About 5 foot 7, graying blonde, with merry blue eyes and soft wrinkles mapped across a chubby face, and chunky around the middle, he wore a yellow collared knit shirt with a beautiful solid gold crucifix that poked out at the top.
“I used to be in prison ministries,” his accented voice continued our conversation. “Back when we could meet face to face with even the toughest criminals, with no guards around. They were the most rewarding years of my life.”
“I’ll bet,” I smiled in agreement, remembering the days when my husband and I ministered to those dying in a hospital for AIDS victims.
“I met pretty regularly with the same group of men. But one day I found myself with a group I had never seen before. We walked toward the outermost end of the courtyard. I heard murmuring and turned around to look at the unfamiliar faces.
“ ‘You know, we could kill you right here. It wouldn’t matter to us.’
“I looked squarely at them. ‘Yes, you can. You can kill me when I turn my back, like cowards. Or you can kill me face to face. Which do you want to do?’ I moved my hands to call them toward me.
“ ‘This guy’s crazy,’ they mumbled to each other.
“Maybe I’m crazy. But one thing I know is that if you do kill me right now, I will be immediately in the presence of God because I’m here to tell you about him.
“ ‘How do you know that? What do you mean, tell us about him?’
“I don’t know a lot of things but I do know how your life can change for the better.
“ ‘Really? How?’ several asked.
“By coming to know him and living the way he tells you to live. I am positive your life would be better.
“They looked at each other. ‘So, go ahead, tell us more.’’
I’m sure my eyes were ready to pop. “Really?”
“So what happened next?” I asked.
“I told them everything I knew,” Juan replied simply.
“And then we met again and again. And they were changed.”
My eyes brimmed, “Thank you for sharing that with me.”
“You’re welcome. What’s your name?”
“I’ll pray for you.”
And I believe he will.
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