May 27th 2009

The Poop Scoop

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Romans 8:28N (KJV)

We’ve all had it happen. We are minding our own business when one of our feathered friends decides to mind its own business, and squirts it on us from a great height. Annoying and disgusting, and hardly an occasion to glorify God. Unless you are Sam Howard.

Sam has been incarcerated on Death Row in a prison in Nevada for over 20 years. In that time he has been transformed from being the most violent inmate of the state’s prison system, with a nick name of ‘Nitro’, to a gentle, humble, God-fearing Christian.

Sam is a member of our church, and we have been friends for many years.

Life for Death Row prisoners is very strictly regimented. For 23 out of 24 hours a day, they are locked up in cells about the size of your bathroom. Sam uses this time to pray, study, and keep up a lively correspondence with people all over the world. For one hour a day he is allowed to exercise outside in a small, totally enclosed wire cage. When he is taken to the exercise area he must, according to the regulations, be manacled with leg irons and wrist restraints. These are removed once he is locked inside the exercise cage.

One day recently, his arrival in the cage coincided with a constipated local bird being suddenly healed. The result hit Sam fair and square on the head. And there he was, his wrists chained to his side, unable to reach to wipe the mess off. I don’t know what the guards thought would happen next from this once so violent man. Sam just laughed. Everyone joined in the laughter – a moment of shared humor and joy in that bleak, forbidding place.

Think about that the next time you are in a situation where most people would curse, flare up in anger and act in a threatening way. You just never know when and where you will have the opportunity to show that you march to the tune of a different drum.

And please pray for Sam. There seem to be some serious irregularities in his original trial, and it looks like it may come up for review soon. Sam is not pre-occupied with regaining his freedom. As he puts it, ‘All the major decisions and questions of my life were resolved when I was baptized.’ But obviously, if a change of circumstances can happen, he would prefer it.

We know that in this life we must suffer many things, but that we still have true freedom in Christ. The freedom to follow you in our daily lives, whatever our circumstances. Bless Sam for his Christian example and bless his inmates and guards, through him, by their exposure to You living in him.

Study by John Halford

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