Thursday, March 5, 2020 -
Today at 9 am marked 15 months since I walked through the front door of Ashland Federal Correctional Institution. It was not an easy day for me, but I now look in hindsight with clearer perspective. There have been a handful of lifelines that have been thrown to me, for which I am grateful and praise the Lord for.
First and foremost is God’s Word, which for most of the first 24 hours I did not have access to, making me understand how indispensable it is for us believers. That 24 hours was probably the hardest 24 hours of my life, having been placed in the SHU, the prison within the prison, where they lock up those who require disciapline. I had no idea at the time it wouldn’t be my permanent home for the next 36 months. To tell the truth, I had little idea what to expect, which made the experience all the more difficult. But not having access to God’s Word when I needed it most was torment. At the time, I even had a hard time recalling Scriptures I’d memorized. Six days later, the Bible I’d mailed myself from home arrived, and I was thrilled! Not having it made me realize how essential it is!
The next most important lifeline was the love and intense support from the most wonderful woman in the world, my wife Kathie. And all of our children we raised from infancy have been enormously supportive in ways which I am grateful for and often praise God for. In addition to having to look after the needs of their mother, they have made certain that nearly every week she was able to make the 300-mile trek to Kentucky to visit me, a morale booster to me indescribable by words. William especially, our oldest, has been a jewel, handling legal issues, stepping into my shoes at Response Unlimited, handling the business and much of the personal finances, taking care of the homefront, and even doing our complicated taxes and a tax audit for us.
And then there are the amazing letters and notes I still receive from all over, although far less frequent than a year ago, that often bring tears to my eyes and a great encouragement to my heart. Here’s a sampling of what I received just today:
From Oklahoma: “Philip, now that you have had a dose of bondage, you may have come to the same conclusion as I have. NOTHING else is as important as FREEDOM. That embodies the physical, spiritual, and monetary – all of which you enjoyed big-time in times past. My brother and I pray that all of it shall be restored to you…All the good you have done can never be diminished in times of eternity.”
From the Philippines: “Please know that we are praying here on this side of the planet. We are praying earnestly that God will touch the heart of Judge Arcara and that he will decide to vacate your sentence, that you will be released soon. God is the God of the impossible. What is impossible to us is always possible to Him. So, let us continue to trust in Him. In His time and as we do delight in Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). We love you in the Lord. You and Sister Kathie are always in our hearts and prayers. God bless you and keep you and us, till we meet again, in His perfect time.”
From Staunton, Virginia: “We are sorry to hear of your mother’s passing and that you had not been able to see her for the past 17 months…May the presence and comfort of the Holy Spirit be very clear to you at this time. We pray daily for you and for Kathie for God’s grace and wisdom to abound you – especially in your interactions with others – and that His peace will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. We pray, too, for all the circumstances of your situation to work together for God’s glory! ‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you peace’ (Numbers 6:24-26).”
And from Afton, Virginia: “I pray that you will be released soon. May the Lord continue to give you His peace, and may you have an overwhelming sense of this great love for you. I’m praying that He will give you all you need and that Kathie, too, will be filled with every good thing, and all her needs and the needs of your family, be met. May this peace overflow in you.”
Thank you each one of you!