“PRAISE GOD! PLEASE, GOD!” by Tony Casson

“Let them praise the Lord for His great love
and for the wonderful things He has done for them.” Psalm 107:8 NLT

Like thieves in the night, they came and stole him away.

Sounds pretty dramatic, doesn’t it? Actually, it was, in a way. Not too long ago, at around 3 AM, someone went into my friend Rob’s cell and woke him up to tell him to ‘pack out’ and get ready to travel. He was being transferred to another location, which in and of itself is not an unusual occurrence. In this case, however, he had not been designated ahead of time, and had no idea. He asked the C.O. if he could check and see where he was being sent and I can only imagine his surprise and pleasure at the response.

I know Rob prayed daily for God to intervene and move him closer to his family. His family lives in Norfolk, Va. and Washington, D.C., as well as somewhere else in that vicinity. The C.O. informed him that he was being moved to Petersburg, Va. which should ensure that Rob receives almost weekly visits from his wife, daughters, or son. He should also get to see his new bright-red-haired granddaughter! Rob did get visits here on occasion, but they were very inconvenient for the family (as they are for SO many). In fact, one of his daughter’s had just been to visit him the previous weekend. Had they known he was going to be that close, she probably would have waited. But…no matter…Rob is going to be near those he loves!

Like Steve Marshall before him, I will miss Rob. He answered a great many questions for me and was always available to offer guidance and advice, or just to listen. We discussed things of worldly importance, and of NO importance. We talked of family and friends, the past and the future, and I will surely notice his absence. That said, I am very grateful to God that another GOOD person will be closer to his family.

PRAISE GOD! I believe he heard Rob’s prayers and answered them! Good luck to you, Rob, and may God bless you and your family!

“We put our hope in the Lord,
He is our help and our shield.”
Psalm 33:20 NLT

A couple of days after the great news about Rob, I was sitting in the dining hall eating my dinner. The tables are round with 4 circular seats attached to each one. The seat to my right was empty when a very elderly man I had not seen before leaned on the table and asked if he could join us. I said that he could, of course, and the man sat heavily into the chair. I inquired if he was alright and he said that he wasn’t sure. in the course of the next 5 minutes, I discovered that he was a ‘self-surrender’ as I was, and had just been released from the S.H.U. after 5 days of ‘segregation’ for a TB test. I learned that he was 82 years old and had just begun serving a 6 year sentence. I also learned that he was in poor health, and one got the impression that he was in the early stages of dementia. In addition, I learned that he was uncertain as to whether or not he would be able to walk back to his housing unit, which happened to be one of the furthest from the dining hall. I told him I would get him a wheelchair and get him ‘home’.

I spoke with one of the officers monitoring the dinner and he called a lieutenant over. He, in turn, called medical services and then sent me over to pick up a wheelchair. By the time I returned, the gentleman had been joined by my friend Richard Roy, as well as a couple other people from his unit, which was right next door to where I was going to return my new ‘friend’. One of the men with Richard said he would push him back, and we all got up to leave together. The old man was grateful and squeezed my hand. I didn’t know whether to cry or be physically ill over the entire situation.

On our way out, we passed the 2 female officers who monitored the Toastmasters organization twice a month and had shown themselves to be decent individuals. I looked at them, and in answer to their questioning looks at us and the old man, I asked them, “Is this the best we can do for an 82 year old man? 6 years in prison? We should all be ashamed of our country.”

And we should, for no matter WHAT the elderly gentleman was guilty of, he obviously was incapable of inflicting harm on anyone. And consider this, he was deemed harmless enough to be on pre-trial release, and then to be allowed to self-surrender after pleading guilty to whatever crime it was. And whoever the judge was found it necessary, and appropriate, to give the man 6 years in prison at 82 years of age!

PLEASE, God! Help me to understand HOW our society has gotten to the point that imprisoning a feeble 82 year old man, who is in poor health, for 6 YEARS is the solution to our problems? And I ask all of you to join me in asking that question of our government.

God bless you all.

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