"O.G."

His name is Richard, but I will always call him “O.G.” In fact, more often than not, he will refer to himself as the Old Gangster. But, you have to say it like he does, “Ol’ Gangstah” in order to get it just right. The Ol’ Gangstah… “O.G”. for short. He picked up the name in prison, yet he was one of the most unlikely inmates you would ever want to meet.

You see, Richard, er… O.G. was a sedate real estate salesman. A member of my congregation, we suspected he had a wild story or two from his youth, but as an older, mature gentleman, he seemed far removed from any sort of trouble. He was dependable and caring, a true man of God.

One night, while driving home from church, he was pulled over by a local policeman. “You have a tail light out,” said the officer. “Better get that fixed in the morning.” Richard agreed and waited patiently while the officer sat behind him in the cruiser. “He is taking a long time…” thought my friend. “I wonder what’s up?” When the officer returned he wore a stern face and ordered Richard to get out of his car. “I’m afraid I am going to have to arrest you,” he said. “For my tail light?” asked Richard in shock. “There’s a warrant out for you - has been for a long time, apparently,” reported the officer. “You can see a judge in the morning.”

He spent the rest of that night in the local jail, waiting for the morning to bring answers.He racked his brain, trying to make sense of the circumstance, but he just could not recall any reason for which he should be imprisoned. The next day, in court, the judge showed little sympathy. A bad check some two decades before, had been on his record as an offense that he had somehow dismissed from memory. “Sixty days in prison,” he heard the court officer say. In disbelief, O.G. was handcuffed and led to a holding cell where he awaited transport to the county jail. There he was processed in and taken to the block that was to be his home for the next two months. His orange jump suit hung off his skinny frame like it was made for someone twice his size. He carried the sheet and a pillow that were handed to him somewhere in the check-in. As the door swung open on its heavy hinges he stared at a cell block full of inmates who were all looking back at him. Adopting his toughest pose, he said “Hi fellas,” and casually tossed his gear up on an empty bunk, like he had done this one hundred times before.

“Look at the Ol’ Gangstah,” breathed one inmate, glancing up from his poker game… Everyone chuckled and then returned their attention to the cards. O.G. climbed up to his bunk and pretended to nap while hiding his tears in the pillow. “How could you allow this to happen?” he asked God. “It isn’t fair at all.” O.G. was caught off guard by the answer. “I am here with you,” he felt the Lord say. “You are needed here.” O.G. argued a bit, wondering why he was the one that God needed in such a place. A few weeks later he got the answer.

One particular inmate had been incarcerated for many months. He had served his time, but he was genuinely nervous about being released the next day. His greatest fear was that his children would be like strangers now. Would he fit into their lives? “O.G.?” His whisper came through the gathering morning light. “I seen you pray, man. Will you pray for me?” The inmate’s voice carried across the block from where his bed lay. “I’m scared to go home.” O.G. climbed down from his bunk and sat on the edge of his cell mate’s bed. When he finished his prayer, the Old Gangstah was shocked to hear a chorus of ‘amens’ carry back to his ears. “O.G. I need some of that,” said one particularly tough inmate. “I do too,” said another. “Me too!” said a third. O.G. spent the morning praying bunk to bunk, man to man. When he finally collapsed back in his own bed, he wore a smile a mile wide.

Sixty days. O.G. went to the mission field for two months. There, he picked up a nickname  and a new confidence in God. Why? He was dependable and caring…. A true man of God.