By AJ Rasmussen
Twelve years of my story, my story is that I’d never been to segregation, except a handful of hours one occasion based on an individual lie that sent about 10 of us there, only to return and that individual went instead.
Now into my third week on Solitary Confinement, I find myself in a tug-o-war. I should be angry I suppose? I should have a right to be anyhow, in theory. Yet the person who the skinheads sent after me I can only seem to find compassion for. Compassion because I feel sorry for this individual who doesn’t have the backbone to not do what another “man”, I use that term lightly, tells him to. I see it over and over, a youngster comes to prison, lost hopeless, and then these prison “gangs” swoop in to pick him up, as though they care for them. In reality they just want to feel as they have control, something they’ve likely never had in their life, it’s sad to be honest.
This tug-o-war I speak of is one where, my enemy, who is not the skinhead, but rather the devil himself (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). I really ought to be praying for these poor guys. And not only pray for them, but love them! Bless them! Do good to them! Holy Lord Jesus, you surely must have tipped back a few too many glasses of wine when you commanded this of us…..right? (Matthew 5:43-44).
Just this past month (January) in our two-day Kairos we discussed much of this, including my extreme difficulty to follow Matthew 5:43-44. The man I spoke to this with was one of these people who persecuted anyone who didn’t fit a specific mold. He’s done well over 30 years straight, and to know the guy today- it is really impossible to fathom him as that type of person, but God!
As we spoke, I was reminded of a testimony of a fence-rider who badly wanted the new life of Christ, but had a real hard time shaking his ties to this group of individuals. He spoke of a hellacious upbringing which would bring the “strongest” of men and women to tears. This was a testimony I needed to hear to remind me that each person has a past, and we often don’t know what it is. I’d conveniently stuffed this away, however, because it’s hard to have enmity and compassion at the same time. “I” didn’t want to have compassion for this group of individuals! But God…..
I was reminded of this testimony as well as the testimony of this man I now sat across from. God can change the worst of the worst. All we have to do is look at Paul’s story, or better yet, our own!
But God, I want to whine, it is hard! Another brother has told me numerous times-stop! Stop speaking words of death, speak words of life! “All things are possible with God: he said, as did Jesus <sigh> un Matthew 19:26.
My world was turned upside down on February 6th due to this altercation, an altercation I didn’t contribute to. I’d heard testimony of two brothers who, when assaulted, did not fight back! I thought to myself, “oh boy-these men are far better than me! Yet when it came time, I’d prepared for such in my thoughts and prayers and when it came time, not only did the Lord protect me, He allowed me to “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39) as these other two men did. God’s hand was clearly involved, as He had been with the other men. It wasn’t that they were “better” than me, rather it was through Christ in them and me, that allowed us to not return anger for anger.
So I end this with the words yet ongoing, Tug-O-War, Each Day I have to be reminded by the Spirit, when doubt, or anger attempts to infiltrate my mind, the Spirit says “ugh ugh! Pray!”. And I get a little grin and say “Sorry Lord” and start praying for these children of God who are being led by bit and harness of the devil, that Satan have no dominion over them, that the Lord bless them and keep them, that Jesus do for them as He’s done for me and all of you.
I find solace in reading the same Tug-O-War King David fought, it lets me know we are in good company!
Paul said, “Love is patient, love is kind, Love does not envy, Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up, it does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoice in truth; Bears ALL things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, Love Never Fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8A).
We also must remember what Paul spoke in Romans 5 “we glory in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance character, and character hope (vs; 3-4).
Christ nor His scripture even said this walk on Earth would be easy, in fact He said quite the opposite, that if He found persecution, we too can expect it. He loves us and promised to never give us more than we can bear. So, stay strong soldiers! We may lose a battle here or there, but in the end-we win the war!!
The Tug-O-War! God Bless!