Russell Barrie                      California     

Chino State Prison is where I volunteered for church with the inmates for 20 years. Then I worked there for Plant Operations as a Maintenance Mechanic.  The volunteer and the employment are two different worlds, with regards to the inmates. As a volunteer I share my faith and try to introduce inmates to Jesus.  As an employee, one would her Jesus' name used in vain.  A state stand on that would be,
"My religion is my privacy and I would not want for you to ask me again."  So, I became an underground church.

I was assigned to an "in house" shop in the hospital where I would work with two inmates.  Over ten years, I worked with dozens of inmates.  One of those inmates was Jeremiah.  He like to be called Miah.  He and I are under the hospital, on the hospital, outside the hospital and, of course, in the hospital. We are not ever to become "over familiar," or any appearance of.  When you are in cramped spaces and sweat together and rely on each other, you get familiar.  We now have something in common, we work together.  With that, I would test Miah with where he stands on spiritual issues.  From me, he knew that Jesus loved him.

Miah was a welder in the free world and he made a good living until his alcohol overcame him.  He lost his job and in a short time he became homeless. Not sure what brought him to prison, but now he was getting three squares and bedding and a job with me. He was insecure with being seen in public, which is strange, he thought he was invisible. The public tries not to notice the homeless and he knew it.  After a while he got used to working with me. The employees and free staff would notice him as a worker for the hospital.  He would walk ahead and me and I would be close behind him.  The people would see me and say "hi" to me, but because he was in front, he thought they were saying "hi" to him.  I let him enjoy this respect he felt he was getting.  He was gaining confidence with people.  He asked, "Is this how it feels when I know that Jesus loves me?  I responded, "Yes, and it is not so much the feeling as it is in the Knowing that Jesus loves you."  In Jesus' Name.