That's how Willy started his story as we were sharing during the bible study I lead out at the prison.
Having a fan is a big deal. The prison is not air conditioned. And during Texas summers, when the temperatures climb to over 100 degrees for weeks and weeks on end, the prison becomes a stifling sweatbox. Some of the chaplains that teach classes at the prison cancel classes during the summer months because of the heat. It's too much to bear for the two hours of class.
The inmates live with it 24/7. Through the entire summer.
The only relief is a bit air movement provided by a small fan. A fan which costs money. And not everyone has money. Willy didn't. So the gift of a fan, in the middle of summer, was a pretty big deal. A huge, huge relief. A fan can keep you from going crazy during those hot Texas nights with no air conditioning and no windows.
Trouble was the fan was contraband. Prisoners can't give or receive gifts like that. Willy's fan broke the rules.
Still, it was not like he was hurting anyone. The contraband in question wasn't drugs or anything. It was just a fan for goodness' sake.
But one day while studying his bible Willy came across these words, "if you can't be faithful in the little things how can you be trusted with the big things?"
Willy became convicted. The fan broke the rules. It was a little thing, to be sure. But Willy wanted to be faithful, even in the little things. Especially in the little things.
As so, Willy concluded his story, "I threw the fan away."
The room listened in stunned silence. He what? He threw the fan away!? It was barely conceivable, beyond our moral horizons, that someone would be that obedient in the face of the resultant suffering he would have to endure.
"I didn't mind being hot," Willy continued, "I was able to share in the sufferings of Jesus."
Willy looked at me and smiled, gold teeth flashing.
"I was free inside. I was happy."