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October 25, 2009 / theoldsilly

Letters From the Mission Field – Just When I Needed It Most

Today we have with us again as guest blogger, my brother, Kevin Wilson, continuing his writings from behind bars in the inspirational spiritual journey he documents and shares in his “Letters From the Mission Field” series. Sit back, read, and feel …

Just When I Needed It Most

Kevin 1Today is October 17, 2009. It was exactly one year ago when the comfortable life I had built for myself imploded,  thundering down on me like a midnight hail storm from hell. My life’s journey was radically altered onto a new and frightening course through the dark shadows of the unknown – where fear and sadness have often enveloped me in a thick, black cloud.

My losses have been catastrophic and well documented in my postings here on Free Spirit. My job, career, income, health insurance, house, truck, toys … everything is gone now. To make matters worse, the State of Michigan recently began the process of seizing my IRA, to which I have been contributing for most of my adult life, in order to reimburse them for the cost of my incarceration.

The loss of material wealth has been harsh, but not nearly of the same magnitude as the human loss. Most people who were close to me one year ago are nowhere in my life today. I have faded from their memory like some distant dream. Even Gina, the woman whom I was convinced would never leave my side, especially not during the biggest trial and tribulation of my life, unceremoniously dumped me out of her life without a word of explanation.

But today I am not writing about the losses I have incurred. Rather, this post is about the incredible gains God has brought to my life that have indelibly and permanently changed my life for the better. It is from that perspective that I invite you to share the following powerful experience I recently had.

***

I meandered into the Saturday night worship service here at Boyer Road, Carson City Correctional Facility. I was tired, having just finished a seven hour shift in the hot, sticky dish tank at the chow hall. I was ten minutes late. The praise and worship time was well underway, complete with a rocking inmate praise band.

The music service, as always, was exuberant and free – over 60 inmates, all having experienced catastrophic life losses equal to or greater than mine, were singing praises from their hearts to a God who not only has not forsaken them, but has redeemed and transformed them into men in pursuit of His own heart.

As usual, I took a seat near the back of the room, trying to blend into the crowd as best I could. Although my worship is just as heartfelt and sincere as the others, I am by nature more reserved – I’m more comfortable near the back. There I can worship in my own way, yet still have the experience of watching those whose worship style is more outwardly exciting.

That evening I was not only physically tired, I was spiritually weary as well. You see, my friend, Justin, who came with me here to Carson City from Jackson State Prison (read “God is in Control”), and who had been my constant companion and “divine assignment” for the past five months, had been moved to another facility only three days prior. I had spent many hours sharing my faith with Justin, who doubted the existence of God and the validity of the Bible. Although I believe I was able to open Justin’s mind somewhat to my faith, he left having not accepted the saving grace of Christ Jesus. I was feeling like a failure, concerned I hadn’t done enough, and having feelings of doubt about my own spiritual growth.

Throughout this yearlong spiritual journey God has never manifested Himself to me in an audible voice, nor has He comforted me in times of distress with any warm fuzzy feelings. Time after time He has made His presence known to me by putting me into situations in which He can use me to share His love, mercy and grace with someone He has in His sovereignty caused to cross my path. He reveals Himself by using me to reach someone who needs to hear about Him. It is when He uses me that I know He is near and in control.

But there I was at the Saturday evening worship service, parked in the rear, feeling lonely, worthless, and like I had somehow let God down. Even worse, as he always does, Satan was using the opportunity to pound away at my weakest points (read “Counting the Cost”), and he was winning. Questions filled my mind. Had God been using me over the course of the past year? Had I really been on a life-changing spiritual journey or had I simply dreamed it all up as a defense mechanism to protect my mental well-being from all the horrors I’ve experienced? Maybe Satan was right. I was beyond help. God had forsaken and left me to suffer the consequences of my actions … alone.

I half-heartedly participated in the praise and worship service and then observed with considerable skepticism the healing service that Pastor Darrell conducted afterward. Don’t misunderstand, I believe that God can heal physical afflictions, but in my state of mind I didn’t believe a single alleged healing that took place that night. I chalked it all up to the emotions of those involved. Sadly, I was in no mood to see God’s hand at work.

After the healing service, Pastor Darrell stood up to the podium to begin his message from the Word. Although I have never personally spoken to him, I highly respect Pastor Darrell as a true man of God. His teaching is always grounded solidly in the Word, and the fact that he takes time away from his own church responsibilities and his family to drive all the way from Lansing, Michigan to minister to inmates is indicative of the heart he has for the Lord.

