The following is an edited account of Joe Wolfe’s transformation from criminal to prison ministry founder. Joe gave me permission to edit and reprint it, and if you'd like to find out more about Joe and his book The Five Signs, you can go to the website below.
Joe sends books related to A Course in Miracles to prisons, and his ministry has grown beyond his expectations. The requests are overwhelming, so donations for mailings are greatly appreciated. You can donate at http://www.spiritlightoutreach.org/.
It was 1974 and I was twenty-four years of age at the time. My own history up to that point was one like so many stories of a young street thug, growing up in a working class
neighborhood, discouraged and disillusioned by the mediocrity and grind of what life had to offer. Chicago
That there had to be something better was always a predominating thought. So 'better' for me, was the excitement and the radical comradity of our little clique of thugs, always plotting, always stealing, always looking for that thrill. So when those activities resulted in my first arrests, confinement in juvenile punishment facilities and finally in a ten year prison sentence (the big time), I was brought to a juncture. The underlying conviction that there had to be something better still remained but now (after the experience I'll describe below) that something would take on an entirely new and remarkable definition.
So at twenty-four and while wallowing in the misery of prison life this is what occurred that would lead to forever changing the way I would perceive the world:
The real Me...The I...The Essence of Who and Where I AM emerged for just a few short minutes one summer afternoon after an entire sleepless night of worry and immense fear over the possibility that I might be killed the following day. For the first time in many years I turned to the God I perceived and I prayed for deliverance. I begged and prayed for many hours with fever and intensity never before offered. 'He' answered...'He' delivered me. And for a few brief moments 'He' lifted Me from the body and embraced Me as a loving Father does His Son and assured Me once again, that I would be alright.
While the body lay on the prison cell cot below, the awareness of "I" expanded to include every molecule of air around Me... every feature, the sunlight that streamed through the barred window, the trees and grass outside, the room itself...everything was Me.
Now, many years later, and after much search, many books, and after the message of Forgiveness as gently prescribed in A Course in Miracles, I came to realize that the 'person' who searched would never find the answers. That person, a product of the same thought system that created him, would seek and never find because he was simply in the way. His beliefs, his concepts and ascribed personage blocked the very awareness of that which he sought. He had to get out of his own way first. He had to surrender his own image of who he thought he was before any Real knowledge could enter. The little self had to be first seen for what it really was, then sacrificed (for lack of a better word) to make room for something much bigger.
Today, almost every day this writer visits the local post office to deliver copies of the original edition of A Course in Miracles [donated by Course in Miracles Society] along with an easy to comprehend introduction to The Course, as made available through the text version of Gary R. Renard’s The End of Reincarnation, to lists of prisoners who have expressed the desire to learn more about the Course. With the text version is a brief essay describing what is referred to as The Five Signs, five mystical experiences during this life which began at the age of three and culminated with the experience described above. This experience led to adopting a practical application of the spiritual discipline taught in A Course in Miracles.