experience if I go to jail and not see God’s hand at work. A God Spot is the only thing that would make sense out of the event!
Then I say to God, “God these guys don’t speak English and one of the them looks like he is looking for someone to eat. How in the world am I going to talk to them about Jesus?”
Within minutes, a guard comes and takes the mean guy away who has been pacing like a tiger in a cage. Then in a few more minutes, a guard takes another Mexican away. Now it is me and the last guy that can’t speak English. I say, “Ola” and he begins babbling a bunch of stuff while I have no idea what he is saying. Shortly, a guard brings a young guy in that speaks English and Spanish. He is sobbing and crying. It is not a good thing to go to prison, but even worse as a young male.
I say, “Sir. May I pray with you?” He says yes and we pray about how God is the only answer. I explain to him that sometimes God reveals Himself in a unique fashion and I get to write about it. I say maybe he will be part of a chapter in my book called “God Spots”. I explain that when I find myself in an unexplainable situation, I look for God. That is the only reasonable explanation, so today I find myself uniquely in a prison cell with you. I propose, maybe God is here, also.
He says he has done too much bad for God to be here. I say today is a point in time that you and I have uniquely crossed paths. There is also a specific unique point in the future when we both will begin spending eternity. It doesn’t matter so much what you have done in the past, because God is more concerned with what you will do in the future. Each choice you make between now and the time you die are opportunites to become shaped into the man God wants to spend eternity with.
The choice is: will you become the man God chooses to live with?
Now, He is crying and asking for God’s help to be the man God wants. His prayer was heart felt and sincere. I said his prayer was awesome and now he needed to tell the Mexican next to him want he had done and allow him to make the same choice.
He said, “No. He couldn’t that.”
I said, “OK. I am going to tell you my story about God again. This time translate it as we go along and let this guy know about the love of God.” I guess he did a good enough job, because the second guy began crying and sobbing, also. To quote Arredondo, “BOOM! A God Spot” and Ricardo fell for the love of God. I was pumped! He must have said,”BOOM! A hundred times in the next 24 hours.”
All night long, people came and went as we slept on the floor, but Arredondo and Ricardo stayed. At one point it got really cold while laying on the concrete floor with a thin mat. We were given a blanket but no pillow. Sometime in the middle of the night, a really mean violent Mexican mafia type guy was put in the cell. He was yelling to the guards at the top of his voice, give me a blanket! They were mocking him in return. He stripped off his shirt to strut his gang tatoos to display and establish his rank in the cell. He is standing over me, staring and has his foot cocked back. Everyone is quiet as he is yelling and looking at me. I say, “Senor. Mi blanket.” as I hand it upward.
I am praying God. This is really going to hurt. It would be good if you would cool this guy down and send him over to the stainless steel bench to sleep. The young Mexican who has found Christ, is safely tucked in a corner and he begins talking loudly and aggressively to the guy who is twice his size. I don’t know what is being said, but I hear repeatedly two words. Respecto and Priest. I think he is saying, “It’s not good to kick a priest.”
Mystically, the guy yells some more and walks over to the bench and curls up on it. He lies down shivering. I yell out, “Senor! Mi blanket.” and throw it at him. He catches it. Looks at it and me. Shrugs his shoulders. Wraps himself up in it and goes to sleep.
Now here is the good part. In the morning, he is gone. The lttle guy that had been talking about respecting the priest says to me, “I thought when you threw that blanket at DeLaCruz you were going to die. Then, I thought. That is what Jesus would do. Right?”
I teared up. Arredondo had really gotten it.