Hello everyone, my name is Les Castro and I am the founder of Faithful Friend.
Mom used to say, “Nothing breeds success like success”.
Ayla was such a big hit with the youth camp kids we went on to visit lots more, even incarcerated teenagers. For many reasons it is not easy to visit juveniles in prison. In fact, it took a year to get permission to have access at all because rules mandated no dogs were allowed. Before we could present the Gospel our demonstration of obedience would be keenly tested. When we finally received our state’s approval to go see incarcerated youth we were turned away at the front gate.
Most juvenile prison facilities called, “State Schools”, have a front entrance manned by Juvenile Correctional Officers who screen everyone who comes in. The school superintendent had seen my large German shepherd in the parking lot and radioed the front entrance to turn us away. The possible benefit of allowing a dog verses the possibility of a big dog like Ayla biting someone couldn’t be worth the risk.
Funny how God works things out though. All I could do was leave Ayla out in our van with a huge bowl of water and all the doors and windows left open. Volunteers checked in at 8 AM and Ayla stayed put until I checked on her at noon. The front guards speculated on how long Ayla would stay in the van and radioed the superintendent about Ayla’s extraordinary obedience staying there for so many hours. After taking care of Ayla and commanding her to once again stay in the van, I was greeted at the front door by the superintendent. He wanted to know what I intended to do with my dog.
I gave him a demonstration of Ayla following the “stay” command described in Part 1 of this episode series.
That message was made doubly clear by Ayla’s obedience that morning. Many times when I do presentations opportunities to make a new point comes up. It was easy then to add that integrity is proven when obedience is demonstrated even when no one is looking. But, there had been eyes on her and her diligence earned us the opportunity to go in. Still, the superintendent stayed with us to see how the kids would respond.
News of a dog on campus spread like wildfire. A request came to the superintendent to have us come over to “Segregation” which is really just solitary confinement. In this prison the cells there had three concrete block walls with a front wall of steel bars. A bunk took up half the space and came close to the front bars. The cells faced one another down a short hallway. If the kids sat on the end of their beds and pressed their faces up to the bars they were able to watch the show.
One very rough 16 year old was there for trying to kill another inmate. He was so hardened at such a young age. It took us quite by surprise when he asked very politely, “Mr. may I please pet your dog?” He hadn’t been able to pet one in years. The superintendent flashed a concerned look at me and I just said, “it would be OK.”
I gave Ayla a hand signal to go over to the young man as he reached out through the bars to pet her. He softly stroked her while big tears ran down his face and Ayla gently licked those tears away. One can talk about God’s unconditional love but leave it to a dog to profoundly demonstrate it.
In Proverbs 3:5 & 6 it says:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
I couldn’t know what Jesus had in store for Ayla and me but I trusted He could bring about miracles. The superintendent got to see some incredible things happen and he didn’t just keep it to himself. He broadcast to other facilities across Texas what he had witnessed.
By submitting to God my all, even my dog, I received a straight path to incarcerated youth for decades to come. A lot of times our direction seems anything but straight. But, I have found it always leads just to where God wants and at exactly the time God wants it to happen.