Friday, August 7th, 2015
RAPHAEL – THE REST OF THE STORY
I visited Raphael in the state penitentiary yesterday afternoon, where he’ll spend the first three years of an eight-year sentence. It was a formidable atmosphere. Dark gray walls outside. Guards everywhere inside. Gates opening and closing under heavy scrutiny. I spent more than an hour in a stark lobby waiting my turn, amidst 20 other sad-looking souls slumped in uncomfortable chairs, perking up their ears every time a name was called.
Raphael has been abandoned by his family. Even his pastor thinks his sin is too terrible to forgive and won’t visit him. I’d like to tell him he needs to find another walk in life.
I was Raphael’s first visitor; there may be no others. He had tears in his eyes as I talked to him on the other side of a glass barrier. He spends 22 hours a day in his cell and is hoping to get a job that will give him something to do. I started to have tears in my eyes listening to such bleakness.
He’s lost his freedom, but he hasn’t lost Christ. His faith is strong. He spends his time reading the Bible and praying for his family. He accepts his lot in life, knowing a grand future awaits him in heaven one day. And that’s the rest of the story.