I used to listen once in a while to Paul Harvey on the radio. He had a couple of different broadcasts, which were always interesting. One was news. The other was about something or somebody that you often knew a little bit about but you didn’t know the behind the scenes picture. At the end of each one of these segments Harvey would end by saying, “And now you know the rest of the story.” I want to give you the rest of the story about my friend Gabriel. I first wrote about him in a post dated September 5, 2011 when I shared about my first visit to the Palmasola Prison in Santa Cruz. After that initial visit, going to Palmasola to meet with Gabriel became a part of my routine. We visited about a lot of things, activities, friends, family and spiritual issues. It did not take many visits before I realized that there were two things that were of top priority for Gabriel – sharing his faith in Christ and restoring his marriage and family.
As for the first of these priorities, Gabriel found many opportunities in the prison to share with other prisoners about his faith. Eventually he gathered around himself a small group of young Christians whom he was discipling. Gabriel never asked me for much but one day he approached me about the possibility of helping them to purchase a jail cell so they could have a place to meet together undisturbed. (Private cells are either rented or purchased by prisoners.) After talking this over with the mission council we decided to make the investment and so we purchased a cell for Gabriel. Although small and crowded it gave Gabriel and his group of 16 or so prisoners a place to meet.
As for the desire to restore his marriage and family, we had conversations about how he could try to restore faith and trust with his wife. It was not easy for her, of course, to have him in prison leaving her to have to support and raise their two sons. Also, even before entering prison, Gabriel had been unfaithful to his wife and so it proved difficult for her to really believe that he was different or that, should he finally be released, he would be any different from the past.
One day Gabriel told me that the charges against him had been dropped and that he was supposed to be released. But that promise of momentary release kept stretching out and there was always one more thing, one more payment that needed to be made. So, when I left Bolivia for deputation in the States, he was still waiting to be released. I tried to keep some contact with Gabriel from the States but I was never able to talk with him directly. I did keep hearing, however, that he was still awaiting his release. Then not too long ago I received a message from one of our pastors telling me that Gabriel has been released and is attending a church somewhere (I don’t know which church) with his wife. This was good news to hear. He is working as a taxi driver again and apparently is with his wife and sons. I thank God for his faithfulness in changing Gabriel. I now pray that he will remain faithful to the Lord, to his wife and children and to the church.
And now you know the rest of the story.