Thursday, November 8, 2012


I was in Court today for a sentencing, thankfully to witness this time, not to defend. A dark spirit filled chamber where seemingly a roll of the dice can

determine who goes home tonight and who, handcuffed, returns to the Monterey jail. Pam accompanied me, just as she did time and time again a dozen years ago. We came because Sara*, 26, asked us to. Via email, her court appointed attorney had relayed the request. As it was, none of her once close family or yesterday’s friends showed up, an experience I knew well enough.

We met Sara two years ago at a mandatory PACT meeting (A community reentry program for parolees). There, roughly two dozen local non-profit agencies tout their services to help ease the painful transition back into the community (job training, shelter availability, counseling, skills development, facilities for food and clothing etc). Of the hundred or so attending Sara alone made a beeline to us. After a 3 year incarceration she was excited but fearful, anticipating her coming out event.

We learned she was a Carmel High graduate, came from a professional family, and had attended Carmel Presbyterian Church. That info more than excited us too. We laid

plans for her reentry, promised support, and pledged to ease her reintroduction back into her community. It never happened. She missed our set appointments. Calls to her family were not returned.

Enter God.

Our ministry, For The Least Of Us, had signed up for Carmel Pres’ recent Worship

in Action outreach event, We pitched the membership to prepare dinners for five to be delivered to our Angel Tree families. Eight stepped forward – one being Sara!

The replies drifted in by mail. Shamefully, I didn’t recognize her name. On D day for the food drop off at the Church parking lot we came up one short. Sara was a no show. Indecisive, it was a coin toss on what to do. But after dialing in the Holy Spirit, I telephoned her. She had forgotten. Having gone through a tedious root

canal procedure the day before, she had confined herself to bed and overslept. How repentant Sara, offering a make up for the following day, week or whenever, and even suggesting substituting some house cleaning, baby sitting, dog walking or whatever. I left reassured we’ll catch her in September at our next event.

Shortly thereafter I awakened to an epiphany. Just happening to be visiting Pacific Grove, I somehow chanced to pick up the PG Bulletin, and surprisingly caught a local tidbit – Sara was back in jail, involved in an accident, caught fleeing and found to be DUI. With God pointing the way, I was to have the privileged opportunity to share the Gospel once more Sara was not joyful to see me. Visitations with inmates are restricted to one hour a week. So fearful of being rejected I had decided to show up unannounced believing the Spirit would sustain the moment. I was wrong; Sara was expecting her brother, a law student, who would be giving her pointers on how to testify. Apologetic, in total embarrassment, I started to leave; compassionate, Sara asked me to stay awhile longer.

I requested she keep in touch, volunteered to testify in her behalf, and suggested her brother call me. It didn’t happen. Once again I was set adrift. Sorrowful it was over I turned to other matters. That is until yesterday’s out of the blue request.

In court, Sara was too self preoccupied to share more than a rare glance towards Pam and me. Hers was one of the last cases to be tried, each more disturbing than the other. One 37 year old stoop farm worker with perfect on the job attendance had been pressured by both the agency and a niece to sign off on a car that titillated the youngster. As might have been ordained, it was now in default, and auntie was arrested. Her attorney did a good job in pleading her case, but it went for naught, and right there in the courtroom she was handcuffed and marched off to jail amidst her silent tears. Pam went over to her attorney to offer a contribution towards payment of her overpowering court fees

Before sentencing Sara, the judge asked if there were any witnesses in her behalf. Surprised at the invitation, and aware I would not forgive myself later if I missed the opportunity, I volunteered. Thereupon I was led to an open area alongside the railing but still considerably distant from the judge. Uncomfortable because I

couldn’t clearly hear his instructions I became additionally flustered. Following a quickie make shift prayer, I asked Him to lead me with my testimony.

I reviewed my contacts with Sara and more significantly hers with me. At each step, just when hope seemed irretrievable, Sara miraculously had come forward. Finally, I explained having made contact with Genesis, a local non-profit providing yearlong intensive residential therapy for those with addictive problems and happily discovered Sara is a suitable candidate for admission for which our ministry can help shepherd.

Thereafter the Judge postponed the sentencing rescheduling to later in the month.

On leaving the courtroom, the case prosecutor caught up with us, giving thanks for our presence, and message. He expressed appreciation both for our activity towards Sara’s successful reentry, and more importantly for making him aware that Sara has made demonstrable her heart has signs of faith and goodness

*Sara is a pseudonym for her given name

Bill and Pam Ziering For The Least Of Us, Inc 26033 Mesa Drive Carmel, CA 93923 831-250-7921

For The Least Of Us”, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit faith-based Christ centered prison ministry (EIN 26-1361229, DLN 17053351309017). Web site:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Gal 6:9)

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