Copyright © 2016 by Joseph Diop
This is the tell-all. Well, at least, I am about to lay on the table a short version of my tribulations in Dallas, Texas, which I underwent to arrive at this point in my spiritual journey. All subsequent to a holy visitation which I received in 1991, and ordained by God, this is my first-hand account. Truly I have seen the glory of God. And like the apostle Paul, I’ve got the stripes to prove it. Many will doubt, but if you have a faithful heart, you too will see by all this that God is indeed God, and He is always faithful.
To pick up where I left off in the last episode of my story, here is the intermission:
“Little did I know that in a few short years, I was going to have that fateful showdown with the devil play out in real life, on the plain of actual flesh-and-blood events, with the whole world looking on. And, that meeting would comprise my Job-like trial. Then, I would draw the dreaded card which reads, ‘Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass ‘Go.’ Do not collect $200.00.’”
Before I proceed, I want to affirm what the Lord and his apostles teach about tribulation, lest some novice think I had done something wrong to go through such troubles. Beginners always assume that. But, Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation…” (John 16:33). Apostle Paul said, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope…” (Rom 5:3-4). Apostle James said, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (Jas 1:2-4). Apostle Peter said, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1Peter 4:12-13).
It is unanimous then: tribulation is just a natural and integral part of the Christian experience. And, as my long-time pastor used to say, “If you live long enough, trouble will come.” And, man, did mine ever come! It was not as a result of any supposed terrible or hidden sin, as many of my friends had supposed. In my case, there had been false reports circulating about marital infidelity. All those were lies of the devil – just grist for the rumor mill. Because of the false report that had been told to them, those who knew me believed that I was being chastened for sin. But, no such thing had happened, in my case. But, I did have common sin to say grace over. As the scripture says, “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee; our secret sins in the light of thy countenance” (Psalm 90:8). God was looking at the hidden faults OF MY HEART — things that I myself did not even know about at the time — and that was enough for him. God was pruning me down to the bone — to the very core of my being. And, tribulation was his tool.
Dallas was my crucible – a place where I could go through all my necessary trials, away from my family and support system. I had moved there in 1988 on command of the Lord. I had a few short years to get established there then, Wham! First, was a string of encounters with the police. They were initially just domestic calls – squabbles in my household. I was even usually the primary caller. But, I was a slow learner. I had to end up being arrested a few times before I caught on. In those days, the police would not help you, if you were the man. When they got to your house, if you were the male there, it was you who were in trouble. So, I ended up with a few misdemeanors on my record, all from the misguided notion that if there was something going wrong in my house that wasn’t godly, the DPD would help me straighten it out. Boy, was I wrong! And, they would usually charge me with misdemeanor assault. Never mind that they knew full well that I had not actually assaulted anyone.
At the same time, I began what was to be a cycle of episodes of homelessness. This was mainly because my wife and i had a dispute, and she’d ask me to leave, and i had no money at the time, and no where else to go. I remember the first time, when I did have a little money. I had called the police, because we had a certain house guest, who had violated a cardinal rule of my house. When the police came, my wife sided with the guest. So, I had to go. I said, “Wait a minute. I pay the rent here. This person is a non-compliant guest. And, I have to leave?” Yep. So, I had to spend that night in a hotel. I was lucky that night. A few years later, I would be unemployed with no money. Then, I would have to spend the night out under the stars, or in a homeless shelter. I was in the back of a squad car in handcuffs one time early in those years, before I asked the crucial question to the officers. “This is not right,” I said. “Whenever I call you guys for help, you always arrest me.” The officer confessed, “Well, Mr. Diop, it may not be right. But, the judge has ruled that whenever we answer a domestic call, someone needs to leave to keep the situation from escalating. So, since the man is the strongest, the judge said, take him.” Like I said, I was a slow learner. I needed to have it spelled out to me like that.
During my episodes of homelessness, I both learned and personally experienced another great hidden truth. God sovereignly weaves our life’s missions and spiritual growth experiences seamlessly and quietly into the fabric of our personal lives, such that without the ability to see your life through God’s own eyes, the average onlooker does not have a clue as to what God is doing in your life. That’s why Jesus said, “Judge not according to the appearance” (John 7:240). That’s the mistake Job’s friends made. I was right there in my own skin, hearing the voice of God, and trying diligently to follow his every command. And, many was the time I had to ask myself with a perplexed mind and heavy heart, “What’s really goin’ on here?” My longest leg of homelessness lasted two full years. During that time I literally checked into every homeless shelter in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area. But, I was not just down on my luck. These were actually God-ordained missions. I had work to do among the persons experiencing homelessness: teaching, preaching, encouraging, helping, praying, witnessing, communing with them, going through hardship with them, and executing intermittent strategic prayer initiatives.
