That day he told me about the so-called "preacher of the gospel" who held him up to scorn because of his "improper baptism" I got some insight into Brother G's heart. When he told me his story, I was furious! That some perverter of Truth would deliberately ridicule a young believer like that is just unthinkable. As I counseled with him in that office, my own emotions overcame me and I choked up in my efforts to comfort and reassure him. I stopped talking and rested my arms on the desk, taking a moment to regain my composure. Brother G reached over and patted me on the arm, the patient comforting the doctor! That would have been quite a sight to an outsider....seeing this former gangsta affectionately responding to his brother in Christ.
But our contacts continued to decrease. I would ask about him every week and the inmate leader of our group would report that Brother G was around but not fellowshipping with them. At one point, I heard that he was being sought out by members of his former gang and that he was perhaps associating with them again. Another time, or more than once, I heard that he was fellowshipping with some of the Muslim inmates. Following that story, I heard that he had denounced the Bible as "only partly true" and one man reported that Brother G had told him: "God told me to not believe all the Bible, just certain parts"
Now prisons are great breeding grounds for rumors, just as in the military you never believe more than 10% of what you hear. After the rumors of his apostasy reached me, I searched him out again and tried to pin him down. In response to my direct questions about his faith, his behavior and his attitudes, he assured me he was "good" and continuing his own study of the Word, sticking to himself as had been his pattern for several months.
Then, a couple weeks ago, we learned that he had been moved to another part of the prison. The unit he was in, where we have weekly services, is a minimum security section where only the "best behaved" inmates live. They must maintain certain stardards of behavior or they will be moved to higher security areas where they will enjoy less freedom and fewer privileges. Brother G had been moved back to the main compound, a medium security unit. It took me another week to find out why that had happened. One of the officers with whom we have dealt for over two years and who has been very helpful in many ways told me that Brother G was a "check in" (Prison life has its own language......I didn't know that phrase when I first heard it) That means he had deliberately done something to get himself moved out of the unit. Men get in trouble with the gangs, get in debt, get into some conflict where they are (or think they are) in danger, so they do enough trouble-making to get enough write-ups so that they get moved. These cases are obvious to the officials: an inmate (like Bro G) who never is any problem suddenly starts trouble, seeking write-ups. It doesn't take much, not what we would think of as "serious trouble"....carrying food out of the chow hall, sassing an officer, violation of any of the myriad rules.......and pretty quickly, you're gone.
So, maybe there was some basis for the rumors of his dealing with his old gang; maybe he got in debt to them and couldn't pay; maybe this, maybe that. And then, the optimist in me thinks: Maybe he realized that he was in danger of straying from his faith, that he was being tempted by the Muslim influence or the gang influence, or some other influence that I have no idea about, and he acted in the only way he could find to remove himself from that which was causing him to sin. It is just not possible for me to view Brother G as apostate, despite the rumors. Part of this, I admit, is the difficulty I would have in admitting that I was so wrong in being so convinced of the genuineness of his conversion. My co-workers and I often cited him as an example of the "real thing". But the Biblical evidences of the New Birth are stated and he demonstrated so much evidence that lined up with Scripture that I am still convinced that he is a child of God. I'm hoping to see him soon. We are starting a monthly service in that main compound in November and I plan to write to him and invite him to come to the meeting. In the interim, I am praying that God will continue to deal with Brother G, convicting him of sin and guiding him in his study of the Word. I hope readers of this blog will pray for him as well.