About five minutes into his message, Pastor stopped. He looked directly at me. I froze in attention. He said, “I have a message for you from the Lord. I know you are skeptical, but are you willing to accept it?”

I looked around, certain he must be talking to someone else. After all, I had been doing my best chameleon impression all night, blending seamlessly into my chair. I felt sheepish as I pointed to my chest and said, “Me?”

“Yes, you.” His voice was warm. Comfortable. “The Lord gave me a verse at 12:30 this afternoon and told me that someone at tonight’s service needed to hear it. Until just now I had no idea who it was. It is you. Are you willing to accept it?”

“Uh, well …” I stumbled over my words, still not quite certain what was happening, “… yes – yes, of course.”

Pastor Darrell smiled, nodded and said, “Open your Bible to I Corinthians 15:56 and read it out loud.”

I turned to the scripture. My eyes filled to overflowing as I read …

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

“Brother,” Pastor said, his eyes penetrating into the depths of my heart and soul, “I don’t know your situation, but I do know that the Lord wanted you to hear that verse tonight. Take it and receive it from Him.”

I was stunned. I didn’t hear another word he preached that night. My mind was spinning. I had just heard from the Lord.

***

Yes, God is real, and yes, He is using me to advance His agenda and to bring glory to His name, probably in ways that I will never know about. Not only that, I realize He has also blessed me many times over through the people He has prompted to surround me, support and love me.

My children, Jessica and Kevin Jr., have forgiven me for my failure as their father and have demonstrated a love for me that I certainly do not deserve. Sue, their mother, has been incredible in her unconditional love and support for me, even though I once hurt her terribly.

My mother has been a prayer warrior for me, enlisting the prayers and support of her friends, Joie and Meri, who pray for me and write to me regularly. The Lord blessed me fifty years ago by birthing me into the care of my parents – my father, Frank Wilson, a great man of God and best dad a son could’ve ever had. He’s now deceased, but Dad’s legacy of love and righteousness still lives on. And my mother, Ellen Wilson, is still alive and kicking with the grace of God.

My brothers, Marvin, Daryl, and Dana, although shocked I’m sure at the news of my arrest, have loved and supported me at every turn. As brothers we have never been closer. Marvin, in particular, has been a tremendous blessing to me, challenging me to draw near and cling to God, and encouraging me to write about my experiences.

My cousins and cousins-in-law, Donna, Nancy, Velda Jean and Michael, and Valerie and Scott, have prayed with me, written to me, purchased books and magazines for me, and visited me often. They’ve been like spiritual brothers and sisters.

My aunts and uncles, especially Aunt Clyda and Uncle Bud, have gone out of their way to be like parents to me. Uncle Bud, a minister, has visited me here at Carson City and mentored me spiritually with sharing the Word and prayer. What an incredible extended family God has blessed me with!

My dear friends, Don and Dort, from Marquette, whom I had drifted away from over the past several years, came rushing to my side when I needed them most, praying for me, writing to me, mentoring me and purchasing books for me. They visited me when I was still in the Marquette County Jail and have even made the long (12 hour round trip, minimum, not including visitation time) drive to visit me here in Carson City. They have been true Proverbs 17:17 friends.

And finally, going far and above all that I could ever have asked or imagined, God has brought an amazing woman into my life. Her name is Katrina, and she has loved me and supported me in spite of my checkered past. I am so blessed that the Lord has caused our paths to cross. Yes, she is strikingly attractive on the outside, but more importantly, her inner being radiates with the beauty and love of Christ. Her spiritual strength is, to borrow a term from her meteorological namesake, a “category five.” (smile) What are the odds that a guy like me, flawed and in prison, would meet such a phenomenal woman? Apparently excellent – when you serve the living God!

It is true. My toil in the Lord is not in vain. He is working through me to advance His Kingdom and showering me with blessings as well. Thank you, Pastor Darrell, for that Word from the Lord …

Just when I needed it most.

***

Sterling post, brother Kevin! Hey peeps, show Kevin some love in the comments, and while you’re at it, count your blessings … they are there if you but look and take stock through the eyes of appreciation and gratitude.

