On the day that Greg Williams got busted on a drug charge and was walked into jail, he was chained to a guy with a lot of nervous energy named Chino, who thought that if you’re chained, you should chat. Greg didn’t agree.
“What are you in for?” Chino asked.
Greg didn’t say anything.
“Dude, what are you in for?”
“Don’t worry about it,” Greg curtly replied.
“Want to know what I’m in for?”
“Weapons—lots of them. I got a whole arsenal. Cannons, bombs, rocket launchers, you name it. I’m fighting the forces of evil on earth,” Chino said.
Get this guy away from me, Greg thought.
Greg was uncomfortable talking about things like religion. He spent the last 17 years dealing meth and once had a dream where the devil showed up to a party wearing tuxedo pants, suspenders with a coat and tails, a bow tie, and slicked-back hair. In the dream, the devil told Greg to take a gun and kill a man. When Greg said no and that he was done with him, the devil replied, “Too bad. You were one of my best.”
The dream spooked Greg. As a dealer and heavy user, he knew that he had sold his soul to the devil long ago.
In the months ahead, Greg cursed his luck coming in the same day as Chino. Chino believed that they had a bond. At unsuspecting times, Chino would show up with a Bible, point to Ephesians 6, and talk to Greg about putting on the Armor of God.
At unsuspecting times, Chino would show up with a Bible, point to Ephesians 6, and talk to Greg about putting on the Armor of God.
“Would you get out of here?” Greg would tell him.
Chino was unfazed. He kept showing up. Even when Greg was on the john, a time everyone knew was a private moment, Chino didn’t care. He would come right up to Greg, talk about the Armor of God, and why Jesus was his only hope.
Greg couldn’t catch a break. On the few occasions when he was moved to a new cell, Chino would be moved too. Chino was always moved next door or right above. Even on the two occasions Greg had to go to court, Chino had to too. To make matters worse, both times, they were chained together. “Remember, dude, there’s nothing more important than putting on the Armor of God.”
“Hey, Chino, would you knock it off about this stuff?! You’re driving me crazy!”
One night, Greg was in bed with a book on the world’s religions and was reading a chapter on Satanism. Just then he felt something on his chest. He frantically began to brush it away. Through his periphery, he saw a man with a bow tie, wearing suspenders, tuxedo pants and tails, dive under his bed. His iron bed that was bolted to the wall shook like plywood.
“Help!” Greg screamed, jumping to his knees.
When the guards came, Greg was perched on his mattress like a frightened little boy. As they opened the door, Greg jumped out like a man on fire. “He’s underneath! Check underneath! He was on my chest!”
The guards searched in vain. “There was definitely something under there,” he yelled to the guards. Moments later, he saw a mouse.
A mouse? It was only a mouse? he thought.
Later that morning, Greg sat having breakfast and deep in thought.
“Hey, what was all the commotion about last night?” a voice said. It was Chino plopping down next to Greg. He was the last guy Greg wanted to talk to.
“What are you talking about?” Greg said sternly.
“All that commotion. Man, you were flipping out.”
“Get out of here, Chino.”
Chino moved closer and looked in Greg’s eye. “He was here, wasn’t he?”
“Who?” Greg said, chilled by Chino’s assertion.
Chino grabbed his arm. “Don’t worry; he’s not in you anymore.”
Greg looked at him with freak-out all over his face. Chino looked back. “And it wasn’t a mouse,” Chino said.
Greg abruptly stood, looked at Chino, developed a bad case of the shivers and stormed away.
A couple of months later, Greg received news that his charges were being dropped. He would be leaving prison immediately. In a rush, he grabbed his things and was being escorted toward the gates. He looked around to see if he could wave to friends. Through a window, he saw Chino. He gave him a look and motion with his thumb as if to say, I’m out of here.
Chino, gave a smile and lifted his chin.
Stepping out of the gates, Greg made a B-line for his nearest meth contact to resume his life. Three months later, Greg’s business was operating at peak speed, just like before. But he let down his guard, and a probation violation sent him back to jail one more time. He was furious that he blew it yet again.
As he walked back into jail, this time a different jail, he felt the depression that comes with being at the end of your rope. Anybody who gets caught this many times must stink as a criminal, he thought. And if I don’t have the thug life, what do I have?
Lonely and mad, he thought about Chino and all the times he talked about the Bible. He picked one up and began to read. Like a pop-up book, the words began to spring up out of the pages. Suddenly Greg had a new passion. He read the Bible cover to cover.
He picked one up and began to read. Like a pop-up book, the words began to spring up out of the pages.
Upon his release, he decided to go to church—the Rock Church. At the end of the service, when Pastor Miles said, “Some of you are sitting there with your heart pounding,” it described Greg perfectly. He could hardly contain his excitement to receive Jesus into his heart.
Greg walked to the altar and received a new life. He was beyond joyful. His old life was now gone. He was new in Christ.
That day, he thought about how Chino had led him to the Bible which led him to his Savior. He felt he needed to contact Chino and tell him thanks.
Greg got a hold of the official registry of inmates, but couldn’t find Chino. He looked again. He couldn’t find it again. He looked up the weapons charges against him. No one was at that jail with those kinds of charges, and there hadn’t been.
Greg was bewildered. As he sat and thought, it occurred to him that he had never seen Chino in the yard or playing ball with the guys or lifting weights. He never saw anybody else ever talk to him and never heard anybody mention his name. He never saw him in the mess hall other than the time Chino came up to talk to him. Greg’s eyes widened.
Greg found his own name as a recently released inmate. He checked for his other friends. They were there. But as he continued to check for Chino, it was clear. Chino was not and had never been a part of the system.
There was no Chino.