In July 11 Issue
Russell County NewsBy Wade Daffron, Columnist
So, I was in jail the other night...
Wait, it's not what you think.
This past week I had the honor to participate in a "Jail Revival."
I'd never done anything like that before, and when someone asked me if I'd be interested, I said my usual, "Sure, sure," and assumed someone else would go instead of me.
Monday rolled around, and as I was leaving work, I got a phone call to confirm I'd be at the jail...in one hour.
Guess I'm doing the jail revival.
I did what any brave man facing a challenge would do-I talked someone into going with me.
My companion was my 15-year-old son, Evan, who would not only help provide music for the revival, but he's also tougher than me, and I could hide behind him if something happened.
We arrived on time, and both stood outside-waiting to see who would go in first.
Organizer Wes Bottom was already there-singing a hymn in a soft voice as he set up chairs and equipment in an activity area.
He could tell we were nervous and offered words of encouragement.
"You will enjoy this," he told us-as we heard the jangling of chains approaching.
The little area we were in was soon filled with prisoners who quietly and reverently greeted us with handshakes and smiles.
I noticed Evan glancing at some of the prisoners' leg shackles and handcuffs.
"Stop!" I spat under my breath. "That ain't cool to do that."
"But you're doing it, too," he said.
I shrugged my shoulders and nodded.
The inmates sat calmly as they listened to introductions and explanations of why we were there.
I noticed they were all dressed differently.
Some were in jeans and t-shirts, some in shorts, one in slacks and a dress shirt, another in an obvious "jail uniform."
Some wore tennis shoes, some wore sandals, one had on a beautiful pair of cowboy boots.
Although I was looking all over the place, they looked straight ahead, listening to the preaching.
Every once in a while, I'd noticed one of them would sneak a peak at the "outside world" exposed through a nearby, open garage door.
It was as if they were taking in every chirping bird, every passing car, every sight, sound and smell we take for granted as freely roam in our daily lives.
They seemed to be looking for, searching for "something."
And I learned what that "something" was...
The revival lasted three nights.
On the two nights I participated, I clumsily attempt to play along with the music on my sweat-soaked guitar.
Musician extrarodinaire Billy Flatt, who was on my rigtht, would occasionally turn his head to tell me chord changes, while Evan, who was on my left, also mouthed chords to me.
Problem was, Billy would say something like, "Key of 'A'," and Evan would say, "It's in 'D"- when he was really playing 'A.' "
So I would try to find a chord in between them...without much luck.
But the applause was always plentiful and appreciative.
During mealtime, I talked with some of the inmates and discovered many of them had wives and children, some inmates had been incarcerated for a long time, some not long at all.
Some looked forward to freedom, some knew their life behind bars would be a lengthy one.
They all seemed to have "hope"-a hope you can only find in faith.
The tears they cried, the way they shook their head in agreement with the meaningful messages and powerful testimonies, or lifted their shackled hands during prayer was "real."
One thing that struck me during the event was the obvious presence of the Lord.
I've always been amazed by the "obvious."
People often fail to realize the significance of something-even if it's right in front of them.
I noticed the crowd attending the jail revival consisted of people of all shapes, sizes, shapes, ages, and colors.
To me, that was only something God could do-bring all kinds of people together for one purpose.
I certainly felt Him there.
On the last night of the revival, I was making my way through the jail, delivering meals to prisoners, when I walked past a drawing on the wall.
I passed that spot countless times, but never noticed the drawing before.
It appeared to be a pencil drawing (highly detailed), of the head of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns, and it was signed by an inmate.
I was so entranced that the person walking behind me (who was also helping serve) bumped into me as I stood staring at the drawing.
"He's here," I muttered, as I finally walked away. "He's really here."
A closing message by Bro. Bill Ramage "brought the house down" as Evan decribed it, and I left that evening feeling blessed with a new perspective on life.
I never learned all those inmates' names, but I remember their faces as I lay down each night and say my prayers.
No, I do not know the circumstances which put them in jail, and to be honest, I may not want to know.
Some of you will say, "Well, I bet you wouldn't give a hoot about them if they did something to your family or friends, would you?"Good question.
I don't have an answer to it.
If I am the Christian I wish to be, I would have to use compassion, and more importantly, forgiveness, if I was ever in that situation.
For a few hours, in that tiny jail, I had been treated with more courtesy, more respect, and had more meaningful, enjoyable, and honest conversations than I had in recent memory.
I learned that no matter of walk of life we're from, or whatever situation we're in, we really are all in it together.
We all have "chains" of some kind on us, and many of us are in our own "prison."
There is only one person who has "the key to set us "free."
And in my sentence of "life," I want to serve it with Him.