Prison Angels: We know that mankind is capable of some of the most horrible sins and crimes against their fellowmen. In the 21st century the ugliness of man’s sins continue to streak across our TV screens week in and week out. The Bible, from practically day one, reveals the fallen nature of man in all of its ugliness as it shows that Cain, the firstborn son of Adam, murdered his brother Abel because of jealousy. The prophet Jeremiah said it correctly when he said, “The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV). And yet, the Lord Jesus Christ as He was being crucified on the Cross, having two condemned men hanging on the right and left of Him, gave opportunity for them to place their faith in Him before their death. One did, one did not. It didn’t matter their crime, their religion or their good works. All that mattered was where was their faith. Was it in the Son of God or was it not?
Chuck Colson (pictured above), after serving his time in prison, became a Prison Angel and went back there to do what Jesus did, give fallen men the opportunity to turn from their sins and trust Jesus for forgiveness and find new life, eternal life. The chaplains in the time of the Blue Eyed Six did the same thing. The accounts of the chaplains endeavoring to encourage and reach the souls of the prisoners is heart warming. They began their work as soon as the men were incarcerated and continued it right up onto the gallows. They were there in love and mercy doing the work of Jesus in order that the free gift of salvation could be received by the condemned men. It would be up to each prisoner to receive the grace and forgiveness of God, humbling themselves in true repentance and as it were casting themselves at the foot of the Cross where they could by faith find forgiveness and trust in the Savior for eternal life. Did they become true believers? You be the judge as you read the accounts of the work of the Prison Angels and the responses of Drews and Stichler.
THE EXCECUTIONS of DREWS and STICHLER: (from the “Blue Eyed Six” by Wayne H. Anspach) When the day arrived, at about 9 o’clock in the morning, four ministers of the Gospel entered the jail. The corridor resounded with the echo of prayer and praise first in the cell of each man alone. In Stichler’s cell the holy sacrament of communion was administered and afterward Stichler offered up a very fervent prayer manifesting full consciousness of his condition and showing a peaceful frame of mind. While this was going on Drews had gone to visit his other companions and gave them a final farewell. When he came to the “squealer” Henry Wise, he expressed his discontent at what Wise had done, but nevertheless he spoke the words to him, “I forgive you.”
After this, solemn and impressive services were held in Drews cell, both the condemned men being present with the addition of another minister. Here prayer and praise worship continued from about 10 o’clock to the arrival of the sheriff who announced all was in readiness for the execution. They sang the songs “Grace Be With You”, “Soon Be Over There” with others calculated to inspire thoughts of the other world. Drews and Stichler joined heartily in these impressive services. At 10:45 a loud voice rang through the corridor, intended as a general notice to prepare for the execution. The service ended with one of Moody and Sankey’s hymns about trial and temptation, the sentiment of which was explosive and the effect apparent. The sheriff got them ready to move and while the procession was being formed they all sang, “O Lamb of God, I come” (today’s hymn “Just As I Am”) and the march to the gallows was begun, with the sheriff and his deputy at the head and two ministers walking in front of the inmates and three behind them with one reading an invocation and the prisoners repeated each line as they walked. Ascending the steps of the platform the condemned men stood for a few moments with hands folded and showing no signs of fear. More service were conducted as a minister read the 14th chapter of Job as a light rain began to fall.
Stichler continued to mutter silent prayers invoking the grace and mercy of the High Court above. Another hymn was read and the two prisoners joined in singing. Another prayer was offered as Drews and Stichler knelt on the platform with their eyes looking heavenward with Stichler’s fixed gaze as if seeking to penetrate the veil of the future. It was a scene long to be remembered and visibly affected many who stood by. The court-house clock struck the hour of eleven as they all joined in repeating the Lord’s Prayer. To close the service a minister read the hymn, “A Fountain Filled With Blood from Emanuel’s Veins”. (LOBO COMMENT: As a worship leader, I believe this was a powerful worship service. The hymn they used to close is one of my all time favorites, known today as “There Is A Fountain”. Here are just a portion of the powerful words: “There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains. The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day, And there may I so vile as he wash all my sins away.” )
Drews and Stichler’s legs and arms were pinioned by stout straps. Stichler, who was the last one bound, being engaged in silent prayer all the while. The rope was first adjusted around Drews’ neck and the white cap drawn over his head, and as they were performing the same operation on Stichler, Drews cried out, “Frank, now we go to heaven, now let go, oh, Father, help.” Both men trembled all over like Aspen leaves for a moment before the fatal blow was struck and they shot through the trap launching them into eternity. Neither struggled except a slight drawing up of the feet of Stichler. Their bodies were placed in very plain coffins, furnished by the Directors of the Poor. Drews was buried in the military section of the Mt. Lebanon Cemetery and Stichler in his mother’s garden in the backyard of his father’s house in Indiantown Gap.
NEXT UP: The end of Brandt, Hummel & Wise!
THE BIBLE: For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light. For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. And He said to me, It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. (Psalm 36:9; Revelation 7:17; 21:6 NKJV)