Every day when I get out of bed I thank God for another day of life, for the opportunity to live in the greatest nation in the world and for the opportunity to be of service to my fellow man.
It took me many years to finally realize that the key to success and happiness is to forget myself, my needs, my wants and to be about the business of serving God by helping those in the world around me. This is the source of all true and lasting rewards, and I hope you have also made this discovery.
As it relates to serving others, I got a letter the other day from a man who said he had a burning desire to help kids. He has a serious problem, however, because he is sitting in a cell on Death Row in a prison in one of our Southern states. Over the years, I have heard from many prison inmates who have told me some sad stories, but until I got this letter I had never heard from an inmate on Death Row. It gave me an eerie feeling to know that I was communicating with someone who may be nearing the end of his days on earth and would be put to death for a crime he had committed.
Actually, John (not his real name) has written me twice. After he wrote me the first time I sent him a copy of one of my books because I thought it would give him something positive to think about as he passed his time away. When he wrote me back, he was really excited because inmates are not supposed to receive books unless they had been pre-approved, but the mail guard brought him my book with the request that he also wanted to read it.
It was in his second letter that he poured out his heart to me and told me that he wanted badly to help kids. He said, “I am not interested in getting out of prison, but I can relate to kids who are on drugs, homeless and abused."
There is no way for me to know how much good it will do, but I know there are many young people who read my column, along with thousands and thousands of parents and grandparents. While most of these young people are not in trouble, some are and many others are living on the edge. I realize that what I say in this realm may not carry much weight, but maybe, just maybe, words from an inmate on Death Row may have a way of reaching some people before it’s too late. It is already too late for John, and for me that is so sad.
Here is a portion of John’s letter that will let you know exactly where he is and how he got there.
"You see, Jim, I can relate to kids that’s messed up on drugs, homeless, abused kids. By the time I was 12 or 13 years old, I got busted for the first time for selling 2 pounds of weed. I went on from there to get kicked out of school at age 15 for drugs. I went from that to age 20 and I killed a man for drugs. From age 20, I came here to Death Row. But I was still heavy into drugs. I got busted in here back in January for meth, and while I was doing my 30 days in the hole, I started reading my Bible.
“I wanted to change. I wanted a better life. So before I came out of the hole, I was determined to stop using drugs. Well, just as soon as I got out of the hole, my ‘then’ friends were waiting for me and they gave me some dope. Well, I threw it on my cabinet and was determined not to do it. But it kept calling me and I fired up one of the joints. I took one drag and I got so mad at myself. I threw it away! Then I got down on my knees and I cried and cried out to God. I cried for Jesus to come into my life and help me. I don’t know how long I was on that floor weeping. But when I came up I was a new man. Praise God for His Holy Spirit is truly in me. From that time on I have been moving forward.
“I have lost all of those so-called friends. They don’t come around me any more. I have also lost a lot of my friends on the street. They don’t want to hear the truth about how great God is. He has already opened many doors for me."
That’s basically the end of John’s story and he says he wants to help kids. He has no earthly idea that I am writing this column to share his story. Whether he realizes it or not, he is helping kids.
If parents and grandparents who are reading this true-life story cannot see the dangers of drugs and what they can do to a person’s life, then sadly it’s too late for them, as well.
When it comes to John’s newfound faith, I’m well aware that over the years there have been millions of “jailhouse” conversions and I don’t know whether his was real or not.
God knows we can lie to other people, but we can’t lie to God. Personally, I’m just glad there is a God in heaven that we can cry out to when we are in the depths of despair.
(Editor’s Note: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. He may be contacted at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)