At the age of 31, Robert Douglas was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.

For seven years, his aggression often landed him in solitary confinement. One night while in “the hole” as he calls it, Douglas was bombarded by the echo of someone pounding on the other side of his metal cell wall. A rough voice repeatedly pleaded with Douglas to recite a Bible passage about salvation.

“Leave me alone!” Douglas kept yelling back. But the man persisted, instructing Douglas to search his cell for a Bible. Douglas arose from his stiff huddle, searched his cell and found a Bible crammed behind the toilet, reeking of urine. He found a passage and read it, then continued reading aloud till dawn.

“Thank you, man!” exclaimed the voice on the other side of the wall. “That was really nice of you.”

When Douglas was released back into the general prison population the next morning, he asked the guard who the other prisoner was because he wanted to pray for him. “What’s wrong with you, man?” asked the guard. “Ain’t been nobody there all night but you!”

Douglas continued to read his Bible, studying on his own for several years. About three years ago he joined with a group of other inmates who particpate in Bible studies with members of the Davenport and Muscatine churches’ prison ministry team. Last year, in a portable baptistry that was brought into the prison, Douglas was baptized into membership of the Muscatine Church.

For more information about the Davenport and Muscatine churches’ prison ministry program, contact Pastor Eddie Cabrera at 417.840.2806.

Linda Gannett is a member of the Davenport Church and serves on their prison ministry team.

Photo: Courtesy Anamosa State Penitentiary