Four days after we arrived at the brig in Rota, Spain, an incident occurred in town that would affect the five of us Christian Marines in amazing ways. A sailor was shot in the stomach with a .45. He was losing a lot of blood and needed donors––donors that were type A-positive. Like me.
It was late, almost lights out in the brig, when one of the guards on duty called out the four prisoners in the brig who had Type A-positive blood: myself, another prisoner whose name I can’t remember, Sixto Molina (one of the five Christian Marines from Naples), and Peewee. All four of us were “volunteered” to give blood that night.
The guard marched us over to the Dispensary where we were told to sit in the waiting area until the corpsman called us. Peewee was sitting across from Sixto and me. Immediately Peewee started digging at us because of our Christian faith. He’d read our story in the Stars and Stripes newspaper––“Bible Totin’ Marines Sentenced to Brig”––and knew that we were coming to the brig in Rota. He was waiting for us. He began to mock us, not for standing up for our beliefs but for having those beliefs in the first place. To his way of thinking, Christianity was a myth. Christians were idiots and hypocrites. I’d heard the drill before, mostly coming from my own mouth, a few months earlier.
I started sharing the gospel with him as best I knew how, giving him some R&R (Romans and Revelation). However, the more I explained the gospel the louder Peewee objected and mocked. He was filled with a hatred for God and Christians. The louder he mocked the more passionate and persistent I became, so much so that others in the waiting area began looking in our direction. I’m surprised the guard didn’t tell us to shut up.
Finally, the corpsman came out and said that he only needed two of us to give blood––me and the prisoner whose name I don’t recall. We were the two biggest guys. He told Sixto, who was of a smaller stature, and Peewee, who didn’t get his nickname for being a body builder, to go back to the brig.
Surprisingly, Peewee flew into a rage. He protested almost violently. Apparently the man shot in town was a friend of his, and he wanted to give him blood. He demanded it, in fact.
The corpsman told the guard to remove him without further delay. Sixto and Peewee were escorted back to the brig. This other prisoner and I were called into the corpsman’s room and told to sit down and wait our turn to give blood.
What I didn’t know at the time was that the Holy Spirit had been doing some heavy work in Peewee’s life. Hearing the gospel that night had touched some spiritual nerves. Unbeknownst to me or anyone else, after he was locked in his cell, he prayed a bold prayer: “God, if you’re real, I want to give blood to my friend tonight.”
Meanwhile, back at the Dispensary, I was sitting with a rubber tube tied around my arm with the corpsman about ready to insert a needle into my vein. Suddenly it occurred to me that I’d recently had a battery of shots in order to travel from Naples, Italy, to Rota. I told the corpsman this little detail. He cussed me profusely (you’re allowed to do that to prisoners, apparently). I told him that Sixto also had that same battery of shots. The corpsman, again using well-chosen expletives, told me to back to the brig and get that loudmouth Peewee.
You can see where this is going.
When I went into the brig I told the guard what had happened, and then I told Peewee to get dressed. They wanted him to give blood instead of me! Peewee came unhinged. He jumped onto the bars like an ape at the zoo and began shouting: “I just prayed that prayer! I just prayed that prayer! I just prayed that prayer!”
I was dumbfounded. It was truly amazing.
What’s even more amazing is that Peewee was discharged from the brig the very next day. I never saw him again. But we heard that the night he was discharged he was in a bar in town, standing on top of a table, shouting to everyone what had happened. He was witnessing to the power of God and answered prayers.
I don’t know what became of Peewee. I don’t know if he became a Christian. I do know that a mocker prayed an audacious prayer, a prayer that God graciously answered. Peewee gave his blood to save his friend from death, to give him life. Jesus gave His blood to save sinners like Peewee from eternal death, and give us eternal life. Let’s shout it from the rooftops like Peewee did.
Next blog – the Strong Man