Former Satan's Disciple street gang member Johnny White continues his story of life behind bars and his advice to his new cell mate:
"The sad thing is Smoke, even faced with the truth and looking at the rest of my life in prison, I still came to the joint a hundred percent Devil's Click. I was the young and dumb, thinking of the gang bangers as my family. Eventually, I saw how they forgot me. That's good cause I saw the truth."
"You ain't about to tell me God came to you and showed you the truth," said Smoke sarcastically.
"I didn't have a vision or a dream. In fact it came from an old celli, Pistol Pete, who was still deeply involved with his mob. He ran down the lies. Showed me what they were. Pointed out that my real family has stuck by my side all the years. He helped me see that even though they didn't know how to show love through words, their actions showed it even after all I had done to ruin my life.
"Old Pete helped me get back on the right track with the Word of God. He gave me a Bible and pointed to a good starting place. This was the beginning of a new life filled with the true love that only God can give."
Smoke held up a hand. "Hold on. You're saying this guy was still deeply involved in his gang? I don't believe it Mr. Ellis. He wasn't living no truth."
"I kept asking myself the same thing. If he knew the gang was a pack of lies, how come he was telling me about the truth in God's word? But I also thought, here's a man who's risking his life to tell me these things. So listened. He said his Bible was better off in my hands because he was old and dumb, but that I had a chance not to become what he was.
"His words lit a fire in me. I read those first two verses he showed me and knew I had choices to make that still mattered. It was the beginning of being truly loved, Smoke. Well, that's it. I'm done for now."
Smoke's skeptical eyes had become curious. "Wait, that's it? You ain't even to to tell me what those two Bible verses are?"
Ellis opened a box and handed the youth a worn Bible.
"That ragged book is the same Bible old Pistol Pete gave to me. The one that changed my life on the inside where it matters."
"You're really giving this to me? I don't know what to say."
"Don't say anything. Just read. Start here at John 3:16: For God so loved you that he gave his one and only Son sot that you can have everlasting life instead of eternal misery. The second verse is Psalm 34:19. Many are the afflictions of a righteous man, but the Lord delivers him out of them all."
Smoke asked, "What's that mean?"
"It means we can have lots of trouble, but the Lord comes to our rescue."
Smoke glanced up and said,"Chow time. Soy burgers tonight. Let's go."
EIGHT YEARS LATER:
"Ellis, you got mail," the guard announced.
Ellis answered, "I thought I had another new celli again. Wonder who wrote me?" He opened the letter and read:
Dear Mr. Ellis, You may not remember me.You used to call me Smoke, or Shorty. We was cellis for about four months. You told me the truth about gang life and helped me see those lies I had been trying to live. You gave me a Bible and pointed out two verses that started me thinking.
I want you to know I've been out of prison for three years, married my daughter's mom, and we just had our second child. We named him Ellis.
Life has been a little rocky at times, but full of love. I walked away from the Alley Boys and gave my life to God. I am now a youth minister. When I'm on the streets, I pass out the words you shared with me about God's love being so far beyond human love.
I have also sent back the ragged Bible you gave me. Maybe another celli will need it some day. And you will have it to show him the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Ellis folded the letter and smiled. He knew he had made the choice that mattered. It mattered in his inner life. It mattered in Smoke's life and in his family's also. About that time, the guard arrived.
"You got a new Celli now Ellis. He's young and dumb. Maybe you can give him a few pointers."
Ellis placed the ragged Bible on his box.