Thursday, October 17, 2013

All In/All Out

Bring me out of prison so I can thank you. The godly will crowd around me, for you are good to me. ~ Psalm 142: 7

There are different kinds of prisons, but at least once a week I spend time talking with men who are currently in prison, or transitioning out of Federal and State Prisons. Through conversation, these men take me into their world. We talk about how they landed in prison, how long they have been incarcerated. As trust is gained, so, too, is permission to go deeper into their story.

Earlier this week Sandy and I were talking about Psalm 142, and looking at it from different perspectives and applications. And don't you know, later that same day God arranged an opportunity for me to talk to a man who has been behind bars for fifteen years, and to another young man who was a former gang-banger, a prisoner of a different kind--locked up within the walls of a destructive lifestyle.

During both conversations, it seemed that God was giving me the green light to drill beneath the surface and get more of their story. Both hold the hope of ending well. Why? Because godly people are reaching out to them.

My friend will soon finish his sentence behind literal barriers and bars. Outside, Believers--the godly crowd around him, have stayed in touch with him and his family and are helping him put a plan together to live in a world with no visible walls. My felon friend is obviously a bright guy, his relationship with God is remarkable and seems as genuine as any I know. When the time is right, and with his permission, I will write his story. Just know this--I love the guy, his testimony is compelling, and I pray for him daily.

The second guy goes by the name "Whop." Short for Whopper.

"I was a really big baby when I was born, so my grandma called me Whopper, like in Burger King." He explained.

Whop writes, produces, and performs rap music that carries themes of deliverance he has found in Christ. Whop is All In with Christ, and All Out of the gang-banger life. My favorite song he has written tells of his journey and is titled "Crossed Over." I play it regularly. Ironically, he isn't allowed to sing the new song God has given him in his church (like I said, there are different kinds of prisons and chains). It doesn't bother him. He said his church family loves him in other ways--the godly crowd around him, helping him grow in Christ. He loves them. Venues continue to open for Whop to share the redemption story, and he keeps singing of his Redeemer. Recently, Whop sang at the funeral of one of his friends he used to gang-bang with--a young man shot to death in a drive-by shooting. He had a hard time singing, and with a touch of embarrassment, said he cried through most of it. Hundreds were at the funeral. Many of them from Whop's old gang. After the service, out in the parking lot, Whop shared the gospel with a group of five from the "Hood."

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