Will had been on the hospital wing a week when he was sweeping the fourth floor landing, and an inmate Kenny Price looked out of his hatch as Will passed his cell.
“Oi tea boy,” Kenny said.
Will felt slightly irritated at Kenny’s tone and answered, “What,” as he looked through Kenny’s hatch.
Kenny was holding a small piece of cannabis between his thumb and forefinger and he said, “Give this bit of puff to my mate Micky Dingle in cell 39 on the three’s.”
Will stared at Kenny a moment and thought to himself that Kenny looked like one of the most evil people he’d ever seen, then Will said, “Sorry mate I can’t do that.”
“Eh,” Kenny replied looking even more serious, “Whad ya mean you can’t do that?”
“I can’t pass drugs,” Will said simply, “I’m a Christian.”
“A Christian?” Kenny said looking like he was about to explode, then he said, “I don’t care if you’re the bloody pope. Just pass the puff to my pal or I’m gonna do you some serious damage.”
“I’m not frightened of you,” Will said simply, and he turned to continue sweeping the landing.
Kenny’s eyes looked like they’d pop out of his head and angry veins appeared on his forehead, and with a voice that sounded like ice, Kenny said, “I’ll deal with you later tea boy. You dunno who your dealin’ with.”
“Whatever,” Will said unimpressed, and he continued sweeping the landing.
Will went on to the exercise yard in the afternoon. There were about a 150 inmates on the yard. Half the wing at a time. Around the edges of the yard were also some small groups of prison officers.
Will was walking around with Tony Peters, a professional shop lifter who’d just been sentenced to two years. Tony had been put on the hospital wing for observation as he’d asked the prison doctor for antidepressants. Will knew Tony from another prison.
As Will and Tony were walking, Kenny Price suddenly stepped in front of Will and faced him. He was with two other inmates, one black and the other mixed race.
“You wanna get mouthy with me now screws tea boy?” Asked Kenny, his eyes bulging like he was psychotic.
“I don’t want no trouble man,” Will replied as he tried to step round him.
Kenny looked around the yard and saw there were no officers looking in their direction and Kenny suddenly gave a right hook punch to the side of Will face. But Will didn’t even flinch.
Kenny sneered, “You gonna forgive me Jesus boy? Or are you gonna be a man and fight back?”
Will surprised himself by suddenly smiling and said, “Jesus said in the bible that if a man strikes you on the cheek, then turn to him the other cheek also…So if you wanna hit me this side as well, do it.”
Kenny clenched his fist and thought about hitting Will again, but then he said, “You’re a nutter,” And walked away.
Will smiled and continued walking.
When they’d got to the other side of the exercise yard, Tony said sounding frightened, “Do you know who that is?
“No,” Said will, seeming unconcerned, “Who is it?”
“That’s Kenny Price,” Said Tony, looking round nervously to make sure he was out of Kenny’s earshot, “He’s a psychopathic serial killer. He just got four life sentences for killing four prostitutes. The judge recommended that he never gets released.”
“I better start praying for him then,” Will said smiling, “He needs Jesus.”
“I’m being serious,” Said Tony, sounding even more frightened, “You need to get off the hospital wing. You don’t know what he could do to you. ‘E’s never getting out, so ‘e’s got nothing to lose.”
Will smiled and said, “Jesus will look after me.”
Tony still looked frightened and said, “How can you be so calm?”
“I dunno,” Will answered simply, “All I know is that since I became a Christian, I just feel peace most of the time.”
Tony just stared at Will like he thought Will was on a different planet, then Tony said, “I don’t think you realise how serious this is.”
Will smiled again and said, “An’ I don’t think you realise how powerful my Jesus is. If it weren’t for Jesus I’d have been dead already.”
Tony didn’t know what to say.
The next morning Will was on the hotplate on the ground floor serving breakfast with four other inmates and a couple of officers. Will was serving the porridge.
Suddenly Will saw Kenny Price. For a second Will felt tense, but then he suddenly calmed. Kenny looked different. The evil arrogance was gone and he looked slightly nervous and didn’t make eye contact when Will ladled porridge into Kenny’s bowl.
