It was the fall of 1975 when I began visiting the Du-Page County Jail in Illinois. I am Gideon Ray, and we Gideons had free access to walk from cell block to cell block bringing Scriptures and talking to men about the Lord.
Most cell blocks had 20 beds except those confined to maximum security. It was in maximum security that I met a man named Joe. At first Joe did not care to talk to me. Finally one Tuesday night he said to me, “Don’t waste your time on me. I will never be forgiven.”
Upon learning that Joe had committed murder, I told him that the sin of murder was also forgiven under the power of Christ’s blood. He was not convinced, so I told him from the Scriptures the story of King David and his murder of Uriah. Joe’s religious background was in the Catholic Church where sins are ranked by the degrees of sinfulness. Joe was under the conviction his sin was ranked the absolute worst.
I offered him a Gideon New Testament, but he refused at first. Then one day he took the New Testament with the Psalms. Joe read the Gospel of John and Psalms, and in a day in October Joe and I read Psalm 51. Psalm 51 is King David’s prayer begging God for forgiveness. Joe on that wonderful day gave his heart to Jesus Christ. He prayed the sinner’s prayer that was on the back cover of his little Gideon Testament.
Upon my arrival home I told my wife Ruth that a man name Joe accepted Jesus!! She asked his last name and upon hearing it said that the ladies from the neighborhood Bible study had been praying for Joe. They knew Joe, and they also knew that he killed a farmer and buried him on his own farm by cutting his body in pieces with the farmer’s disk blades. The Bible study group could not believe their ears that Joe was saved!!
After Joe was sent to several state prisons he became the jailhouse mailman. Joe had a supply of Gideon tracts, Gospels of John and Christian literature. As the new men arrived in the prison, Joe was able to lead many of his fellow prisoners to Christ.
When Joe was in maximum security in jail, I asked him for his testimony to help other men understand that even the most horrible crime can be forgiven. Joe sent me his testimony which he entitled “Do You Know?”(See Below))
All praise to God and to His Son for using the prayers of a women’s Bible Study Group. And thank God for using a man named Ray to bring salvation to “A Man Named Joe.”
“I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone
who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16
DO YOU KNOW?
My fellow residents, do you know the meaning of frustration, do you? My name is Joe and for years back in the late 1960’s and 1970’s I worked the bureaucracy and red tape to buy a farm. It was a dream that had waited for fulfillment since I was in the 7th grade. But it was not to be.
I decided to try it another way, to take it by force. In August of that year, with the intent to take his farm, I killed a man near Carol Stream, Illinois.
Until March or April of 1976, Du-Page County Jail was my home. While there, our Lord sent Christian friends and my brother Terry to start me on the road back. Ray and Clarence were two of those Christian friends. Clarence has since went home to be with Jesus. Ray and Clarence were with the Gideons then and Ray still is. After much Bible study and prayer, on October 7th, 1975, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and my Savior.
Since then Joliet Prison and Graham CC have been my places of residence. You think it’s hard and you are right, it is, but Jesus can be real to you. It will not be easy, but with our Lord you can do it. Understand this my fellowmen, were it not for Jesus these last 21 years, I would have been a mental patient long ago. Jesus made the difference. Sincerely, Joe.