By JOSHUA ROBERT / Laramie Boomerang (re-posted with permission)
The 29-year-old man has a shaved head, tattoos up and down both arms and standard issue black-and-whites.He speaks softly into the telephone, from behind a glass partition, inside a small room of metal and concrete.The inmate covers plenty of topics in the few minutes left of the allotted visit: his 7-year-old daughter, the drug and assault convictions and life on the wrong side of the glass.
“This place,” he says of Albany County Jail, “it sucks. There are, nonetheless, reasons to be thankful, reasons to hope.He says he’s committed to sobriety.He accepts responsibility for his choices and the consequences. And, he has someone in his corner.
He is definitely a blessing, not just to me, but to other people,” the inmate says of volunteer jail chaplain Rich Henderson. “He’s made my life a little better today.”
Henderson knows the inmate through visits during prior jail stints, and on the outside as part of Celebrate Recovery, a weekly, faith-based program to overcome “hurts, habits and hang-ups.”
On this Thursday afternoon, inmate and chaplain talk philosophy, faith and the future.
“Your relationship with God is what’s important,” Henderson says into the telephone, in response to a question about denominations. “Tags aren’t what’s important.”
Henderson taps on a book, “Free on the Inside,” a Bible written at an elementary school level that simplifies concepts for readers.
The book is his constant companion on jail visits.
Henderson seeks out chapters and verses, flipping through and finding pages, encouraging the inmate with words and messages and parables.
The chaplain mentions the book’s testimonials, short passages written by inmates.“
They will help inspire you,” Henderson says. “These are people who have been where you’re at now.”