Later on Will was sweeping the fours landing and as he got to Kenny’s cell, Kenny said quietly through the open cell hatch, “Oi mate.”
“Yeah,” Will answered slightly weary.
“I just wanna apologise for chinning you on the yard yesterday.”
Will raised his eyebrows surprised and said, “Don’t worry about it.”
Kenny then blurted, “One of my pals has got a blade in e’s cell. I was gonna get it off him and stab you to death on the exercise yard today.”
Will suddenly looked shocked, and Kenny continued, “After I got off the exercise yard yesterday I was in a rage. I was angry all day an’ night. I really wanted to kill you. I’m never gettin’ out, I’ve got nothin’ to lose.”
Will just stared at Kenny without speaking and Kenny continued, “Then last night I had a dream. I dreamed that you an’ Jesus came into my cell an’ Jesus said somethin’ like. Do not harm this man. He loves prisoners, an’ when ‘e gets out he’ll come back voluntarily into jails to tell inmates about me. An’ those that accept me will become free in my love.”
Kenny looked confused and continued, “I’ve never had such a real dream before. Its like you an’ Jesus really came into my cell.”
Will seemed astonished and said, “Jesus can reveal himself to people in all different ways.”
“I wish I had a future like you. I wish I could get out one day an’ help prisoners. But I ain’t ever gettin’ out. I’ll never be free.”
Will was suddenly filled with compassion and said, “Jesus can set you free in your heart, mind and spirit even if you’re still in prison.”
“How can ‘e do that?” Kenny asked.
“You just have to invite him into your heart an’ give your life to him.”
“Whad’ya mean…Become a Christian?”
“How do you do that?”
“You just need to repent of all your sins and ask him to be Lord of your life.”
Kenny looked slightly confused and Will asked, “Would you like to become a Christian?”
“Yeah…I want what you’ve got. You just seem different from most of the other prisoners in here. You can just see that you’ve got peace in ya.”
“Ok,” Will said, “If you wanna become a Christian just repeat what I say.”
Will then said the salvation prayer that the Michael the prison priest had prayed with Will over a week before, and Kenny repeated it word for word. After Kenny had ended the prayer with the last word ‘Amen,’ he suddenly put his hand out through the hatch and shook hands with Will, and Kenny said sincerely, “Thank you man. Thank you so much.”
As Will continued sweeping the landing after he’d led Kenny to become a Christian, Will’s mind was deep in thought, and he felt overawed. He thought about what Kenny had said about Jesus saying that Will would come back into prisons to tell the inmates about Jesus. He knew that some ex prisoners who’d become Christians, came back into jail with civilian church groups, but he’d never really thought that he’d do that, but right now he realised that he’d love to do that. He wanted other inmates to have what he now had, which was a real sense of love and freedom.
After he’d swept the landing, he went back into his cell, sat on the bed and closed his eyes and with his hands together in prayer he said, “Do you want me to help prisoners Jesus?”
Within moments Will was surprised to hear a voice in his head say, “Isaiah 61 verse 1.”
Will knew that Isaiah was a book in the bible, so he picked up the bible that the priest Michael had given him later in the day when he’d become a Christian. Will turned excitedly to the scripture he’d just heard and read it. It said. “The spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”
As Will read that scripture, it was like the bible was a living, breathing book, and the words had leapt off the page. And Will suddenly knew he had a calling in life, and while he was in prison and when he got out, he would help prisoners.
It had been exactly a month since Will had been sentenced to seven years. That day he had a visit from his common law wife Jenny, his co-defendant Peter, and Peter’s partner Kerry. They all sat at a small table in the crowded visiting hall. Will looked at Peter, pretended to scowl and asked, “How come you got three years suspended an’ I got five years for the same crime?”
Peter looked slightly uneasy and said, “Its cos I had a different judge mate, an’ you escaped when we were in the police station together.”
Kerry added slightly defensive, “Its also cos I’d just gave birth an’ Peter’s tutor Paul on the filmmaking course he’s doin’ stood up for Peter in court an’ gave him a character reference. If it weren’t for that, Peter would have probably got five years as well.”
