‘I got lucky and lived, and not long afterward I met an inmate, a career criminal who would never be eligible for parole, and he was the gentlest, sweetest, happiest person I’d ever talked to. Had no worries, every day was beautiful, life was grand, and this from a man who’d spent fifteen years in max security. Through a prison ministry, he’d been exposed to the gospel of Christ, and he became a believer. He said he was praying for me, as he prayed for a lot of the bad guys in prison. He invited me to a Bible study one night, and I listened to other inmates tell their stories and praise God for his forgiveness and love and strength and promise of eternal salvation. Imagine, a bunch of of hardened criminals locked away in a rotten prison singing songs of praise to their Lord. Pretty powerful stuff, and I needed some of it. I needed forgiveness, because there was lots of sins in my past. I needed peace, because I’d been at war my entire life. I needed love, because I hated everybody. I needed strength, because deep inside I knew how weak I was. I needed happiness, because I’d been miserable for so long. So we prayed together, me and those bad boys who were like little lambs, and I confessed to God that I was a sinner, and that I wanted salvation through Jesus Christ. My life changed in an instant, Baxter, a change so overwhelming I still can’t believe it. The Holy Spirit entered my soul, and the old Manny Lucera died. A new one was born, one whose past was forgiven and his eternity secured’.
No, not an excerpt from Alpha News from their Prison Ministry. It’s an excerpt from John Grisham’s latest novel, The Associate. I love his non-demanding page turning escapism. But I love it that every now and again he slips in something like this. Something out of the ordinary. Something out of place in a legal thriller. Something altogether wonderful.