My Second Prison Passover- Jim Staley

Picture Credit – Passover Seder 5771 – Shmurah matzah | by Edsel L

Well, we finished our second year Passover Seder here in my new “home” at the Marion Federal Prison Camp. The B.O.P. provided us with a cheap, plastic Seder plate complete with small, shot glass sized plastic dishes filled with all the necessary components of a Seder. We had a 1-2 inch shank bone (I didn’t know there was such a thing as miniature sheep…but apparently there is). We had ground up celery that was labeled “parsley,” salt water (they got that one right), a boiled egg, the most disgusting charoset (we thought might be regurgitated baby food,) a horse-radish root (that was cool) and some potato thing filled with water (don’t even ask, LOL). Oh, and yes, they did give us some boxed matzah and an extra TV dinner for our meal. I ordered a “special dinner” off the Passover menu just to try something different. It was labeled “bone-in chicken with potatoes and carrots.” My “bone-in chicken” was no more than a chicken leg with cheap mashed potatoes and carrots underneath it in a 5×3 inch bowl that looked like something right from Jenny Craig!

BUT…this year was super special. We had twice as many people that have officially changed their status at the prison from Protestant to Messianic, bringing it up to four of us now (Me, Big Wayne, Mike and BL). The fellowship was sweet, the Seder was a blessing, (adapted for captivity), and His presence was tangible. Mike invited his bunky “Doc,” who is a Muslim from Pakistan who used to be a neurosurgeon. He has been asking me bible questions for months now and is trying to learn more about the Bible. He is also the Imam here (like the pastor of the Muslims). He got a very evil eye from other Muslims for coming to our Seder presentation. His response: “If their faith is so weak and they have so much hate that they are threatened by me coming to learn more about Passover in the Bible that we are supposed to read, then that is their problem.” We all laughed. I also invited another Muslim that is really seeking for Truth that used to be Catholic. He is a psychiatrist with four degrees. That makes three drug dealers, two smart Muslims and a pastor in a pear tree (couldn’t resist, sorry.) We had a true mixed multitude.

I know that there are some out there that will say, “You let an uncircumcised Muslim into your Seder?” To those I would say that, first of all, no Passover Seder is a true Seder. They are all presentations. Since the time when the temple was destroyed there is now no Levitical priesthood to carry out the assistance with the lambs. All the feast days are prophetic rehearsals that are simply to point us to Messiah. Second, because this is a memorial feast in the Diaspora, we are to fulfill the heart of Yeshua, which is compassion and love toward our fellow man. He talked with adulterers and ate with tax collectors, all with the intent of bringing them closer to his Father. And third, no one in our group here was willing to volunteer to check at the door to see who was circumcised or not. 😉

In the end, it wasn’t about the Capri Sun grape juice boxes, the cheap plastic Goodwill Seder plate with items so small they would fit on Barbie and Ken’s kitchen table, or the TV dinners for our main course. It was about the simple humility of doing Bible things in Bible ways. It was about “doing THIS in remembrance” of our Savior Yeshua. The Father has once again highlighted to me in a very tangible way that it is not about doing everything “just right” or perfect. It’s about doing the best you can with what you have and where you are at and with what you know. Even though I had tears flowing down my face when I called home to pray with my family during their own Seder, the Spirit blessed our little prison Seder with His presence nonetheless. So we did our best with what we had, and at the end of the service, we lifted our plastic shot glasses filled with Welch’s grape juice and proclaimed, “This year in captivity, next year in freedom!”

Happy Passover!

Thank you Father for sending your Son. Your mercies truly endures forever.


Jim Staley

Some people have asked what they can send to bless Jim. Books are about all he can receive “gift wise.”


*Also important to note: (Rules of the prison)
– Do not send more then 3 books at a time
-Any hardcover books must be directly shipped by the company it’s purchased from, like Amazon
-Always ship USPS

Ship to:

James Staley-41812-044
PO Box 1000
Marion, IL 62959


Gina Butters LaPan – Wow! Very touching. Our family just celebrated our first Passover and we watched your Truth Or Tradition this last week. I wish I would of known about these Holy Days years ago when my children were all still home. I feel horrible, I taught them Pagan Holidays. Lord forgive me! I hope and pray you will be with your family soon.

Brian Lind -I am humbled as I sit here feeding my 6 day old baby and reading about your Passover celebration. This Passover I am trying to humbly share what I am learning with my wife (she isn’t there yet) and my mom who is a very New Testament Christian. Such a good reminder of doing the best we can where we are at.Thank you for the reminder as I get frustrated that I’m the only one in my little circle trying to walk as He did. Patience and prayer will prevail

Stefanie Cornelius -Bless your heart for being faithful to the Father. We are all new in Torah… Your family will see how it gives you peace and changes you. My family (parents & sisters) have been asking questions and I just keep answering to the best of my ability, hoping they’ll see how fulfilled and happy we are trading Truth for Tradition.

Katrina Martin -It is good to know that i am not the only one struggling with the people surrounding me! I”m the only one celebrating Passover and i know i”m doing it wrong. It is hard to do alone.

Brenda Dennis Cherry -That was awesome and incredible to read! It was your Truth or Tradition video that convinced me to do Bible things in Bible ways and give up the pagan practices, may you be blessed in the ministry you have now!

Brandy Reed Graham -So glad you are able to practice your passover, although not in the most ideal places. The point is that you did the best you could with a cheerful heart. Sounds like an adventure within an adventure. Keep your spirits up! Continued prayers for you and your family.

Amy Ames Streeter We had an ex-Muslim seeking for Truth at the Seder I attended too. It was a wonderful experience. Yahweh has sent his Spirit out into the highways and byways inviting anyone and everyone to come.