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(Part 3) “I Pray For Everybody”: Alabama Prisoners on God and Faith

“God means everything to me, man,” says G, who has been doing time in adult male prison in Alabama since he was a child, for around four decades, and is currently locked up in Ventress. He interviews with HTR in early August about God and faith. 

“God is the only way. God is truth and light into salvation. You know? God is everything. Without God – you know what I’m sayin? – you can’t make it nowadays,” he says.

Asked to elaborate, G continues, “Well – you know – you need to have God in your life, just to carry – you need to put God first in everything you do in life now.” 

G “always believed in God, since I was a child. But I got saved back in 2012” and was baptized in another Alabama prison, he says, from which he’s since been transferred.

Being saved in prison “was a life changing experience for me, man. Like I say, I always believed in God, and I always trusted in God, but when I got baptized, man, there was a lotta things I was doing that I had to change,” he says. 

Discussing the meaning faith has given to his life, “Faith is everything, man,” G says. “It’ll give you a lot of honest answers. It gives you a lot of patience …  It just give you a lot of different things. But – you know – you got to let it work, though. Faith without work isn’t there.” 

Faith is particularly important in prison, “most definitely,” says G, “because, like I say, once you believin in God, man – you know what I’m sayin? – and lettin God work for you, man, a lot things’ll change for you.” 

G prays “all the time,” he says. “That’s all I can do, is pray,” he adds, then pauses. 

“How do you mean?” asks the writer. 

“Well, I mean that’s all I can do is have faith in God and pray. That’s all I can do. I can’t do nothin else – you know what I’m sayin? – because I know one thing: God got His own time, His own Judgement, about doing things,” G replies. 

Asked what he prays about most these days, G says, “I pray for everybody, man. I pray for my family, all these guys’ families that are sittin in here. You know? And I just pray that God will come in, man, and change things that’s goin on, because if there’s anybody could do it, He could do it. He could stop the coronavirus, stop or do anything He wanted to. You better believe that.” 

G frequently reads his Bible and enjoys reading in general, though it’s often difficult to get books. 

“I read The Bible to get a lot of different understandings. You know what I’m sayin? I read The Bible to get understandings on things that I don’t know nothin about. God’ll give you the understandin, man, to be able to see a lot of things differently.” 

Asked about the tragedies, hard times, bad things happening to good people, and why God allows that, G answers, 

“Well, you really can’t – that’s not our – not our field to judge. You know? We can’t judge the world, because ain’t nothin gonna happen that God ain’t allow to happen. You know. So, I don’t try to judge what’s goin on in the world. I just try to – you know – get free and make it better.” 

G reflects on how his relationships to God and faith have changed and grown stronger with age. 

“Like I said, I always believed in God. I just didn’t get close to God till I got locked up – you know what I’m sayin? – eventually, when I got older. [Getting older] is why I got to believe in It more and more,” he says. 

He pauses before continuing. 

“Psh, when you’re young, man, and runnin around, you ain’t know anything about God. You know? It’s the farthest thing from your mind. But once you get older, man, kind of sittin around, you ain’t doin nothin – you know what I’m sayin? – so you have a chance to pray more,” he explains. 

He decided to get baptized in 2012, long into his sentence, because “it was just somethin I felt like I needed to do. You know? Somethin I ain’t ever did before. I felt like it was somethin I needed to do before I leave this world,” he says. 

Asked if he fears death, G pauses for a long moment. 

“Well, really I don’t, because it’s something that’s gonna happen anyway,” he answers. “You know what I’m sayin?” 

He pauses again, then adds, “I do fear death. I mean, don’t nobody want to die. They’ll say they do, but for real, people don’t wanna die man. For real. Or, well, I mean, I know I don’t. You got some – you know – that commit suicide. You got some kill themselves. You know. I ain’t gonna ever let it – you know – get me to that stage.” 

Asked about his reasons to keep on living, what keeps him going, G replies, “Well, like I say, I got faith, man. I know that I’m gonna get out one day. I know that I’m gonna get out one day soon. I don’t ever stop trustin in God, because His Time ain’t our time, and our time ain’t His Time. You know what I’m sayin? He’s gonna move when He get ready.” 

G believes “that’s what’s wrong with the streets, man. Ain’t nobody trustin in God no more. Ain’t nobody believin in God no more. Everybody’s trying to do things on their own. But this ain’t our world. This is God’s world, and we’re just passing through. You know? So, we ain’t here forever. God’s trying to show everybody – now – that we all got to come together, man. It ain’t no Whites, ain’t no Blacks, ain’t no Hispanics. Ain’t no nothin. You know what I’m sayin? All of us is one generation of people.” 

He adds: “The Bible says that before we leave the world, every knee gonna bow and every tongue gonna confess.”

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