My Tearful Tuesday

It’s not every day a man gets something in the mail that brings him to tears.  Today was one of those days for me.

It was a large manila envelope sporting the return address of a prison in Maryland.  I couldn’t imagine what I’d find inside.   It turned out to be an 8-page, handmade booklet measuring 9 inches by 12 inches.  On the cover were the words “Thank You” above a picture of a wooden cross with a rose on it. (See below)

Inside, to my astonishment, I found personal, handwritten messages of thanks from inmates, who, as a group, had studied my book, The Samson Syndrome.  The messages were beautiful and powerful, but the thing that brought me to tears was the fact that virtually every inmate addressed me as “brother.”

“To Brother Mark Atteberry…”

“My Brother…”

“Greetings Brother Mark…

“Brother Mark…”

And so on.

Most people would look at me, a pastor, and them, inmates in a correctional institution, and assume we had nothing in common.  They would be wrong.  We are indeed brothers, children of the same Father.  We are family, more so than many people who share the same DNA.

I have received quite a few gifts from readers of the Samson Syndrome: An American flag that was flown on combat missions with the 101st Airborne in Iraq, autographed pictures and jerseys from professional athletes, free tickets to NFL games, free meals and mountains of letters.  But nothing has ever touched my heart like this handmade booklet written by men behind bars.  It reminds me, as Paul’s prison epistles do, that faith can flourish anywhere.

It also reinforces my belief in the power of the written word.

I am deeply grateful that Thomas Nelson Publishers is re-releasing The Samson Syndrome with a new cover next year (in April) for a new generation of readers.  I just finished revising and updating it a couple of weeks ago.   On the same day next spring, The Solomon Seduction, my brand new book, will be released by Thomas Nelson.  I know some guys who are going to get free copies.  They live in Maryland and they’re my brothers.

Prison book

 

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10 Responses to My Tearful Tuesday

  1. Ed Williamson says:

    What a great story! This is why we are supposed to be “visiting” those in prison. This will bear eternal fruit. God bless your ministry! I look forward to your new book.

  2. Peggy Greenwood says:

    I hardly ever cry, Mark, but I sure got a catch in my throat from today’s blog. I’m sure it was the ultimate reaffirmation of the comfort and teaching that your books bring. Samson’s Syndrome is the only one of your books I haven’t read because I thought it was a guy’s book, but now I want to read it and then pass it on to my grandson who really needs some enlightenment. Thank you.

  3. Kim says:

    Mark, this brought a tear to MY eye! What an appropriate Thanksgiving week gift. Grateful for our friendship, brother! -Kim

    • Mark says:

      And I am grateful for you, Kim. You are one of the blessings of my writing life. We would never have met if we hadn’t both been authors.

  4. Rosan says:

    Beautiful story. I too, am grateful for your writings that reaching these men everywhere.

  5. Thank you for sharing such a precious moment. You reach, and reach and reach some more and then a miracle happens: changed lives. Thank you for your willing heart.

  6. Linda Wallace says:

    That is wonderful! What a blessing to be able to be a part of such a wonderful story. I have recommended Samson Syndrome to lots of people and it is still one of my favorites of all of your books! So excited to hear that they are refreshing it in the spring. I already have a list of people I’d like to share it with.

  7. buddy Harris says:

    Blessings my brother!
    Buddy

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