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24 Comments

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  1. Crystal Clear Proofing / Oct 25 2009 7:07 am

    As you so aptly put it, Marvin, what a stellar post. So often Kevin’s posts here make me cry – bring tears to my eyes, and this time was no exception. The entire essence of my being warmed while reading the words he so eloquently wrote.

    Kevin, God had indeed blessed you, and YOU in turn have blessed us. Your “work” has not been in vain. You have a gift – from God – to reach out to others and spread His love. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  2. Cactus Annie / Oct 25 2009 8:02 am

    I got all misty eyed reading this one. Bless you, Kevin, as you conintue to grow and learn and share with everyone. Life has wonderful things in store for you, I’m sure – God IS with you and working through you. Also I gotta say – writing well seems to run in your family! 🙂

  3. Ron Berry / Oct 25 2009 8:15 am

    Well written brother. Indeed God does have place for you. You shll survve and come out of this better than you were.

  4. John Standish / Oct 25 2009 8:21 am

    Wow, Kevin. Just wow. I think we can all learn something from this post … we never know what life, what God, has in mind for us, I know sometimes I feel like what’s the point of everything, why isn’t life better, is there really a God, look at all that’s wrong and bad in the world and my life, yadayadayada, then you get a wake up call (like this post), stop – take a REAL look around and realize God IS everywhere and blessing those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us. God bless you, brother!

  5. L. Diane Wolfe / Oct 25 2009 8:45 am

    I can see God so clearly in your life, Kevin.

    You have a greater army of supporters than you could ever imagine, too.

  6. Barbra Kelser / Oct 25 2009 9:30 am

    This is the first of these posts I’ve read, just started following Free Spirit recently … al I can say is WOW! Does EVERYONE in your family write this well, old silly? lol. Seriously, powerful message, and good for you Kevin, staying firm in God’s work and keeping the faith. Now I’m going to have to read some of those other back posts!

  7. Jeannine Gardella / Oct 25 2009 9:38 am

    I truly believe that when we ask God to take control of our lives, He does just that. We may wander around, in and out, etc., but He is always there waiting, and He is never late. He knows when we need encouragement, a spiritual boost, whatever, and His faithfulness is measureless. Doesn’t it just send you to the moon when you get an answer, or this kind of uplifting experience! There is nothing like it. Awesome. Yes, Kevin, and Marvin too, we are blessed to have such a rich spiritual heritage and sometimes we tend to take some of it for granted (speaking for myself here). But God knows all about that too and has a way of humbling us so that we seek His face more deeply.

    May God continue to pour out His richest blessings on you, Kevin, and do the work in you that He has planned.

    • theoldsilly / Oct 25 2009 9:47 am

      Hey cuz- This part that you wrote …

      “sometimes we tend to take some of it for granted (speaking for myself here)”

      No, I think you speak for a LOT of us LOTS of the time. (wink) I know it took me most of my adult life to fully come to know and appreciate the rich spiritual tradition of the family we were born into. And even though we may turn our backs on God, when we stumble and fall in life, God has never turned His back on us, He’s always right there to forgive and pick us back up. Amazing Grace – how sweet the sound!

      • Jeannine Gardella / Oct 25 2009 12:25 pm

        I have to share this: I had an upsetting e-mail the other day, and just sat down and prayed “God, I can’t bear this by myself. I need some help here.” Well, a few hours later I got a phone call from the Kenneth Copeland prayer ministry, thanking me for my support, etc., and then she said “Is there anything I could agree in prayer for you tonight?” I just sort of laughed and said “As a matter of fact there is.” She proceeded to pray the sweetest and most powerful prayer for my concern, after I shared that with her. We both agreed that God had heard my plea earlier. That was one of my “to the moon” experiences and truly reinforced my faith a whole bunch. He truly is listening and cares.

      • Marylee / Oct 25 2009 4:07 pm

        You and Jeannine are both right…we should be so thankful for our rich heritage and the spiritual foundation that we were given. I think back to being a teenager, kicking and screaming cause I did not want attend Wednesday night services, but Dad said “you are going” and gave me the “look”. All I can say now is, THANK YOU DAD! That foundation or rock has seen me through some tough moments….”stuff” that other people may not have survived or wanted to. I am grateful my parents taught me to pray…the greatest gift we can give our children!

  8. ettarose / Oct 25 2009 11:50 am

    What a story. To be open about past mistakes and be open about your love for God is powerful. Your story made me realize how blessed I am. Thank you, for I am humbled.

