Tuesday, February 01, 2011

In Jail in Mexico

Over the course of my life I have visited people incarcerated in jail.  Every visit has been through a glass screen and over a phone.  Today was different.  I went into a maximum security prison in Mexico.

Yesterday after church a man approached one of our missionary contacts and asked if any of the team from Michigan would like to accompany him on Monday for his ministry to the prison.  Since we're out of our comfort zone, why not.  I agreed to go.

Today, Hector arrived about 1:30 and wanting to know if I was ready.  I changed my clothes, and grabbed my Bible and off we went.  I wasn't sure what I was going to be asked to do.  But preaching was a high possibility.   

The prison is about 5 miles south of the church we are working on.  It doesn't have the barbed wire of Michigan prisons, but the guard at the gate meets you with an AR-15 or M-16.  Getting in proved to be easy, and thanks be to God, so was getting out. 

The journey in the prison was through the prison yard to a church or chapel building.  When we arrived the prisoners were singing music.  The sound was different from yesterday at church.  The church mostly sings songs translated into spanish from Passion, or Hillsong, or Chris Tomlin.  The prison church was singing stuff that had a south of the border sound. 

I was asked to preach and I went through the story in Mark 2 of Jesus healing the paralytic man.  My preaching went for about 15 minutes.  I turned to the interpreter and said, I think that is it.  He said, oh, we have about another hour.  We turned to the text and began digging deeper.  The interchange was lively and beautiful.  The attentive stance of the men was a gift of grace.  Mark described Jesus as being at home or in the house in Caparenum, he was "in the house" within the prison. 

After the sermon I prayed for these men; a great priviledge.  They had a benediction and then greetings.  Most came up and shook my hand and gave me a big hug.  I have no thought that I added much to the Biblical understanding of the men within the prison.  They have a small seminary and know their Bible's well.  I have a sense that Jesus welcomed me in that place, that I stood in the house of God, a preacher, a confessor, a vessel, and mostly a recepient of God's grace.

As I walked out Hector passed me an item that the prisoners had given him, a small pepper mill.  Inscribed on it was San Lucas (Gospel of Luke) 1.37 - "For nothing is impossible with God."

Indeed.  Thanks be to God. 


1 comment:

ED BULEY said...

I like your positivity and your site. Thanks! Here's a story in exchange.
The cattle truck showed up an hour late but at least it did finally arrive. We grabbed a long strong rope, some feed and a four-wheel drive Ford Tractor that had a bucket loader on the front of it.. The man in the truck followed us over to the other barn which was across the road from the main barnyard.

The bull that we were after was almost as big as the tractor but he was white with some light brown spots and the tractor was blue. Many men have been mauled and even killed while trying to remove a bull from a pasture but this bull was good natured and like all cattle, loves feed.

Coaxing cattle with feed is an old trick and more often than not it serves the purpose perfectly. I've seen whole herds of heifers chase a quad down the road when a man sat on the back with a five gallon bucket of feed for them follow.

But, we weren't driving cattle this time, so we tried to lasso the bull and separate him from the heifers. The man who brought the truck was following the bull around a feed trough that was out in the middle of the pasture while trying to toss the looped end of the rope over the big bulls massive head. The first attempt failed because the rope only grabbed one-half of the bulls head so we had to wait for the beast to shake it off before we could try again.

The idea was to lasso the bull but to let the rope go once we did. Once the rope was finally around the bulls neck, the plan was to recapture the loose end of the tether and tie it to back end of the tractor while the bull was being preoccupied with the feed. It would have worked if the rope had fell just right on the first try but since it didn't the bull was spooked and wouldn't come close enough for us to try it again.

One has to be calm and quiet around cattle because they can spook easy. Seeing that we had no chance of capturing the bull under the circumstances we decided to relocate the feed trough and get a longer rope. We moved the trough from the pasture up to the lower level of the old barn and started shaking the feed bucket again. The cattle answered the dinner call and as fortune would have it the bull went into the barn behind a heifer whereupon we closed the two in by shutting a metal gate.

Once inside the barn, the bull was preoccupied with eating feed so we were able to lasso him correctly this time. The bull was tied close to the back end of the tractor and then led to the cattle truck which was parked down by the road. I held the tether tight while another fellow operated the tractor. I rode on the tractor by standing on a running board and secured the animal by wrapping the rope around a solid bar that was attached to the tractor.

The bull came quietly but at one point it seemed like the bulls massive head was going to get jammed in between the back tire and the tractor's frame so we halted and readjusted the rope. The ramp up into the cattle truck was already down and the side gates had been attached so we pulled the bull up to the ramp, loosed the rope and prodded the bull up into the truck.

Well that was one down and another to go. The second bull was back in the main barnyard. So we repeated the process again, over there. The second bull was younger but he seemed to be more dangerous which is unusual because generally it's the other way around.

I was the youngest of our crew of four. George was the oldest at 88 years old, his brother Bob is 84 and John is about 70 years old. I am 55. Bob has breathing problems and he can't walk around to good so he operates the tractor. Bob has poor circulation also. I took my glove off and held his frozen left hand in mine for a moment so that it would warm back up. I overlooked the snot that had been wiped off onto the wrist and grabbed it anyway.

We all know how cold noses can run in the winter time. It was zero today.