“Being in the Oklahoma County Jail is the best thing that ever happened to me.” This statement was made to me several years ago when I was in a DOC facility to visit with a chaplain. The chaplain was counseling so I was visiting with a young inmate who was grading Bible study papers.
The young inmate said he grew up in California and that he had been very rebellious at home, refusing to keep the rules that his parents had laid down for him. He kept coming home after curfew as well as being very disrespectful and difficult to get along with. His sister even moved in with a married sister just to get away from him.
One night when he came home very much past his curfew, his dad was waiting up for him. When he entered the house, his dad said,” you will find a duffle bag on your bed. In the morning put all your stuff in the bag. Your mother will take you to the edge of town to hitchhike away from here. From this moment I will consider you as dead, I don’t ever want to see you again.”
The next morning he loaded the duffle bag with his clothes. His mother drove him out to the edge of town. He said the saddest time was watching his mother sitting across the hi-way crying as she waited for him to get a ride.
He got several rides with truckers and finally arrived in Oklahoma City. He told the truck driver that he needed drugs, a place to stay and a job. The trucker gave him a phone number an indicated the person that would answer the phone could meet his needs.
His job was going into Kansas and Nebraska, stealing cars, bringing them to Oklahoma City, stripping them and selling the parts. He said, he eventually got caught and placed in the Oklahoma County Detention Center. In his cell, he felt under the mattress and found a little New Testament. He went over to the toilet and tore the pages out and flushed them down the toilet.
The next morning he noticed a page near the toilet and picked it up, read a little of it and placed it in his pocket. Later that day an older gentleman came by and spoke to him. He said he had someone he wanted him to meet. When he turned around, he had a big Bible open and started reading. The boy said, “hey, I have that”, reaching into his pocket for the page that missed the toilet (John, Chapter 3). The man said, “Do you understand it?” “No” said the boy. “Would you like to understand it?” asked the man. “Sure” he said and within thirty minutes the man had explained John 3:16-20 and the boy was saved.
The boy was sentenced to several years in a state facility. The chaplain gave him a Bible and Bible studies which he completed and was no grading Bible study papers of other inmates.
The boy indicted to me that he had written his mother many letters but never received a reply.
He said he would be getting out of prison soon and had written his mother a letter asking if he could come home for a visit, also reminding her of his salvation and the Bible studies he had completed.
Three days later, the phone rang in the chaplain’s office and the chaplain handed the phone to the boy and said. “its for you.” He said, “hello” and after a few moments of silence he heard what sounded like a person sniffling, then realized it was a man crying and finally saying, “son, its your dad. I was saved three weeks ago. All those letters you wrote to your mother, I destroyed and she never read one of them. And yes son, you can come home to stay as long as you want to. Let me now when you can be in Tulsa, and I will send you an airline ticket.: Then the young man said to me, : mister, I am going home in style.”
If it were not for the quality of God-called OJPM volunteers that serve in Jails and prisons, this story could not be told.
Interim Executive Chaplain