The Zoo Cage Prophet

Being a Thomas

by Adrian G. Torres

 

It was routine by now. I'd gone through the same steps many times. No nerves. No worries. Very relaxed. I knew what to expect and I was ready to get it over with.

It was time to remove my toenail again and I wanted no part in others' business. A group of five of us were taken to the medical facility, a few miles away from our facility. All five had different reasons to be there, but at this time I truly didn't care. I was there for me and my toe, not them.

When we arrived we were placed in the standard 6' x 6' holding cell. The bench only holds three grown men, so I quickly found a spot and sat down. Even with a bloody, swollen toe I still could move quickly. Two others followed my lead and sat down next to me. Two were left standing.

Next to us was another identical cell. But the sight of the man in that cell was strange—odd. The man was naked, yet covered with a strange-looking poncho. The poncho was just long enough to cover the man's private parts. His hair was dirty-looking and unkempt. His fingernails and toenails were long and dirty. His eyes—oh, his eyes!—had a wild and cold look.

My only assumption was that this man was mad and suicidal. And all the suicide cells in the medical facility were occupied by other suicidal men. So the facility had no choice but to place this man in the adjoining cell.

Inside me I wanted nothing to do with this madman. All I wanted was to go through my toenail removal surgery, and that's it. So I purposely made no eye contact or gave him any reason to look my way.

I closed my eyes to temporarily remove myself from the ugly and real world of prison health management. My eyes quickly opened when I heard a voice. No, not from God, but from brother Thomas Smith.

Thomas is a leader in our English-speaking church group. He is also an outstanding man of God. Thomas not only loves the Lord with every cell in his body, but he also loves witnessing to whoever will listen.

Thomas was one of the five men who traveled to the medical facility that morning. He had been suffering from really bad back problems. He preferred to stoop down instead of standing or sitting. Willingly, he made no effort to win a seat on the bench. And willingly he decided to stoop right next to the madman's holding cell.

It wasn't long before Thomas started to witness to the madman. "God loves you," Thomas explained to the madman sitting on the bench on the opposite side of his own holding cell.

The madman didn't answer, but did turn toward Thomas.

"What's your name?" Thomas didn't give up. "I'm Thomas. Thomas Smith." Thomas offered his name to break the ice.

The madman answered and stood up. At first I thought the madman was about to show his madness. But I was wrong.

As he stood he childishly made his way over toward Thomas. Since Thomas was stooped low, the madman also made his way to the ground. Only the cage wall separated Thomas from him.

Thomas spoke to the madman for at least an hour. At times I would see Thomas stick his fingers through the cage and touch fingertips with the man. Every time they touched I could see Thomas lead the man in prayer.

Witnessing this awesome interaction not only convicted me, but made me proud to work side-by-side in ministry with Godly men like Thomas Smith. For what if Thomas wasn't there with his back problem that morning? Who would have witnessed to the madman? Surely not me, for I was "high on my horse" that morning and wanted nothing to do with anyone—especially madmen.

But praise be to God that Thomas' heart was listening to God's voice. A voice that was calling him to witness to the man who desperatly needed to hear about God's love.

As Christians—children of God—we are called to be His witnesses. But are we? I believe, because it's true too in my case, that we sometimes choose to witness to only those who appear easy. And ignore the "harder-looking" souls. But God—in His mercy and grace—is calling us to be His witnesses to the poor in spirit, the weary, the broken-hearted, and to all who are being put to the side by society. The broken. The sad. The mad.

We take the easy-witnessing road and call ourselves super witnesses. We count all the easy souls we witness to in a week and throw ourselves a party. But as we celebrate, many dark and sad souls are being swallowed up by their own demons. They thirst for a way out, but we ignore them. Mind our own business. Close our eyes, not wanting any part.

Where do you fit in? Are you a Thomas or and Adrian? I pray we all come to be Thomases. This world needs more Thomas Smiths.

           ...no longer ignoring the mad...

 

©2015 Friends of Adrian.

This article is from our May/June 2016 Indian Life newspaper. To read more Indian Life news, please go to our newspaper website at www.newspaper.indianlife.org to subscribe to our online newspaper or go to our Online Store to subscribe to have it delivered to your door!