My wife, Gayliss, and I have been volunteer chaplains at OJPM for two decades, now. We have been serving God for many years. While in Bible school, I pastored two churches.
I lived on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay for two years as a preschooler, back in the early 194O’s. My father was a chief warrant officer with the U.S. Public Health Service. He moved to Alcatraz to manage the prison’s medical clinic! Our family lived on the island beside the prison building. Alcatraz was a maximum-security federal prison, populated with problem inmates. As a preschooler, I attended Sunday School weekly on the island. The teachers made lasting spiritual contributions within my life.
The World War II years affected our family in the early 194O’s. That island in San Francisco Bay had air raid sirens sounding across San Francisco harbor at night and all the exterior lights be turned off! My Dad said that submarine nets were installed across San Francisco Bay to prevent enemy submarines from entering. Our grocery purchases were limited due to the war effort. To make purchases at the small grocery store on the island, a governmental coupon was required. You could only purchase one of each item you bought.
World War II fighter planes occasionally flew low over the island with the cockpit opened and the pilot leaning over to sight see. When they waved at me, I always waved back. The war in the Pacific was evident everywhere I looked! Sundays, my mother and I often sat on the park bench facing San Francisco’s piers and watched transport ships leaving with soldiers and war munitions/equipment. Those ships went across the Pacific stopping at Pearl Harbor.
Beside that park bench was an antique iron cannon. During that war, the cannon was removed and melted down, to contribute to the war effort! Previous to that iron cannon’s removal, during a birthday party, four of us boys were photographed sitting on top that cannon. On that picture, I am the rear child sitting there. That photo continues to be used in Alcatraz books and advertisements.
At the prison’s medical clinic, my dad doctored Al Capone and The Birdman of Alcatraz. When a tour guide learned that my dad had managed the medical clinic, he opened the door leading upstairs to the clinic and took us to see it. The medical clinic still remains there with all its equipment, desks and furniture in place just as if my dad worked there that day!
Events across time have not been coincidental for Gayliss and me! Psalms 37:23 announces, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delights in his way!” The fact of this occurrence has been evident as years have passed. Spiritual inputs and experiences have continued contributing to us across time!
During my years following Alcatraz, because my mother sent me to church, a growing awareness of the value of walking with God developed within me. Later, while in grade school in Atlanta and going to church, a visiting evangelist spoke during our church service one Sunday. Sitting in the balcony, I sensed unmistakable guidance within directing me to listen to what that preacher was saying! I did, with wonderful results! While walking home I prayed to get saved . . . and was! Such a major change in my lifestyle resulted that a school bully got mad at me! He accused me of becoming a good person. When I quit my bad habits. he was right!
In high school, I carried my Bible among my schoolbooks to class daily. No one else did that. Afterward, the Navy was a great place to serve the Lord! After Gayliss and I married, we were active in serving God at every church we attended. She and I will have been happily married 48 years in February.
Our continued participation in the jail ministry during this period is an evident result of Psalms 37: 23 happening within our lives and marriage! We look forward to each new day of opportunity for doing ministry at the jail with OJPM.