Pay It Foward – In Prison!!

I stepped out of my comfort zone totally for this “Pay It Forward”. I visited someone in prison.

I had gotten to know this gentleman while volunteering with an organization that works with men coming out of treatment and prison to turn their lives around. I met Fred a couple years ago and he always said I was the big sister he never had.

Fred violated his parole by using alcohol and was sent to prison for 18 months.  I asked Fred to put me on his list of visitors and I filled out all the forms and was approved to visit him. That was ten months ago.

I’ve been so busy……isn’t that a rotten excuse. Well, I just finally went to visit him.

I drove 45 minutes to the prison, went through security, waited a half hour and finally my name was called.

 I walked through the first set of electronic steel doors. When that one slammed shut behind me it was a little unsettling standing in a small holdling hallway waiting for the next steel door to open. It did and it too slammed shut behind me. A voice behind a black mirror asked me to pass my ID through a slit in a wall.


Then the final steel door opened and there was Fred! Oh the look on his face when I walked in! That big beautiful smile and sparkling eyes. He had no idea who was visiting him and he was shocked.

We were allowed to hug “on the red carpet section” only. We took our seats and the guard told us when we had 5 minutes left of the hour. It was the fastest hour I can remember.

I asked Fred how his Faith was holding up in Prison:

Fred:“Shar, one night another guy and I decided to pray together in the rec room 15 minutes before being ordered back to our cells for the night. We started doing it every night and each night more and more men started to join us. We hold hands in a circle and pray out loud”.

Me: “Wow”, “how many men are there gathering at night now to pray?”

Fred: “About 30”, 

Can you believe it? I would love to see that sight! Thirty men, in prison, holding hands, and bowing their heads in prayer.

Did I “pay it forward” by taking half my day to visit him? Maybe……but that isn’t what I learned. He is the one paying it forward to others in prison with no hope. And what a gift he gave me in return.