Will suddenly smiled and said, “I’m only pullin’ yer leg mate. But you were lucky man. Some people were saying that you must of bin a grass to get off that lightly. But I said to them…No way man. You’d never grass on anyone. An’ I’ve known you since we were kids.”
Peter suddenly relaxed and added, “I was just lucky man. I had a good barrister as well.
They pause a moment, then Peter said, “What’s all this about you becoming a Christian? I read your letter twice an’ I was gobsmacked.”
Will smiled and said, “Its true. The day I got sentenced I was just about to hang meself in my cell an’ Jesus just appeared an’ told me that ‘e loved me an’ that I’ve got a good future. The next day I saw the priest an’ become a Christian by saying the salvation prayer.”
Peter looked around the visiting hall, then said quietly, “Its alright mate. You can tell me. Are you just pretending you’re a Christian an’ making out you’ve changed, hoping that they’ll let you out early on parole?”
Will looked slightly wounded and said, “Nah mate. I really am a Christian now.”
Peter studied him a moment, then said, “Well you do look slightly different.”
“Whad ya mean?”
“I dunno,” Answered Peter, “You used to always look a bit dark an’ edgy all the time. But now you look lighter. Like you’re shining a bit. An’ you look clean an’ peaceful. I can’t really explain it…You just seem different.”
Will smiled, “That’s the holy spirit in me mate.”
The four of them pause a moment, then Will said, “The three of you should become Christians. It will change yer life. You’ll feel so much different. You’ll feel free.”
Peter and Kerry squirmed in their chairs slightly, and Peter said, “Its not really my scene mate. I can see its working for you, but its not really for me.”
“It is for you,” Will said with certainty, “Jesus is for everyone.”
Peter and Kerry looked more uncomfortable, then Jenny said, “I’m thinking of doing a church Alpha course. I can see that Will really has changed. Its made me curious.”
“Whats an Alpha course?” Asked Peter.
“It’s a ten week course,” Said Will, “Usually two hours a week where you get taught about what Christians believe, an’ you can ask any questions you want about God. Some people become Christians at the end of it, an’ some don’t. No one will force you into becoming a Christian. It has to be your free choice.”
No one spoke for a moment, then Will looked at Peter and Kerry and said, “Why don’t you think about doing an Alpha course…Jenny’s thinking of doin’ one…You can all do it together.”
Peter, Kerry and Jenny looked at each other for a moment, then Peter surprised himself by saying, “Ok…I’ll think about it.”
Will looked at Kerry smiling and asked, “What about you Kerry?”
Kerry looked slightly embarrassed, then said, “Well if Peter an’ Jenny do, I will as well.”
Will looked at them all smiling and said, “Cool. Jesus is gonna set you all free.”
Later that night Peter and Kerry were seated on the sofa of their council flat. They’d earlier ordered pizza and Peter looked slightly puzzled and said, “What do you think about what Will said about becoming a Christian?”
“I dunno what to think,” Kerry replied, “Seems a bit weird to me. But also a bit amazing. I can tell ‘e’s definitely changed. ‘E just seemed different. Like ‘e’s at peace.”
“Do you really think we should do an Alpha course?”
“I dunno,” Kerry answered, “I still need to think about it.”
Suddenly they heard their letter box knock, “Must be the pizza,” Said Peter.
When Peter got to the door he realised the knock had been a leaflet coming through his letter box. He bent down to pick it up and looked at it. He then brought it into the living room and he looked awestruck as he said to Kerry, “This is spooky man. This leaflets just come through the door.”
“What. What is it?”
Peter stared at the leaflet a moment, still stunned and said, “It’s a leaflet from the church on the corner, inviting people to an Alpha course starting next week.”
“Show it to me,” Said Kerry looking half frightened and half excited.
Peter handed the leaflet to Kerry, who studied it a moment, then she said sounding in awe, “I think Gods calling us.”
Peter just stared at her, also awestruck and said, “So do I.”
Moments later the pizza arrived, and when Peter paid the delivery man and gave him a two pound tip, the man smiled and said, “God bless you mate.”
Peter then noticed the small silver cross on a chain around the mans neck, and the penny suddenly dropped, and Peter just knew that Jesus was God.