When my little girls told our little neighbor friend, who is three years old, that their Daddy was going to prison, he said, "Oooooh....did he get in a fight?"
"Oh. Did he just yell at someone?"
Finally, I jumped in and told him, "Their Daddy is not going to prison, he is just going to a prison. He's going to tell the men there about Jesus." I will say that I got a little chuckle out of his other suggestions...knowing Jeff, those things are not even imaginable!! He's the most gentle man I know.
A few weeks ago, Jeff told me that he had the opportunity to go to Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary, for a weekend conference. The ministry he is there with, called 'Turn", goes in to turn the hearts of the fathers who are inmates there back to their children, based on Malachi 4:6:.....and He will TURN the hearts of the fathers to the children. And the hearts of children to the fathers. One of the directors of the ministry has his office at the Life Action National Ministry Center, where Jeff works, and as a 'thank you' to the ministry, offered five scholarships for men of Life Action to participate in a conference there this weekend. I don't know much about it, but based on the Participant Guide that Jeff gave me to read (and I sort of wish he hadn't....it seemed like a good idea until I read it), here are some things I do know: (Taken directly from the guide)
No prison in the United States houses more life-tern inmates than Louisiana State Penitentiary, commonly known as Angola. So large that it has its own zip code, Angola is the nation's largest maximum security prison, housing roughly 5100 inmates. Of this number, 86% are violent offenders, 74% are serving life sentences, and roughly 85% will die within the confines of Angola's barbed confines.
Up through the 1960's, Angola was and infamous blood-drenched hell-hole, in which only the strongest and most violent criminals could hope to survive. This began changing in 1972, when newly elected Gov. Edwin Edwards appointed reform-minded correctional officials. Reform gained further momentum with the 1995 appointment of Angola's current warden, Burl Cain, now the prison's longest serving warden.
It actually has a neat history and does a lot to reform its prisoners. They keep their prisoners very busy farming 18,000 acres of farmland and cattle to supply food for theirs other correctional institutions - a total of 11,000 people, every day, year round. For more information, go to www.turnassembly.org.
And to explain a little further why I sort of wished I had not read the Participant;s Guide, here are some of the guidelines in the handbook for the men coming in for the conference:
-While your cell will be provided with a very uncomfortable pillow and a very uncomfortable pillowcase (They know how to sell it, don't they?), you might want to bring your own pillow/pillowcase. Turn attendees should not dress similarly to the inmates. While you can wear blue jeans, you should avoid white, grey, or denim shirts.
-You should always carry your ID in case you are challenged by a guard.
-And my personal favorite....Do not take your cell phone or a camera inside the main prison. To do so would violate a law and there is nothing we can do if you get caught.
Needless to say, I was tempted to do a little "double-check" on Jeff's suitcase, but I refrained. He's a smart man. :-)
Jeff was very excited to have a chance to talk to the men in the prison. Although they are violent criminals, they have to earn the privilege of being a part of this conference, which would indicate to me that they want to be there. They have to maintain good behavior to stay. Jeff has such a heart for father's and their children. My contact with him is extremely limited, but he texted me this morning to say that God has already shown him a few things. It will be exciting to hear about his weekend.
I will give you more details when he returns, but I left a lot of people hanging when I posted pictures of the prison and his cell, on the old death row, on Facebook. :-)
So, no, Jeff isn't in any trouble....not that anyone is surprised about that. Hopefully he isn't in any danger, and in three days, he will be back home in the safety and comfort of his home with his wife and four sweet girls, and a very comfortable pillow and pillowcase.
|His cell on death row. Nice, huh? It's actually better than I thought.|
Have a Blessed Day!!