Friday, April 3, 2015

From God's unending bag of surprises

Things like this continue to surprise me, even though, by now, I should be getting used to the most unusual ways God works.

This is the story of two wrongly convicted prisoners, from two different worlds.

Ed is 70, black, and not highly educated.

Mark is 20 years younger, white, and highly educated.

I met them both in the year 2009.  Edward was in a remote location in the Upper Peninsula.  Mark was in a Muskegon prison, right near our home.  Both had compelling stories, and neither belonged behind bars.

Ed was blessed to have the assistance of Toronto-based AIDWYC, the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted.  (Yes, that’s the way they spell defense in Canada.)  But, due to alleged insurance issues, the AIDWYC trustees decided that the organization would no longer handle cases outside of that country.  Ed was devastated.  He had been clinging to that hope for eventual freedom.  I am not an attorney, and HFP does not take on cases of wrongful conviction.  The best I could do was to console him, pray for him, and try to find someone else to help.

Eventually, he got transferred.  You guessed it:  to Muskegon.  That was in the fall of 2012.  Now the two were in the same facility.

I put a bug in Mark’s ear:  See if you can do something to help this guy.

Mark, a recent graduate from Prison Fellowship’s fine TUMI seminary program, did more than that.  He virtually adopted the man!  He helped organize all of his legal papers.  He wrote briefs for him.  He helped Ed apply to Innocence Projects.  And now, God be praised, it appears that a fine IP is keenly interested!  There’s new hope for Ed!

Ed can wonder why he ever got transferred to Muskegon, Mark can wonder why God allowed him to go to prison in the first place, both can wonder why I ever introduced them to each other, and I can go on wondering just how many times God is going to use this 78-year-old crooked stick to make things happen in the lives of prisoners.

Isn’t this just like God?

Especially during Holy Week, we shouldn’t be all that surprised.

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