I've Been Born Again

April, 1979
1979 Visit, Volume 1 Number 2

A new public affairs cable network called C-Span began broadcasting the U.S. House of Representatives live on television. Israel and Egypt signed a mutual peace treaty. Margaret Thatcher was sworn in as England's first female prime minister. The Sioux Indians were paid $105 million in compensation for the 1877 seizure by the U.S. government of Sioux lands in the Black Hills of South Dakota. And in Los Angeles, California, actor John Wayne died at the age of 72.

Almost ten years after the first issue of the Hollywood Free Paper rolled off the presses, God provided the means to print another issue of Visit, to be distributed for free to inmates through the chaplaincy programs of more than 270 prisons, jails and juvenile halls across the United States.

"After all the con games of prison had burned themselves out," our friend Steve wrote from his cell in the federal penitentiary at Lompoc, California, "I found the truth I had been searching for so long. I tried hard to believe that my rebellion was justified, but I was only lying to myself." Steve and five other inmates had been baptized by our editor Duane Pederson in a bathtub in the prison hospital. The setting was makeshift and not what we might have preferred, but as the Ethiopian man said to Peter on the road to Gaza, "here is water, what prevents me from being baptized right now?"

We printed the stories of each of the men baptized that day, along with photographs of Duane "dunking" each man in the hospital bathtub for his baptism. One wrote about robbing his victim at knifepoint for "a lousy 12 bucks." Another told of going from serving in the Marine Corps to robbing banks. The one common thread in all six stories was their encounter with Jesus that turned their lives around and made all the difference.

The photo at right shows Duane with evangelist Corrie Ten Boom on Geary Street in downtown San Francisco. The photo at lower right is of Duane with a beard and a new suit at the entrance to the infamous San Quentin state prison in California.

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