  9. quirkyloon / Oct 25 2009 12:10 pm

    It’s always a pleasure to read such thoughts that inspire hope and faith in God.

    Thank-you for your courage and willingness to share so much of a very personal journey with us all.

    And, I, too, am a “parked in the rear” worshipper at my church.

    I know everybody by the backs of their heads! Now faces? Well that’s not so easy for me to recognize, but turn around and let me see the back of your head and I’ll recognize you in no time!

    You truly are blessed to have such a huge support system.

    I’m so glad you do.

    I’m glad all of us do…through Jesus.

  10. katrina / Oct 25 2009 12:40 pm

    Kevin,

    I can’t begin to tell you how blessed I KNOW I am. When God said He could/would do immeasurably more than we could even imagine to ask, He had you (and me) in mind. We tend to hold on so very hard to our past that we don’t even begin to ask Him to bless us in the ways He always intended.

    I know my past has been such a dark one that I found myself believing I would never be blessed with happiness. In fact I believed I didn’t deserve it. I suppose none of us do. But thankfully, we serve such a powerful and compassionate God that not only does He forgive our ‘checkered past and flaws’ but He uses them for HIS glory, and still finds the desire and will to bless us beyond our comprehention.

    You are such a blessing to me that I could never hought to ask for. He knows what we need and when we need it … long before we do. Each day I begin with a cup of coffee and a word of thanks that He’d find it in His wisdom, grace, and mercy to bring such an amazing man into my life. I wake with a renewed strength and faith, believing He is in total control and no matter how bad our past, our dull our present (at times), He has amazing plans for ‘our’ future.

    As always, you are in my heart and in my prayers. Is it okay for that group hug and halmark card now??? (smile)

    I love you…

    • theoldsilly / Oct 25 2009 12:47 pm

      Aww, you two … warms my heart, seeing you draw so close together in such an unexpected gift from God sort of way. 🙂

  11. Stanley Berber / Oct 25 2009 1:15 pm

    What a spiritual high it is to follow this series of posts from brother Kevin. At this point, almost NOTHING surprises me, dude! 🙂 But yeah, that moment in the service when God spoke to you through the pastor “just when you needed it most” – powerful, man. Thanks for sharing, and keep on keepin’ on.

  12. Marylee / Oct 25 2009 3:49 pm

    Kevin,

    Your letter gave me goosebumps! It was an inspiration for me today to keep praying, believing, and to never give up. Don’t feel defeated about Justin….you planted the seeds and God is faithful.

    In my moments of despair and sadness, I rememer the words of my very wise sister…”always look up”.

    May God continue to shower you with his love and blessings……….

  13. Marcus Franks / Oct 25 2009 5:00 pm

    I too am relatively new to this Free Spirit blog, and all I can say is, hey Kevin – you got it goin on with the God thang, dude. Seriously. You’re on the right path and never doubt it. I learned a lot about my own doubts and fears and lack of faith today. Thank you, AND Marv – you old silly! 😉

  14. Tracy Haller / Oct 25 2009 5:03 pm

    I want a copy of that book! I cant wait to meet Kevin in person – I personally have been beyond blessed in knowing your family Marvin! I thank God for all of you and the amazing strength and faith that is an example to all of us!

  15. Elizabeth Spann Craig / Oct 25 2009 5:25 pm

    This was such a touching post ….and so rare that a person can turn everything around and make such a success out of past failures. Very inspiring!

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

  16. Free Spirit / Oct 25 2009 6:53 pm

    Kevin, dear brother, I’m not surprised at all by Father’s goodness and provision for you. I hope you continue to be knocked off your feet by His radical and highly targeted love for you!! Godspeed to you!! 🙂

  17. ReformingGeek / Oct 25 2009 10:05 pm

    Great message. Thanks for sharing!

  18. yvonne lewis / Oct 26 2009 6:29 pm

    Good luck Kevin you are truly blessed. Take care.

    Yvonne.

  19. Connie Arnold / Oct 28 2009 3:44 pm

    Thank you for sharing your amazing story, Kevin, and how God is speaking to you and working in your life! You are a blessing to all of us who have met you through Marvin’s blog, and I pray God will continue to bless and lead you in all you do.

  20. Ceil Wilson / Nov 6 2009 11:40 pm

    What a powerful story! As always, God comes through when you need Him…thanks for sharing it.

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