A)Yes, I do. First, because the holy Bible presents clear accounts of those who have been subjected to varying degrees of demonic influence. I'd be careful, however, when using the term "possession." This is because it is often misunderstood. And, as is so often the case, it is exaggerated in movies and on television. Yet the Bible reveals that demons are real beings, and they are to be avoided. Demons, also known as "evil spirits," can sometimes cause suicide, sickness, and mental illness.
Secondly, I believe that both demons and evil exists, because we could see the reality of this in today's world. Sadly, all kinds of terrible atrocities occur in the world. War and bloodshed, political corruption and dictatorships, horrible crimes and gross immorality - all these things are evidences for the reality of evil. And, I believe, as well, that much of this kind of evil originates within the human heart, and not from demons alone.
Nevertheless , with regard to the concept of evil, I'd like you (the students) to think outside of the box. In other words, when we think of evil, we'd usually think of things like terrorism, mass murder or stealing the life savings of others, leaving them destitute. Clearly, this is evil. Yet the picture is much bigger than this.
In my opinion, at its most basic level, evil is simply doing bad to someone, either by bringing harm to that person directly, or by damaging his property. As I've said, evil originates from within one's heart, and we are all capable of it. It starts by doing one bad act. For example, I think bullying is evil. It may seem like an everyday, commonplace thing. This may be especially true in the school setting. I was bullied when I was a kid. And, I, in turn, bullied others. It was a vicious cycle.
But think about this: bullying causes the person who's being bullied to experience a lot of emotional pain and anguish. Teenagers have even committed suicide because they'd been victims of this kind of crime. They just couldn't take it anymore. What could be more cruel than this? To hate someone and to harass and humiliate him or her with threats, cruel words or punches that will make this person's life to be a living hell, maybe even to the point where he or she takes their life - is this evil or what? You bet it is!
The point I am trying to make, however, is that we need to expand our view of what evil is. I've used bullying as one example of evil. But at its core, evil is hating and hurting someone, either physically or emotionally, or both.
Evil is not only a terrorist blowing himself up and killing a lot of people in the process. It is not only taking a gun to school and shooting others. Evil is doing harm to another human being for no other reasons than hatred, dislike, jealousy or prejudice.
So think about these things. Evil is more than demons at work. It is people hurting people. It is going out of your way to make someone's life miserable - which neither you nor I have the right to do. And with this said, maybe we can both agree that evil is more prevalent than we first thought. It's everywhere, even in the classroom. But evil can be overcome with good, and this is the best part.
2. How important is the role of a parent in the development of a child?
A) I believe that a child being raised in a stable, two parent home is extremely important to a child's overall development. This, I think, is the ideal child-rearing environment. Anything less may hinder the child's development. Of course this is not always the case. But I believe this to be the most accepted point of view.
I've also heard that many studies have been done which show that children raised with only one parent, or with grandparents, or through foster care have higher risks of juvenile delinquency. They're also at a higher risk for adolescent alcohol and drug experimentation, sexual experimentation, and truancy.
Obviously two parents are better than one as it takes a lot of work and effort to raise a child in today's world. Having two well-adjusted parents can help a child to weather the storms of life as well as provide him with healthy role models of what a mother and father should be. Two parents may also help keep a child from succumbing to negative peer pressure. I'm no expert, of course. But these are my thoughts on the matter.
In addition, two parents can better provide the child with adequate adult supervision. There can also be better guidance, discipline and rule enforcement with two parents in the home. There's more parental contact, too, because a single parent may have to spend time at work leaving the child alone for long periods. Likewise many studies have been done which show that an absent father, for example, increases a boy's chances for juvenile delinquency. Therefore, a two parent home is best. Unfortunately this is not always possible.
3. How were you saved and healed, and how many others have you lead to know Christ?
A) I had become a Christian after another prisoner befriended me and patiently shared his faith with me. While behind the scenes, little did I know that God was working on my heart. When I accepted the Lord in the late 1990s, it was as if a new life had begun. Today, many years later, God has opened doors of opportunity for me to share my faith in many places throughout the world. This is mostly in prisons across the united states via my printed testimony called "Son of Hope." But also through DVDs and by my website: www.AriseandShine.org.
Psalm 40:1-3 best sums up my life's story. I was drowning in a sea of confusion and self-destruction. But during this time of desperation I called upon the name of the Lord. Jesus heard my cry, and He took pity on me. He reached out and pulled me from a sea of sin. He then washed those sins away with the blood He'd shed on the cross of Calvary. Since then God has put a song of hope in my heart and on my lips. I am grateful for this. And hopefully people from all walks of life will likewise come to the understanding that God loves them, too. That what He has done for me, He will gladly do for them.
All told, prison is a bad place to be in, and I've now been locked up for thirty-five years. But these days I am very busy. Because prison is a place where hurting souls need to hear the good news that Christ loves them. That He cares for their well-being. And this is part of what I am here for, to tell this to these men, and to show them God's love. And as for how many lives Christ has touched through me, I have no idea.
March 2, 2012