In today’s mail I received a letter from an old friend. I learned that he is very ill with many health issues and is likely not being given the best health care. I also learned that I alone am the only friend who communicates with him.
After being abandoned by his mother when he was just a toddler, Charlie was placed in a foster home in Asheville, North Carolina and grew up there along with the dozens of other children who would come and go over the years. I met Charlie when we were teens and we were very good friends. We were not unlike most boys, we liked fast cars, adventure, and girls. But we were also Christians. We played together, prayed together, made mistakes together, and together, more than once, we repented and kept following Jesus as best we knew how in our immaturity as young men, and as Christians. Over the years Charlie made some very unwise choices, the beginning of a downward spiral that has resulted in him being incarcerated now for well over 30 years. Experimenting with alcohol and drugs was the beginning of a story of hopelessness that has been repeated in the United States tens of thousands of times. What a tragic story for a handsome, very bright young man full of potential, only to end, perhaps soon, dying alone in a prison hospital or in his cell.
The sad truth is, that Charlie, like millions of prisoners, have been forgotten. With the exception of his daughter, all of his family and friends, including Christians, have long ago stopped writing. So far as they are concerned Charlie might as well be dead. But he is not dead and he is still experiencing all of the emotional pain of one who has lost everything except his faith in Christ.
For all of these years behind bars he has not had one infraction, not one “write up” for bad behaviour. A model prisoner in every sense of the word. He is respected by inmates and prison personel alike because of his care for others, his disarming smile, and his consistant life as a godly man. I will not mention anything about his quilt or innocence or what crime he was convicted of. I can see no good that would come of that. The bottom line is, he was convicted, right or wrong, and will die in prison sooner or later.
Would you be willing to write a letter to Charlie? Just a few lines of encouragement, a poem shared, a funny story, or something that might inspire hope would be wonderful. I will not post his name and address here because of spammers and nutty buddies. If you are willing to write to this good man please let me know and I’ll pass along his contact info privately.
I am not trying to “guilt” you into writing to Charlie, but the Lord Jesus himself said this. “I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” And, in Hebrews the author wrote “Remember those who are in prison”. Jesus said “When you have done it to the least of these you have done it unto me”.
For the downcast,