Four days of Prison Ministry – Day 4

day4The next day, after I thought I had seen the worst, they took us to the psychiatric lock down. This was more than I could understand. There were four wings, two were total lock down with over 80 men in these two wards. Some of these men were never let out. I was told they were all convicted felons, but I wondered how some of them could be found fit to stand trial.

As I was going from cell to cell, passing out books and praying with the ones who wanted prayer, I saw many sites I will never forget. One little man, who did not respond to my voice, had taken toilet paper and tied it into little knots, then tied them on his clothing and hair. He was covered from head to toe. I could not help a feeling of sorrow that came over me, as I stood looking through his bullet proof window at him.

The next man that got my attention, was standing at his door, making a loud grunting noise. I asked the guard if he ever stopped the noise; his response was, only a couple of hours a day when he sleeps. I went to his door and told him I would pray with him, if he would place this hand on the glass in front of mine. To my surprise he did and stopped his grunting while I prayed; even the guard was surprised.

The next man had his hands sticking out of his cell through the food slot, and as soon as the guard made him pull his hands back into his cell and closed the food slot door, he went crazy, and starting smashing on the food slot door until it opened with a bang. No sooner had it opened, than he had his hands sticking out again, but as soon as he had them in place, he stopped going crazy.

This had to be the closest place to Hell I had ever seen. If you have ever wondered about demon possession, one hour in there would sure convince you that it is real. The next two wards had about 20 men in each. You could tell these men had a mental problem, but were not violent. They were put there mainly for their own protection. There was no way these mild, meek men could have survived in the general population of the prison. Even though I knew this, there was still something inside me saying this was not right. Was this the best mankind could do for these poor lost souls?

Tony and Rick played some gospel tunes, and when they did, all the inmates except for one, did not move an inch, except to put on a smile or a look of contentment on their faces. What surprised me most was when the call for salvation was given, just about half of these men responded. When Tony prayed for them, one got down on his knees, placed his hands tightly together, then lowered his head onto his hands. It was a moving experience, to say the least.

That night, we finished our tour with a concert in the chapel. By now, the inmates were running to the chapel in hopes they would get in. The chapel only held 60 men and there were over 2000 in the prison.

That last night, I prayed with some of the men who wanted prayer, but in this prison I was not allowed to touch the inmates. In November of 2011, one of the guards was attacked by an inmate who stabbed the guard, then broke his neck, near the chapel, so you might say the Chaplain was a bit nervous. Even with this, we still had many, many salvations, and a good time of praise and worship.

The one thing that stands out the most about these crusades is the love that Jesus has for these lost men, second is the divine calling that God has placed into the heart and soul of Tony Loeffler who has been devoting his life to prison ministry for over 40 years. This year alone, he has well over one hundred concerts booked in prisons, I also have a deep appreciation for the volunteers who pay all their own expenses and give of their time, because of a love in their hearts for Jesus and for their neighbours. This is truly what Christianity is all about. Praise the Lord! (by Brent Bishop)

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