Friday evening I got a telephone message from a paroled inmate from one of our prison groups. He was supposed to be in a halfway house in Nashville. His message sounded like a "distress call" for money and sure enough, when I talked with him Saturday, money was on his mind.
This is not good for several reasons, not the least of which is that I have no money to send. Cynical old me has all this negative stuff go through his mind about "back on drugs" etc. That happens and though this brother was one with a strong testimony in our group, it's not impossible.
He was not very clear about his situation except to say that he was "thrown out" of the halfway house and was back on the streets. He wanted me to send him a "money-gram" from Wal-Mart. I told him I had other ideas and would get back to him. I needed time to pray and think about how to handle the situation. He told me where he was specifically in the Big City and I knew that he was very close to a big church which has a good outreach to former inmates.
I emailed the senior pastor there and he got right back to me with: Tell him to call me and we'll see what we can do. So, I gave Donald the number and left the ball in his court. Except I was still wondering why he got "throwed out" of the half-way house. I had the name of the place in my mind so I called there, asked to speak to the House Manager, then asked the guy what was happening with Donald. He acted as if he'd never heard of him and said he was actually the Director and would have to have the Manager call me back. That sounded fishy......and they never called back.
So, just a few minutes ago, Donald called me again. "How are you doing?" I asked. "Better than ever in my life" he said. "Praise the Lord! I am living in Such-and-such House and I have a job!" He called the church when I gave him that number. They paid the $250. it took to get him a place in the house and they arranged to get him a job!
This is already a great story to the Glory of God but let me tell you "the rest of the story"--
I had the house name wrong. He was living in So-and-so House, where he was thrown out, because as he says "things are not right there" (All kinds of stuff does go on in some halfway houses....drug dealing, etc) The house I called was not the one where he was; that name was in my mind because two other guys from our Sunday group are living there--one of them is the House Manager!
So, because I had called there asking about Donald, when he showed up the next day, they knew a lot about him, and were almost expecting him! He's with guys he knew back a year or so ago when he was in the same unit with them. These are older men (55-65) and solid, stable Christians.
He said the Director (the guy I talked to) told him: "Oh, yeah, Chaplain Franklin already called about you......" !!!
I had this all wrong.
I was suspicious that Donald was back in trouble.
I called the wrong house.
All I did that was right was direct him to a non-Baptist, non-calvinist church......one which just ministers to the "undesirables" in their community.
Down side is that Donald thinks I really did something great......though we had a great time praising the Lord for His great kindness....
And I learned another lesson on the Providential workings of a Sovereign God. Hallelujah!