Teaching to Learn and Learning to Teach

Prison Reform
February 7, 2010, 7:52 am
Filed under: Books, Christian Living, Cool Finds, current issues, Life, Politics, tmc

Cain's Redemption

I recently read this book which is a quick read. I was encouraged in chapel on Wednesday to hear how believers are ministering to prisoners and to hear what God is at work doing in reforming lives of prisoners. They in turn are sharing Christ with their families both in words and by their reformed lives. They also gave testimony to the fact that because of lives being transformed by the gospel in Angola Prison a missionary movement was actually occuring there. Believers were requesting transfers to other prisons so they could share the gospel there.

This book deals with that transformation that occurred in one of America’s bloodiest prisons. Located in Louisiana, Angola was infamous for the type of criminal housed there and for the poor treatment they received from the staff. It predominately houses murderers with life sentences and those who are on death row. This prison has been literally transformed in large part by a believing warden who realizes the need for heart change not just behavior change. As a believer, he not only recognizes that radical change is possible, but he also believes that God has a plan and a purpose for those he calls (even if they are not free men).

There are some things in the book that might set off your TMC sensor if you received one when you graduated from that college :), but it is very thought-provoking. It makes you think with compassion and it makes you think about convicts as fallen, lost people who God can use to advance His Kingdom. Some of these men who become believers at Angola have received a college degree in theology and are now shepherding large flocks in the prison. They really aren’t so different from you and me. The seed of every sin is within me. I am proud, I hate, and but for the grace of God, I may have committed murder. Because of the grace of God, those who have believed in Angola and I both can stand before God as judge.

It also makes you think about the death penalty, repentant convicts, and consequences for actions. I believe in the death penalty, but it is a very sobering thing to think about being the warden holding the hand of a good, older inmate and brother in Christ as he receives lethal injection. The first lethal injection the warden attended was very sobering and eye-opening for him. He had no contact with the sentenced criminal except to explain the procedure. That night after the execution as he drove home he realized he had done nothing to prepare the man’s soul.

I also believe that there are consequences for actions that extend beyond repentance, but the book does make you ask the question, is prison the best place for 70-80-year-old men who are frail and not predators. Is that the best use of taxpayers money? Many of the men were incarcerated in their early 20’s and will spend the rest of their lives there. That is a long time. They dream of being freed one day.

Here are a few quotes from the book:

One inmate at Angola stated, “I’m praying my desire to serve God would exceed my desire to get out” (166).

The following quote shows the warden’s conviction and resolve, “God is going to live in this place [speaking of Angola prison].

“My legacy isn’t bricks and motor,” said Warden Cain, “It’s what’s in the hearts of men at Angola” (180). This book is a good reminder that all of us are called in our vocations to glorify God and serve Him.

“It is a legacy of men whose souls, though behind bars, are free” (180).


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