From Prisoner to Pastor

I was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Both my parents were heavily involved with drugs and alcohol. When I was younger, my mom took us to church but that soon ended. So did my parents’ marriage.

After they divorced, I stayed with my mom who constantly changed jobs and boyfriends, moving us from home to home. I never felt grounded or secure. I remember being abused and frequently called worthless.

I began smoking and drinking at age 11, and continued abusing substances through grade school. I was kicked out of high school my sophomore year and left home at the age of 16. I spent the nights anywhere other than my mom’s place. I ended up living in some very bad places, among the worst kind of people.

By my 21st birthday, I was in Denver, Colorado. My life was reaching the pinnacle of addiction, depression, and violence. I despised myself and any person who appeared to have a better life than I did. Consumed by so much hate and self-loathing, I would often get in fights just to feel something other than my own existence. I tried killing myself on several occasions—always ending in failed attempts. I was out of control.

At a party one night, I shot a full clip of ammunition into the car of someone I thought had stolen from me. I was duly arrested and prosecuted for two counts of attempted murder.

There I was—21 and facing up to 72 years in prison. I had no hope, no friends, and no family. However, there in my jail cell, I saw a Gideon-placed Bible. I had never read a Bible before. As I opened it up to the book of Matthew, I learned about Jesus and His love.

Matthew Chapter 5, verse 4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” I had never felt comfort, peace, or true love in my life. So I prayed for the first time and asked God to let me taste these things before my life was over.

In that moment, I felt the Father’s arms wrap me up and His love burned so hot through me I began to weep from my very soul. I was forever changed in one instant. I vowed to follow God and His love and to give my life to Him no matter what the rest of my life would bring.

I was incarcerated for nine months. During that time I went to addictions classes, continued my education, and earned my GED. I awaited my sentencing without an attorney. I only had Jesus. By the grace of God, I was sentenced to four years of probation and released the very next day. I was a free man.

After my release, I completed a year-long intensive program to aid my progress in resolving my addictions. I continued to feed my soul with the knowledge of Christ.

Today, I am a licensed pastor in Colorado with Teen Challenge. And I am newly married. In just a few short years, my life has been transformed from one of pain and suffering to a life of joy and service to the King. I daily thank God and His unrelenting love to call out my name in that jail cell and speak truth to me through His Word.

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