This is Eric Metaxas. Today on BreakPoint, Chuck Colson tells us about a beautiful Christmas Day, behind bars.

Chuck Colson

Bessie Shipp was spending Christmas in jail. A slender black woman, Bessie was watching her life slip rapidly away. Though she had not been sentenced to death by the state, she was under a different death sentence: Bessie had AIDS.

I met Bessie that Christmas Day in a North Carolina prison for women. I had come to give a Christmas message to the inmates there.

The atmosphere was glum. The small crowd that gathered to hear me preach was somber and subdued.

After the service, a prison official said, “Do you have time to visit Bessie Shipp?”

“Who’s Bessie Shipp?” I asked. When they told me, I confess, I was taken aback. This was several years ago, and I had never visited an AIDS patient.

And yet, just the night before, I had seen a television story about Mother Teresa and the AIDS patients she was caring for. How could I do anything less?

“I’ll go,” I said.

We walked down a narrow corridor, and a heavy door was opened to reveal a small, dark cell. There, sitting in a hard-backed chair was this tiny woman, wrapped in a bathrobe, shivering in the cold. To my surprise, I saw a Bible on her lap.daily_commentary_12_25_14

After chatting a few minutes, I came right to the point. “Bessie,” I said, “Do you know the Lord?”

“I want to,” she replied softly. “But I don’t always feel like He’s there.” And her voice trailed off.

“Would you like to pray with me to know Christ as your Savior?” I asked.

Bessie looked down, twisted a Kleenex in her thin hands, and finally whispered, “Yes, I would.”

So we prayed together in that cold, concrete cell. And Bessie made a decision that would change the rest of her short life: She gave it to Jesus Christ.

Only days later Bessie was paroled. Friends and prison officials had been trying to get her released for a long time. But the timing was providential. She stayed long enough to meet Christ, and then she went to her home as a new Christian.

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