It was sometime in the latter days of July 2001. I can't seem to remember the exact day. I had been incarcerated since June 12 (2001) for committing a felony that attracted a prison sentence of up to 5 years. I had defrauded some clients to the sum of about $2000. They ordered some electronic gadgets from my eBay online store, sent money to my Bank of Edwardsville account, and I failed to deliver the goods. That transaction occurred in October 2000 and I was paying for it in my 3rd prison transfer in late July 2001.
We were having an informal Bible study session in which I was the unofficial "leader". We were on lockdown and could only talk to each other through the small opening (used to pass food to us) in each cell door. Apparently my little knowledge of Bible affairs made me a contact point for all Bible-related questions in my ward. And answering questions I did. Besides, I seemed to have all the time in the world and was seemingly not going anywhere soon.
It was Ben's turn to ask. And ask he did. Ben was someone who had been sentenced to about 5 years for trafficking drugs. He narrated how he once had a scaringly-close relationship with the one we called GOD. He narrated how he had been (& was currently) like the biblical Jonah on the run away from his assignment. His experience would eventually send chills down my spine in a way I would NEVER forget.
About a year earlier, he had lost his 3 year-old daughter to a terrible illness. He considered himself to be a close follower of Christ and eventually went on a prayer retreat to question God on why his only beloved daughter had to die. He eventually got a response that left him emotionally broken. He shared with us God's answer to his prayer: "Now you know how it felt when my ONLY SON died." He was broken. He was in tears. And out of anger, he decided it wasn't in his best interest to follow such a God that will allow a child to die just to get a message across. But he indeed got the message.
To say that I was touched would be the understatement of the century. I was cut to the heart. His narration had been an answer to one of the inmates' question. The other inmate, Donald, had asked me a question that I never in my life thought anyone would dare ask: "What does the words of John 3 verse 16 mean? For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting LIFE. Seun, what does that mean?"
Ben's interjection during my explanation was an attempt to shed more light on answering the question. I explained to Donald the gospel in what seemed like a few minutes: God created man for fellowship, man erred by disobeying some basic instructions, God punished man for his disobedience and banished him from His presence, man became miserable, lost & unfulfilled without God's presence, God felt sorry for man, God sent His Son to die as a way of redeeming man back to Him, Jesus came & died, and now man once again has the opportunity to choose LIFE by accepting the deal that was settled on the cross some two thousand years ago.
I explained to Donald that I was in prison not because I didn't know Christ as my saviour. Far from it. I was in prison because I was a follower of Christ but I backslide as a result of the cares of this world. Subsequently that led me to being a hypocrite of the Gospel that saved me. I started living a life of lies, pornography & deceit.
Getting to prison was as a result of a prayer I made out of frustration: GOD MESS ME UP. I was tired of it all. God eventually did mess me up by sending me to that one place that will ensure that I wasn't preoccupied with much to do: PRISON. Funny enough, the most interesting experiences I had in my 59 months in America was the 6 months I spent in 4 prisons. And I'm eternally grateful to God for the lessons I learnt. For it was there that I re-dedicated my life again to the Lord. For it was there that I began my writing career. For it was there that I realized that I had within reach an ultimate resource & friend for whatever I needed in life. For it was there I realized that all things indeed work together for the good of them that love and seek God wholeheartedly.
You might be presently in a prison-scenario which you feel you don't deserve. The state of your heart might be in disarray. You might even be in a relationship with confusion, lies, lack & frustration. You might have even been an ex-Christian. One thing I've come to realize is this: if the God of Jesus Christ is with you, all will be well. I'm not guaranteeing that things will transform like magic in an instant but at least you'll have peace & fulfillment in your heart. And that is a great starting point for new beginnings.
I subsequently invite you to make the same decision I did years ago believing that today marks the beginning of a new & impactfull YOU. If you would like to give or re-dedicate your life to Christ, please pray this prayer from your heart: Father, I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus Christ died for me, that you raised Him from the dead, please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord & saviour. Amen.
Feel free to send me a message if you prayed this prayer wholeheartedly and let's help each other grow in the knowledge & ways of our Lord.