I did some cool things in Searcy. I didn’t realize how cool it actually was until I went somewhere else and started to realize that not everyone does those kinds of things.
One of the greatest things I was able to do there was jail ministry. Every week me and a friend, usually my friend Dylan Pyeatt, would go into J-Pod and hang out with gang-bangers, meth heads and the occasional murderer. We developed some great friendships there that led far beyond the cells and confines of White County Jail. Often we would meet up with guys once they got out, trying to be a good influence, helping them get on their feet. I had a guy live with me in the dorms for a while, and we were always game to give a person a ride from point A to point B.
We really enjoyed our time there. There were days of frustration, but I really do tend to sweep those under the rug when I look back and think about some of the really great times there.
From all those years I still have one friend that I am in constant contact with and that is my friend Woody. I have talked about Woody before so I will not go into his story. But suffice it to say, it is a sad one. He was, in my humble opinion, tricked into signing an awful sentence while in the throes of guilt.
Woody is one of the only people from my time in jail whose seed I got to watch really burst into authentic faith. He is going to be in prison for a long time, he is not acting faithfully to achieve a better sentence or get an early release. He is not eligible for a long time. Instead, I have seen his faith grow exponentially after receiving his harsh sentence and his hopes of early release being dashed.
We trade about a letter a week, he writing from Cummins unit in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. I bet over the course of our friendship we have traded over a hundred letters. I still have all of his.
Logan has gotten into reading his letters and sharing in our correspondence. So it was very exciting for her to finally get to meet him a few weeks ago when we took a trip to Pine Bluff. He is lonely in jail so mostly we just listened to his stories about life in and out of prison. He told us about his family, about his co-prisoners and about Jesus. He talked a lot about his life before jail, prison and Christ.
When we left the prison Logan said, “I bet I wouldn’t even recognize him before he knew Jesus. I bet he was a completely different person, he would have even looked different.”
I told Woody about this, knowing it would encourage him. He sent me a letter today saying, “Logan would not have known me before the Lord came into my heart and life. You would have been to find anyone (including my family) who would give a good testimony of me.” He glowingly added how excited he was to find out that he had gotten a good behavior report from one of his prison supervisors and how that was another testament to his changing life.
I love Woody’s letters. He is such an upbeat spirit and a consistently changing life. God works in strange ways, on strange people. We can all testify to that.