Last Friday afternoon, my wife (Lead Chaplain Amy Grupp) and I went to the medical wing in the jail, often the most intense place inside the jail (especially intense spiritually). I talked to a young fellow right when I walked in. He was just standing near the glass door, looking straight at the ground, motionless. I walked up to him.

“Hey brother!” I said.

No movement. No response. I waited a few seconds.

“Brother, is there anything we can talk about? Anything on your heart that you need to let out?” I said.

No response. I waited a few more seconds.

“Maybe I can help you brother,” I continued.

Nothing. I waited a bit longer. And then his mouth moved slightly: nothing moved but his mouth. He started whispering something, without taking his gaze off the same spot on the floor in his cell. The whispering was quiet. I thought the inmate was talking to me.

I still could not hear him.

“Brother, I am so sorry, I still can’t hear you.”

There was noise in the medical wing. He kept whispering. I talked to him again through the crack in the thick and strong door.

“Brother, I still can’t hear you.”

This went on for a bit, back and forth, with this inmate motionless and staring at the floor.

Finally, starting to get desperate, I prayed.

“LORD Jesus, help me hear this fellow, amid all the noise of this wing. Please GOD, shut out the rest of the noise from my mind, so I can hear this brother who needs help.”

I closed my eyes and prayer that prayer in my mind, feeling GOD’s presence.

And then I could hear him!!

“Jesus, protect my wife and children…” I heard.

“Wow,” I thought to myself.

He was praying. I heard more.

“Jesus, I need you. You are my GOD. Please be with me now,” I heard. “Jesus, protect my wife; they are so far away from me.”

I listened to the remainder of his prayers, and then I said a prayer through the crack in the door. I prayed for us both to be crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20). I could not help but weep in joy, feeling so close to the LORD!

Then I put a brand new Bible at the base of his door for the guards to give him, and I moved on to talk to other inmates.


Lead Chaplain, Founder, Kalamazoo Jail Ministry