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In “The Hole”




by As told to Benjamin Baker

Drugs. Prison. God. These three words say it all.

 Looking for a way to make money when I was young, I turned to selling drugs. I’d heard that you could make big money in a short time, so I decided to try it. A lot of movies and songs exaggerate the benefits of a life of crime, but I did make a lot of money selling drugs. In fact the phrase, “hand over fist,” is appropriate.

However, God kept telling me to quit. I grew up a Seventh-day Adventist, and my mother and aunt always prayed for me. When I saw Bible workers parked on the street, I felt convicted that I should be doing what they were doing, instead of poisoning the community. I’ll quit soon, I told myself. I just have to make a little more money…
Then I got caught. From there events moved faster than making fast money. I realized how wrong I’d been all along, and I began praying to God for deliverance from a jail sentence. But since I did the crime, I had to do the time. I got sentenced to three to fifteen years in prison, and I had to serve five years.
People never believe prisoners are really converted. Before I entered prison, my friends and family told me, “You’ve got religion because you’re going to prison.” Then, in prison my cell mates and guards told me, “You’ve got religion because you’re in prison.” When I got out of prison, people told me, “You’ve got religion because you’ve been in prison.” I really had given my heart to Jesus, though.
By the time I was two years into my five-year sentence, I’d been transferred to three different prisons. By then God had given me the opportunities to do a lot of witnessing and to  give scores of prisoners Bible studies. The Lord really blessed my efforts.
In my third prison home things really started happening. Out of a prison population of thousands I found five Adventists, and I became close friends with one of them. He and I began giving Bible studies there and working in conjunction with the Adventist Prison Ministries team that came every week. Some prisoners expressed genuine interest in giving their hearts to Christ.
Whenever souls are about to be won for God, the devil gets busy. That’s no exception in prison. Out of nowhere—or what I thought was nowhere—the prison chaplain announced that the Adventist Prison Ministries team was banned from our prison.
In prison there’s something called an “inner-institutional letter” that prisoners can write to the prison administration to petition for something. My Adventist friend wrote to the warden, asking him to allow the Adventist Prison Ministries team to continue to come to our prison. The warden responded by setting up a meeting with my friend and the prison chaplain. My friend begged me to come with him to the meeting with the chaplain, so I reluctantly did.
Immediately the chaplain acted very hostile toward us. She asked in a raised voice, “Why are you questioning me?” Then she jumped up and began screaming at my friend and demanded, “Both of you leave!” as she pushed passed me and stormed out of the office.
The next thing we knew, guards appeared and handcuffed my friend and me. They pushed us through the prison, across the prison yard, and into a barracks-like building. We both knew we were going to The Hole. The guards separated us, and as the door to my hole shut with a loud and final boom, I felt all alone. I could see the sun going down through the sliver of a window. At that moment it felt as though God had forsaken me.
Things got worse. While I was in that tiny dark cell, I got served divorce papers from my wife, which almost pushed me over the edge. What’s more, it was freezing cold, and I felt malnourished from the inadequate food the guards pushed underneath my door. I had three more long years to serve, and I knew that episodes like this one could lengthen my time.
My family petitioned the warden, and he told them that I was the leader of a recent prison riot. That news scared my family. They could hardly believe that was true, but apparently he persuasively filled their minds with doubts. During my time in The Hole, the guards let me out one time to see my family. When my mother saw me in full shackles, she burst into tears.
When almost all hope was gone and I thought things couldn’t get any worse, God gave me a dream. In it He revealed that I would one day be a minister, and He would use me to win many souls for His kingdom. I was being persecuted now, but I would spend eternity with Him. I could scarcely believe it, and I must admit I scoffed a bit. But after that dream, I never felt weak or scared again. I knew God was with me.
When I made it out of The Hole and back into my regular prison cell, I found out that my friend had been writing the prison chaplain letters, questioning her authority. At our meeting she’d actually lashed out at him, and I just got caught in the crossfire. She falsely claimed that I had pushed her during the meeting and that landed me in The Hole for 24 days.
Since then God has used me to bring many prisoners to Him. I’m out of prison now, and I’m studying for the ministry at Southern Adventist  University.
I want to encourage you that when you’re at your wit’s end, remember my time in The Hole. However desperate your situation, God is with you (Hebrews 13:5), and He will use you mightily for His cause if you remain faithful to Him (James 1:12).
 
This testimony belongs to a friend of Benjamin Baker’s who’s studying theology in Collegedale, Tennessee.




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