Have you prayed for something for so long, with no answer, that you’ve begun to doubt that it’ll ever happen? You might even think it’s impossible.My husband and I, along with an army of people from our former church in California, have had such an ongoing request. Last night, we received news so wonderful that I can hardly believe it’s true. Our friend, who I’ve renamed Chester for his protection, is being paroled. He will be set free!Chester has served 29 years in California prisons for three robberies committed as a young man. He has spent his entire adult life behind bars. His crimes did not involve violence. He broke the law, for sure, and he needed to be held responsible. He stole a grand total of $116, swiping two $20 bills from an open cash register for his third strike crime. But 29 years?
Steve met with Chester often at San Quentin, and I got to know him at volunteer events. We both have been moved by his story. In prison, he was introduced to Jesus Christ and his life changed dramatically. Through years of disappointments and abuse, Chester has continually praised God, believing that he is free on the inside and that God is in control of his situation, even though he physically remained in bondage.
I have blogged about him several times in the past, and I even wrote my research paper for Rhetoric class on the Three Strikes Reform Law, using Chester as one of many examples. As a matter of fact, Chester’s story helped get the reform law passed, six years ago, but he continued to sit behind bars as others were released.
What kept him going? He had a purpose in life. He helped bring about change, and restore the law to its intended result: to keep violent criminals off the streets. Ultimately, he trusted in God’s goodness, believing that He is bigger than the judicial process.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Genesis 50:2).
In the process of my research, I discovered work being done by law students and professors at Stanford Law to get some of the nonviolent three-strikers, like Chester, released, people whose punishment far exceeded their crimes. We got Chester connected with them. I’d like to think that helped, but that was almost three years ago.
Finally, soon, he will be set free! We rejoice with our brother.
Our faith in God, that He can answer even impossible prayers, has just grown a bit. I’ve been reminded that nothing is impossible with God.
Such a moving story. I pray that Chester will be released
soon and continue his witness to our Lord.
Thanks, Pat. Hard to imagine what life will be like for him out on the outside, after 24 years. I’m sure it’ll be challenging.
Love this story of Chester’s faith, despite hardship. I pray he is set free both within and without.
Isn’t it amazing how hardship can actually deepen our faith? Chester is already free within, and soon it’ll also be without.
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