Thursday, October 28, 2010




I am writing this on Thursday, October 14, 2010, from prison. Along with most everyone else on the planet with access to a TV, this morning I watched the last of the thirty-three Chilean miners trapped deep in the earth be rescued after sixty-nine days underground. I couldn’t help but be moved to tears by the genuine emotions of love and relief expressed by the miners, their joyful rescuers, and everyone looking on. Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Belgium, said she couldn’t take her eyes from the screen.

Rescuers from around the world rallied to the Chilean desert to drill the hole that freed the men. Hundreds of newscasters provided round-the-clock coverage. The Chilean president put all his country’s resources to work to save the miners. Even NASA got involved, offering advice on the adverse effects of being isolated under such rigorous conditions. Poorly-paid, anonymous laborers have become “cause celebres,” international figures, their lives and the lives of their families irrevocably changed simply because they were determined to survive.

My fellow prisoners and I were deeply affected by the drama and the videos sent up from deep down inside that unsafe mine. We rooted for the men while doubtful that it could end any way but tragically. To see the last man come up—the foreman, the man who kept them all alive for the first seventeen days by doling out scant spoonfuls of food and water—we shared in the euphoria, cheering along with the rest of the world.

For myself, I can’t help but compare the trapped Chilean miners to my own life and situation, for I am trapped deep inside the pit of imprisonment, with no rescue in sight, no news reporters, no one drilling, no politicians lining up to greet and embrace me when the rescue pod finally opens outside the razorwire—topped fences.

The miners survived sixty-nine days. Today marks my 11,610th day of captivity! When the American Embassy hostages were captured in Tehran in 1979, I watched the drama unfold from a cell. They spent over 400 days as captives of the Ayatollah, which seemed like an incredible length of time at the time. Those folks—the ones who haven’t died—have been free for close to 11,000 days now. I am still trapped in the pit of wrongful imprisonment, but I survive.

One of the rescued miners said that both God and the Devil were with them in the mine, but God won. It’s no different in prison, except that the battle isn’t over, but is fought every day.

I am a Christian, and my faith in God, the promise that God has a plan for my life, has been a major reason I have survived these 11,610 days in the hell pit of prison. I’ve spent years reading The Bible, and the lessons I learned from my study have given me strength and understanding.

Joseph was the first person imprisoned in The Bible. First, his brothers put him in a pit. I can relate to Joseph’s story of imprisonment and redemption because he was also wrongly accused and imprisoned. There is a lesson there. He was eventually freed and went on to greater things.

One of my favorite jailbirds in The Bible was Jeremiah, the prophet, who was cast into a dung pit for speaking the truth. The vision of that good man deep in a hole full of excrement, depending on passers-by to provide him with bread and water, provides great meaning to many prisoners, especially me. Those in authority didn’t like what Jeremiah said, so they tried to silence him by throwing him in the hole. I can relate to that. Been there, done that, as they say. No First Amendment protections in Biblical days, or even the present day, in some places, as we have found out.

What was the last mention of imprisonment in The Bible? Wouldn’t you know it? It is in Revelation, and the lucky person is the Devil. May he stay there. Just let me out. I don’t expect to see the camera crews, the President, or cheering crowds when the prison gate opens for me. Just one or two people who love me and care about me will be enough. I do need some help, though. NASA’s not interested, and neither is Hillary or Diane Sawyer, but if you can tear yourself away from the TV set for a little while, and are willing to help, it will be appreciated. You don’t even need a drill


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