Tuesday, March 17, 2020 -
Dear Friends and Prayer Warriors:
I am not sure what you last received from me, or what I told you, so forgive me if some of this repetitious.
Most recently, this past Friday, the federal government shut down all visitations in federal prisons for 30 days because of the coronavirus. Then on Saturday, we went on total unit lockdown with the exception of going to meals, which they are doing unit by unit, cleaning everything thoroughly between units. Everything else has been shut down – the chapel, gym, library, education, law library, and the rec yard. Although we were able to go outside for 30 minutes last night, which I took advantage of.
Losing visitation was terrible for me as I haven’t seen Kathie now for more than two weeks, and have to wait another 28 more days till the next visit unless visitation is further suspended. Kathie did not come last week because of my mother’s funeral in Tennessee, which I was not allowed to attend. My mother died very suddenly on February 24 of pneumonia.
But, on the very same day that everything was shut down, my heart was blessed by the amazing coming to Christ of the one man in our unit I would have least expected. I knew him little, and only remember speaking to him once or maybe twice for less than a minute, until he came to speak to me Saturday night about a revelation he had while he was in the SHU, where he got locked up two months ago for getting high. The man was known as “our resident junkie” and had just been released from the SHU. It turns out he had been going from person to person in our unit, explaining the “revelation” he had, that the secret of not coming back to prison was to never again break a law or do anything wrong. I told him nobody can be perfect, so I don’t believe that would work. He asked me, “Well then, what’s the answer?” I simply said, “Jesus Christ.” He had to get up and leave because it was count time, and I told him to come back when he had two hours to go through what the Bible says with me. He then asked, “Well, do you think God was giving me a revelation?” I said, “I think it was the Holy Spirit working on you.” He then shouted out, “The Holy [expletive] Spirit!” I said, “No, just the Holy Spirit.” He then repeated that, word for word.
What I didn’t know is that this man, “W,” has been nettling the leading of the Holy Spirit for years. He went next to a Mexican-American brother who came to the Lord in prison three years ago, who he ended up asking, “Do you know Philip? Zodhiates? He told me it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me.” The other man said yes, then asked how old he was, and “W” replied thirty-seven. “V” told him very excitedly, “Well, that’s how old I was when the Holy Spirit started dealing with me! You should come to our Spanish-English chapel service tomorrow.” “W” went back to his cell totally convicted that indeed it was the Holy Spirit speaking to him. He battled all night long, sleeping an hour and a half at best. The next day at the service he cried the whole time until finally surrendering to God’s call on his life. Much of the time since, he has spent with me, and I have no doubt his conversion is genuine, praise the Lord! I have been spending much time with him.
On the legal side, it is mostly good news, and I am believing in faith my sentence will be vacated. However, instead of us getting a ruling from Judge Arcara in March, he issued another order to my attorneys with a whole new set of questions, which is highly unusual. He gave them until March 4 to respond, which they did, providing a very weak defense of their ineptness. The judge has given the government until March 27 to send in their final response to my request to vacate and has given me a deadline of April 17 to respond to the attorneys and the government.
The problem now, since we are under unit lockdown, is that I have no access to my legal aid, who I would meet in the law library, or a typewriter. I believe we can work it out via email and the postal mail, but just in case, I will file a request to extend the deadline.
With the civil case, the federal judge in Vermont delayed my deadline to acquire a new lawyer until April 15, but I will also request a delay for that.
I do not really desire to spend any more time in this prison, so I do not want to delay the criminal matter any longer. I know there maybe work for me here yet, just when I thought it was over. “W” is telling everyone what has happened to him, and others are seeing the difference. I am praying revival will result, and I know I must be willing to stay a little longer id that is all part of God’s plan.
Thank you for continuing to pray, and for the notes and letters of sympathy and encouragement.
In His Service,
Philip (Psalm 91)