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True love can also come from behind the prison walls

File photo: Jail

In 2017 the Evangelical group of our church visited Saltpond municipal hospital to share the word of God with those on admission and also donate some items to them.

While at one of the ward praying, I spotted a gentleman praying diligently with tears streaming down his eyes.
Even when we were singing praises, this man had his eyes shut and kept murmuring his prayers. I looked at him very well and realized one of his legs was cuffed to the bed.

I said in my head, “Why would they do that to him or he’s not mentally stable?” When the prayer session came to an end, I saw a prison warden delivering food to him. That was when I realized he was a prisoner on admission.

After the prayers, I walked up to his bed and shared the word of God with him, I didn’t ask why his leg was cuffed and I didn’t ask about his sins.

We just talked about the word and his depth of the word surprised me.

After everything, I asked him, “Have you been reading your bible?” He said, “Yes I have been doing that every day and I enjoy it when the churches visit the prison to share the word with us.”

I was talking to him but I was asking myself a lot of questions; “What would make an innocent-looking man like this end up in prison? What is his crime?”

Then he said something like, “Very soon I’ll be released from prison and I’ve promised God that when I come out, I’ll dedicate the rest of my life to his service.” I asked him, “How long have you been in for and how many years left to spend in the prisons?” He answered, “I’ve been in for a year already.

Next year by this time, I would be out.” His exuberance and excitement in God’s work got me interested in him. I asked his name and he said, Smith. I asked where he was being kept and he also asked, “Would you come here to share the word with us?” I said, “Yes and when we come, I will look for you.”

Two months later, I’d forgotten about Smith and was going on with my life when one night I had a dream about him. In the dream, both of us were talking and laughing about something.

He had a Bible under his arm and we were both walking on a road that led to nowhere. I thought about him when I woke up from the dream. “How could I forget about that guy so soon.

The next weekend, I was on my way to Ankaful prisons going to look for him. A prison warden took me through the process and asked me to come the next day. The next day I was there, face to face with him.

He was shocked to see me. He asked, “You came all the way to see me or you came to evangelize with us?” I said, “I came to visit you so we continue the chat we had at the hospital.”

There was this glow in his eyes every time he opened his mouth to talk to me. It was happiness trapped at the depth of his soul. It was like he was having an experience he had long for a very long time.

He said, “The last time someone visited me was in July 2016 when I had done only a month in prison. After that day, everyone forgot about me.” I asked him, “What brought you here?”

He said, “Work. I misappropriated some funds with some colleagues. We thought we could be fast about it but in the end, the audit gave us away. Two of those friends escaped but I wasn’t lucky.

I ended up serving a two-year prison term in hard labour. But it’s not all regret and tears. I’ve met the Lord here and he had increased my strength. Maybe this is where the Lord decided to meet me.”

He had nine months to spend at the prison and within that nine-month, I visited him regularly, sending him food and care.

Within that nine-month, I was able to trace his family and in one of those visits to the prisons, I went there with his mother. You could see the happiness in his eyes when he saw his mother.

I thought he would be angry and ask his mom why they abandoned him but he didn’t even mention that.

He spent the time asking about his siblings, his father, and the girl he was dating when he was free. His mother said, “Deborah? I haven’t heard from her since you were put behind bars.

You were the reason why I could see her and now that you’re no more there, there’s no way I can see her.”

He was very quiet for a while. As if he was missing something. The next time he spoke he said, “May God be praised both in good times and bad in times.”

I was at the entrance the day he was released. He didn’t know I would be there but when he finally stepped out, I was the arms he ran into. “Thank God you’re a free man now.” He said, “I’ve always been free.

My freedom has always been in the Lord.” I didn’t know people can go to prison and come back with such a strong faith in God until I met him.

We got to Accra in the late afternoon. I took him to where I lived and told him, “In case you’re looking for me, this is where I live.” From my place, I took him to the bus station and he boarded a car to Koforidua where his family lives.

One week later, he called me, “I’m so confused in life now. I don’t know where to begin and I don’t know who to ask for help from. From the way I see it, It doesn’t look like my family sees me as part of them.

They look at me in strange ways and talk behind me. I’m getting scared each day.” I told him, “Everything that you see is expected but you don’t have to be wary.

You’re an accountant. You have a strong certificate. Let’s start looking for a job. This is Ghana. You can still have a job.”

A few weeks later, he started attending interviews. He’ll ace the interview until he’s asked what he had been doing for the last two years that wasn’t captured on his CV. He’ll tell them the truth that he was in prison for a wrong he did.

They’ll probe and he’ll tell them how he misappropriated funds and got punished for it. He’ll tell them he is a changed person.

He’ll say he met Christ in prison and he made him a new creature. They will thank him and say, “You’ll hear from us soon.” He’ll go home and never hear from them again.

When he got interviews in Accra, he came to sleep at my place. Sometimes he spent a day or two. One day I told him, “You need to whiten your CV a little. You need to change your story if you want to get a job quickly.

The prison thing isn’t working.” He asked, “What if they find out after giving me the job? It’s better they know now than later. Accounting is about integrity.”

One day he went for an interview and those people looked at what he could do and not what he had already done.

A few days later, they called to give him the job—he had the job in Accra. He had no money to rent a place and had no money to even get new clothes and new shoes to begin again. I offered him my place and gave him some money to buy whatever he wanted.

I had a small place but he proved that he didn’t need a bigger place to thrive. Maybe it was a skill he learned from the prison—the economics of space. He created his own abode at the corner of the hall where he did everything. For ten months he lived with me.

We were called a couple. I was reported to my pastor that I was living with a man I wasn’t married to. The church investigated and found out it was true.

None of my explanations could hold. I lost my position in the church and lost my place with the Evangelicals.

They said I had backslid and as such, the glory of God was far from me. God knows all I did was to share my place with someone who didn’t have any.

Two months ago I sat in the hall with Smith and watched a wedding clip on the TV with him. A man in a black suit walked to the altar with a woman wearing a snow looking wedding gown.

The man said “I do” to the woman while having tears in his eyes. The pastor said, “Lift the veil and see if she’s the woman you intend getting married to.” The man lifted the veil, still with tears in his eyes. The pastor said, “You may now kiss the bride.”

Smith turned to me and said, “If we told the church that this was our first kiss, nobody would have believed us. How can two people live under the same roof for close to a year without kissing?” But that was our story.

That clip we were watching was our wedding video. He was nothing but a good man so when he asked me to marry him, I didn’t think twice about it. We got married and have always been happy building our marriage and serving the Lord in all our ways.

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