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Double Redemption

My mind swirled with memories of my crimes. Lying on my prison bed, I was filled with remorse and wanted to die. But fear gripped me. What if the devil comes for my life? To appease him, I turned to the wall and invoked him to come and deliver me from my misery and this prison. But I got no response—except that my Muslim cellmate, frightened by my prayers, refused to talk to me. I felt absolutely alone, deeply depressed, and wanted to end my life.

In many ways I grew up in a typical Chinese home. My father was a Buddhist and my mother, originally a Catholic, had eventually yielded and become a Buddhist. My mother’s conversion was an attempt to put an end to the blame game. Whenever my parents suffered financial losses in their business, they would always put the fault on the other’s faith.

Being the only boy in the family, I grew up selfish and proud, with my parents favoring me above my two sisters. From childhood, whenever I cried and demanded my way, my parents would give me whatever I wanted.

I managed to graduate from elementary school, but I had no desire to study. My certificate for high school was purchased with money by my parents. Being ill-tempered guaranteed that I would get what I wanted, and my parents only knew to indulge me. They worried about me, but could do nothing when I picked up the bad habits of gambling, street fighting, and abusing drugs.

In 2003, in the wave of immigration from China, I followed others to migrate to the U.S.—illegally. In America, I got a job and paid off the debt of my illegal passage to the U.S. Afterwards, I resumed my old habits. The money I earned went to gambling, nightclubbing, and doing drugs. In 2010, while trying to start my own business, I befriended some dishonest people and before long we were committing crimes together.

When I was arrested, I somehow knew everything was finished for me. I cried all the way to the jail, begging the policeman to kill me. Of course, he could not do that. I confessed everything, hoping I’d get a lesser sentence, but that didn’t happen.

Day after day, alone in my cell, my mind ran to suicide. How could I kill myself? I contemplated every possibility. Could I hang myself, cut my wrist, or could I get and drink some poison? My situation was just as the Bible says, the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). In bondage to sin and in deep depression, I felt death would be a welcomed relief. Every 30 minutes the jailor would come to look into my cell to make sure I was okay.

Then one day I was roused out of lethargy by a cellmate’s voice, “Someone wants to see you.” I looked up to see a man extending his hand to me and asking, “How are you?” Introducing himself, Bob Carver offered me a Chinese Bible as well as some other materials, all in Chinese. Then Bob gave me a warm hug and said “Jesus loves you.” Even in my desperation, I was astonished by Bob’s action. He had touched me! I was profoundly moved.

The Bible says, I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me (Romans 10:20). The touch was so wonderful! God knew that I did not want to live, and He sent His servant Bob Carver to touch me. I wanted to end my life, but God wanted to save my life. As Bob began to teach me about God’s selfless love, I was drawn to that Love, and I gladly surrendered myself to Him.

The Bible was the only Chinese book I had in the jail, and I read it carefully. I was profoundly attracted to the words in it. The confession of David after he had sinned were the words that suited me the best: Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psalm 51:1-3, 5, 10).

During the three years I’ve been in prison, Bob has continued to bring Chinese reading materials to me, and a pastor from Canada writes me letters to encourage and strengthen me in the faith. I understand that the Lord Jesus gave His life as a sacrifice for my sins. Because of that, I now can truly live. Even death will be gain for me.

In prison my Heavenly Father has faithfully kept me from trouble. There are often fights and gangsters who want to stir up trouble, but God’s Word guides me and protects me from tribulation. When I look back on my past wrongdoing, I feel disgust and shame. But I know I’m a new man—born again! Now I have joy and peace. Whenever the flesh rises up and causes me to want to sin, the Lord helps me to overcome. He promised, All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away (John 6:37).

I have tasted the goodness of the Lord. Because He has been gracious to me, I want to glorify Him the rest of my life.

(Dong Lin submitted this article while serving his sentence in a correctionalinstitution. He helps organize a “circle prayer” every night at 8:30 p.m. with other inmates.)

Article Link: http://ccmusa.org/read/read.aspx?id=chg20140204
To reuse online, please credit Challenger, Apr-Jun 2014. CCMUSA.