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The Prison Escape
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The Gideon’s were responsible for the Sunday afternoon service at the Crow Wing County Jail. They contacted Dave and asked if he would like to take one of the afternoon services. He would lead music and preach.
It was a different set up; Dave couldn’t see the inmates from where he was standing in the entry level room. Dave was told, “Just preach loud enough and they will hear you while locked in their cells.” That was easy for Dave. Away Dave went with the music and his sermon, and as he closed he spoke, “If any of you heard what I said, and you want to accept Jesus as your Savior, repeat the prayer after me.” Dave prayed the sinner’s prayer without knowing if anyone had heard, let alone responded to his challenge.
A letter arrived on Wednesday. In the letter one of the prisoners wrote, “I heard you on Sunday and I did what you told me to do; I asked Jesus to save me.” Dave went to visit him the next time there was visitation at the jail. The young man was named Evans and he had been put in jail for stealing something small from a store.
Every time Dave visited Evans, he was always receptive and seemed to have a hunger for his new found faith. Dave was excited to bring this young convert along in his faith.
Dave's family had been down to Minneapolis singing at an event on Saturday; on their way home they drove past the prison on Highway 10. “On the other side of that wall is where my friend Evan is in jail.” Dave told the girls. “He is the one we have been praying for and the one that accepted Jesus. Isn’t God Good?”
When his family got back to Brainerd, they had supper at Ken and Jen Wagner’s house. The kids were tired after an enjoyable evening of fun and fellowship, but Ken said, “Why don’t you stay and watch the news Dave before you head home?” Dave loved the news, so he was more than willing to watch.
The first news reported was an alert: Prison break from the prison farm near St Cloud. Three prisoners are unaccounted for; one of the three was Dave’s friend, Evans. “My emotions were drained from me. Just seven hours earlier I had said, ‘I really don’t have the time to visit with my friend today.' I will come again another day.”
Dave was crushed. The story soon came out that two of the older men were the ring leaders of this escape; Evans was forced to come along because he knew what they were planning. The two were captured within the day, but a day a two later Evan’s body was found floating in the Mississippi River. Nobody ever knew what had happened.
Dave had Evans funeral, but the family was distant and wanted nothing to do with the church or Dave’s religion. Dave recounts, “It took me years to get over Evan’s death. I could have visited him that day as we drove by on Highway 10. Perhaps something I could have said would have helped him during the escape.”
Dave let the memory of this event etch itself deep into his mind and heart; whenever there was an opportunity to minister to someone in need; regardless of how busy Dave was, he dropped his chores and took care of eternal business.
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