In prison I have ran into so many charlatans professing to be HOLY. I discovered very quickly the hypocrisy. The sign of a hypocrite is he insults everyone. I’ve seen this over and over. What’s amazingly amusing is the ‘PRO-BLACK’ or ‘PRO ANY RACE’. When they encounter someone of their very race that disagrees with their outlook, their anger turns on those very same people who they claim to identify with the most.

Joe was considerably different. At the time he did not have much but he would readily give it to the needy. There were moments when Joe would have these mini-wars with other religious zealots. I have seen the frustration written all over his face but he calmly waited and once the fanatic completed his idea about a particular scripture, Joe calmly stated: ‘You’re entitled to your own belief, I just don’t see it that way. That’s why I don’t go down to that crooked church house’. Then he calmly walked away. For some reason I took a liking to Joe. Joe took a liking to me as well. He started out talking about California and some case he had fought for a long time. In his own way, he helped me keep my fighting spirit alive and well. He almost never had a negative word to say about anyone, even against those who hated him because of his outlook concerning religious texts. He’d say, he’ll pray for them.


The biggest smiles came when he spoke about his wife who was a mechanic and Mr. Doelas Landes and his wife. To him these people were cherished friends almost on the scale of family love. As he spoke about different aspects of these three people, he would beam with pride. Once the conversation was about to end, he would thank God over and over for the love of these people. I thought it was absolutely wonderful.

Then out of the blue, he offered a religious correspondence class at the World Bible School sponsored by the Church of Christ. Honestly I was wavering. At that point I was coming away from some serious religious dogma’s of my own and diving head first back into religion was something that I had no intention of ever doing. But I accepted the invite. Other inmates followed but they treated Joe like a Jehovah Witness knocking at the door. They agreed to receive the information but never followed through. The only people who were constant were me and a guy named ‘Red’. So coined because of his fire red beard and hair.

A real Christian

Then it happened I met Mr. Doelas Landes. This was in 2014. Through Joe’s beliefs, Mr. Doelas Landes turned out to be everything and some. But this particular piece is not about Mr. Doelas Landes. It concerns Joe and his kindness. Unlike the ‘religious zealots’ who got released and dropped the Bible on the first park bench they came by, Joe went on and continued carrying ‘The Word’ to others he encountered. Now he’s preaching. One of his many goals was to have his own Church … he has done that.

It’s incredibly gratifying to know a real Christian who carried ‘The Word’ out of prison with him and continues edifying others.

I am grateful I have meet Joe.

Derrick L. Griffin 02-11-2021