He was not even sure of whom he came to see. Whoever that was, he had thought it wise to carry along some toiletries and food. By his calendar, he should be visiting the inmates in the forth cell upstairs. Yet his heart sailed towards the dungeons and his body could only tag along.
Not intending to abuse he evangelism license, he greeted the warders and signed in as usual. Just then, a constable and a prison sergeant dragged a tortured and helpless youth in his own blood down into the dim darkness of the partly underground structure. Beyond blood, bruise and blights, he had seen in that youth a dire need for something he could not define. Now, all the soul-winner wanted was an audience with that poor fellow.
A warm chat with the young man’s captors bought both information and direction till the evangelist was alone with the prisoner. Puzzled at first, he studied the youth in the sparse light that struggled to beat the dark. Then he came closer, made his Bible visible enough and undid his package. In a place where salt would pass for iodine and spirit, dressing the inmate’s wounds was nothing difficult.
From tending to sharing, the evangelist listened prayerfully to the thoughts spilt out to his hearing. He gathered that the inmate was broken and bitter. To the inmate, God was any thing but caring and in his estimate, if God was that powerful, his power should not have let this three-years-awaiting-trial humiliation befall him—not in his innocent guilt. As such the inmate had reached a quiet conclusion that God was cruel.
Prompted in honest concern, the evangelist started a story once-upon-a-time…
“It was on a Wednesday morning of August 2nd, 1922 that Alexander Graham Bell lay under the bitter scourge of pernicious anemia. With each passing second he could only stare at his deaf wife while his 75 years of life inched away. She fingered a question; but he only traced back a last answer and slumped into oblivion—very dead.
“Later, all phones in the United States went dead in his honor. Several callers were caused to hold calls that never reached their receivers; and that day, the federation understood what it meant to communicate but not be heard.
“Inventions upon inventions, all Graham Bell had fought so hard to break was the barrier between him and his wife. Quite alright, he had stumbled on the telephone invention; yet, what was a call that could not be answered by his wife? In pain he had retired to a quiet life in Canada, concluding that the only way to talk to a deaf caller is to cure that caller of his/her deafness. There he lived in the loving frustration of his wife's incapacity to hear his voice; not once, not ever, and not even on his death bed although she was there.
“Going through their study at Beinn Bhreagh Lodge, his wife regretted not hearing her husband recite their marriage creed, nor say this last promise he made not to leave her. It was not that he wasn't speaking; it was only that she couldn't hear him…
“Only if she had not been deaf…”
The story had finished, but not its essence. The evangelist only paused and scored the countenance of his one-man audience. In the inmate’s face was a slight appreciation. The message began to sink. On that note, the evangelist continued.
“Just like Graham’s telephone model, prayer is our telephone. As a two-way channel, it can hardly link us with God if we are deaf. Probably we allow our deafness to breach this link, and leave God to do the dialing alone. It’s not that God’s hands have been short. No! We're just a phone call from heaven provided our sins, doubts and guilt do not deafen us. Maybe you have been too occupied to hear God call you.”
By the time the counsel had come, the prisoner was in contemplation to retrace his steps. He did… The words had been fruitful; and the day, victorious.
Subsequent visits by that same evangelist had helped the inmate hang onto prayer as a lifeline. And within a month he had received a ‘nolle prosequi’ from his prosecutors in court, and the Governor’s prerogative of mercy had followed suit.
The battle was over. As he walked off the prison yard freely, he realized that the 3 years he spent there was all because he had been that deaf caller!
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