Chester, a man who lives down the road from me, is deeply in need of prayer from brothers and sisters in Christ this week. He is despairing of life and has even entertained thoughts of taking his life. Chester lives inside San Quentin State Prison, and his name is not really Chester. He has been in prison for 16 years, serving a 50-year-to-life sentence. This last theft was the third strike of a three-strike law. All of Chester’s crimes have been robberies, with the combined total that he stole being less than $500. No, that’s not a typo. He will probably serve more than 30 years for stealing petty cash and car stereos. Chester has given his life to Christ and wants a chance to prove that he is a new man, transformed by Jesus.
When he was incarcerated, his ex-wife forbade Chester, a convict, to ever communicate with his baby daughter. Instead, Chester filled journal after journal with love letters to the daughter he doesn’t know, lessons he wants to teach her about following Jesus and not his own bad choices. He mailed these books to friends for safekeeping. A few months ago, those friends went to a restaurant in a nearby town and recognized the name of their teenage waitress. They asked her questions confirming that she was Chester’s daughter, then asked if she would like to read words that her father penned just for her. She devoured the first volume and wrote to her dad, but her mother will not let her visit him. Her letters have been a healing balm to Chester’s raw heart. But they’ve also caused him to feel afresh what he has missed. That’s why he is especially down this Christmas season. Would you please take a moment and pray that God would wrap His arms of love tightly around Chester and give him hope and strength to not give up? He needs to experience God’s tender presence tonight and your prayers will help.