Before every episode, God would give me a title to that mission, an appropriate scripture passage, a Biblical paradigm, a theme song, and a mission payout. For example, one mission was called “White Siege.” The mission song was “Cat’s in the Cradle,” by Harry Chapin. One mission was called “Philadelphia Freedom,” and its theme song was the one by the same name by Elton John. One mission had as its scriptural prophetic paradigm, “Fire on the Mountains.” Looking casually at my life in Dallas, the popular conclusion might be, “What a train wreck!” And, if you held that opinion, you would be woefully wrong. The Lord had given me a specialty in what the Holy Spirit called the “U3 Ministries,” for: Urban, Underground, and Undercover Missions. At one point, I joined a church in the heart of downtown Dallas, and became a consultant and worker in their ministry to the homeless. I had learned the heart, hopes, and needs of the homeless very well. I had experienced their burdens and heartaches first-hand. Right before God told me to move back to Birmingham after 28 years, He told me I had earned my PhD, for: Perseverance, Help, and Deliverance.
From 1991 to 2008, in all, I was involved in about 20 or so encounters with the police, in none of which was I guilty of having committed a crime. Well, at least, nothing that was a crime on God’s books. My only crime was being a man trying to maintain standards of righteousness and true holiness in my house. Find that hard to believe? Well, let me tell you about the big one – the closest thing to a truly justified arrest. In December of 1991, I experienced a bout with mental illness. You may recall, that’s when I had this great, divine and fiery visitation. I had to take off work six full months on mental disability leave. When I returned to work, I found that the psychiatric drugs I was taking really interfered with my ability to fulfill my duties. So, I got off the medication so I could focus. Everything seemed to go just fine for six full months.
Then, I had what the doctors described as a massive bi-polar attack with psychotic features. The tragedy in this was, I was at home caring for my two small daughters at the time. One was two and a half years, and one, April Yadah, was only 11 weeks old. I was giving a bath to April when it struck. To make a long and sad story short, when I came to my right mind, I noticed that my little girl was having trouble breathing. So, I hurriedly called 911. She was taken to emergency. A couple days later, I was arrested on a charge of felony Injury to a Child. I was facing thirty-five years to life in prison. My bond was a quarter of a million dollars. My face and the sad story was plastered all over the evening news. I was eventually acquitted of those charges with a verdict of Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity, and placed on an involuntary commitment to a State Mental Hospital for treatment, therapy, and evaluation. But, my odyssey was to last almost six years, in which time I was repeatedly shuttled back and forth between the state hospitals and the county jail. In this, my civil rights were repeatedly violated. I was no longer a suspect nor convict, but only a patient. Yet they issued bogus bench warrants and hauled me back to jail every time I had a doctor’s appointment with a court appointed forensic mental health expert. Who ever heard of having to go to jail, just because you have a doctor’s appointment?
Needless to say, this whole thing was a very devastating and trying experience for me and my family. A few days after the beginning of the incident and my arrest, April passed away. She expired in the hospital in my wife’s arms. My wife and family buried April. I could not attend the funeral, being in jail. For a while, I could not believe this was happening to me. I asked the proverbial “Why?” a thousand times. It was a total Twilight Zone experience. In jail, I cried for a whole week. After the seventh day, the Lord spoke to me, and changed my spirit of mourning to a sober attentiveness. He had some serious work for me to do, witnessing and ministering to my fellow inmates. And, this would be my preoccupation for the next number of years, until my release.
I was very busy for the Lord. I started my first church in the County Jail as an inmate. Every soul that came into my tank had the claims of Christ’s gospel presented to them. At one point, 20 out of the 24 men in my tank belonged to my church. It was glorious. We had worship service six days a week. Every evening after chow we had the floor rocking with the glad songs of praise. I was their live-in pastor and spiritual mentor. I had a vibrant jail ministry, and it was an “inside job.” Those men could not have possibly shown me any more honor than if I had stepped into the tank as a visitor wearing a clergy collar and minister’s garb. But, there I stood among them wearing the common white, jail jumpsuit just like them with big, bold, black lettering on the back, which read “Dallas County Jail.” But, that did not stop God’s anointing in my life. And, men were steadily being saved, redeemed, built up, and delivered. My hospital experiences involved a lot of leading Bible studies and disciple-making also. So, the sum of my time in Dallas is this:
I am a living witness that God is God, and that He is God all by himself. It is God who stands behind all the scenes of life: commanding, controlling, orchestrating, resolving, and directing ALL things for his glory and for our good. I have seen, like the old saints used to say, that He will be “a doctor in a sickroom, and a lawyer in a courtroom,” and “He WILL make your enemies your footstool.”
This was my personal and customized version of “great tribulation.” The scripture says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you, and you will glorify me” (Psalm 50:15). But, you need to call upon the Lord BEFORE any such troubles come, because the scripture also says,
23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. 24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no one regarded… 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; 28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me. Proverbs 1:23-24, 26, 28
If you know that now is a good time for you to call on the Lord, if you see the signs of the times, heralding the coming of the end, then please pray the following prayer:
Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now and receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.
Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.
For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000
Lord Jesus, please forgive me for not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from all my sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.
For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000