Christmas and Who Got the Blessing?
by Lee Davis, Kairos Volunteer and GraceInside family!
In April 2011, I sat beside Michael for the KAIROS four-day weekend in Sussex II State Prison. I don’t know how long he had been in and I had no idea how much longer his sentence was. I did know right off the bat he was an imposing figure of a man – a shiny shaved head and tattoos around his neck and both arms. We hit it off immediately. He was a great guy, enthusiastic about his new found freedom in Christ and anxious to share the joy that now flowed through him. You know how Moses’ face shined when he came down from Mount Sinai with the two covenant tablets (Exodus 34:29)? That’s the way Michael’s face shined. He was a natural born leader of men who had apparently made some very bad choices along the way. Here he was in prison doing serious time. He used the time to learn about his Creator, about the gift of grace and about the peace that passeth all understanding.
Michael was a stand-out young man. He quickly became a leader in the KAIROS program that was beginning to take shape in Sussex II. He was selected to serve as a CHA (a Chaplains Assistant) at the next KAIROS weekend the following October. He never missed an opportunity to be in community with the KAIROS family, residents and team members. (If you remember reading my short essay “CD’s in an Envelope” published in Chimes several years ago – the CD’s were from Michael.)
In 2013 Michael’s great demeanor and stellar attitude earned him a move to a lower level prison in Chesapeake. There he swiftly rose to the top and served as an integral part of the Christian community. He met regularly with the Warden and with the Warden’s visitors. He met Mayors and City Councilmen. He presented himself well and was well-spoken and he gave all of the glory to God. Michael knows that it is God who has been carrying him.
Last August we learned that Michael was going before the Parole Board and we asked for your prayers. In November we learned that he had indeed won parole and would be released in “four or five months”. Thanks be to God! Prayers answered.
And then the miracle happened! On Monday, December 19, Michael learned that he would be released that very week on Thursday, December 22nd. Oh my, Christmas at home with family, with his parents and his daughters and his grandson whom he had never met.
Through Gods amazing grace, Michael attended the glorious eight o’clock Christmas Eve service here at Eastern Shore Chapel with Heidi, Roger Weeden and me. It was simply overwhelming.
As a member of this wonderful church since I was 21 years old (1968), I have experienced a lot in this place. I have found God and the Holy Spirit present here many, many times. Never ever have I felt more blessed or nearer to my Heavenly Father than I did that very special Christmas Eve sitting in a packed pew shoulder to shoulder with my tattooed friend. Michael was greeted warmly by everyone he met here and he was blessed, too. Thank you, Eastern Shore Chapel, for making this all possible.
(December 2017 update – Michael is doing fine, glory to God! Transition is never easy and his is no different. Please keep Michael and his family in your prayers.)