Testimony of Tommy
This is the testimony from a man that can testify that with God all things are possible. I hope that you will be blessed by this story of redemption.
My name is Tommy, and I have been incarcerated in the Alabama Department of Corrections for over 20 years. I grew up in a household that always believed in God. I remember hearing His name all my life, but I never knew Him, or even what His name meant. He just never was real to me; other than praying that mom wouldn’t whip me when I was in trouble.
At a very young age, I began to use and abuse alcohol, and later I became an active user of marijuana and other substances. This led up to 1990, when at twenty years old, I got arrested for Capital Murder and later convicted and sentenced to Life Without Parole for being an accomplice to the crime.
In prison, my dependence on alcohol and other drugs increased. I have an awesome mother, two brothers and a sister who have stood by me through my entire incarceration and my addiction, and I began to see the strain and the pain it was causing them. I tried to stop using on several occasions, but I could not. I tried treatment programs on numerous occasions and would seem to “control” my using but was never able to stop completely.
On April 14, 2004, I got high with another guy, and he went off somewhere to do something and got busted. The next day, an officer got me out of bed and took me and gave me a drug test. On the way back to my cell, I found out who had told on us. I was sitting on my bed plotting on him because I could not explain failing another drug test to my mother, It would break her heart. About that time I heard a voice in my mind saying, “You need to go to Chapel tonight!” I went to the Chapel that night, the first time I ever stepped foot inside the Chapel through all the years that I have been incarcerated. The preacher didn’t even preach that night, but instead just read out of Deuteronomy 32. I went back to my cell and blocked my window off and told God, “I’m sick of my life. If you are really real, reveal yourself to me. I need help!” There was no burning bush, no trumpets or flashing lights, but for the first time in my life I knew that I was talking to God Almighty and He was hearing me. I asked Him to save me right there in that prison cell and He did! I went on to pray, “God, I can do segregation time, I can live anywhere in this prison, but my mother doesn’t deserve any more of my junk. I have hurt her enough over the years. God, I need a miracle.” That weekend I went on the visiting yard and was approached by an officer who said, “They’re keeping you honest, aren’t they?” My mother asked what he was talking about and he told her about the surprise drug test, and added, “He didn’t even register.” There was my miracle! Since then I have not had an urge or even a thought about using alcohol or drugs and that’s been almost 10 years ago. God delivered me!
Shortly after, I got a guitar in the honor dorm that had been broken and glued back together. While in the drug treatment program I learned to play a little, and so I started playing it for some of the other Christians, but I didn’t know any Christian songs. I remember praying and telling God, “I know you gave me this guitar, and I know you gave me the talent to play it. God, I don’t know any Christian songs and I’m ashamed. I need you to give me some songs so I can give this talent back to you,” He hasn’t stopped giving me songs yet!
In 2005, I asked for a job in the Chapel, and I was hired. They don’t hire people with my past to work in the Chapel, but when God saved me, He gave me a whole new start. All things are passed away. He has called me into His service and has blessed me with so many ministry opportunities that my mind can’t even grasp it. God truly is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we are able to ask or think!
In 2008, the Chaplain at the institution had an idea to raise money to help build a new Chapel, which is desperately needed, so I had an opportunity to get some of my songs recorded, along with other members of the praise team here, to be sold and all the money donated to the fund to build a new Chapel. Hunter Street Baptist Church helped oversee the project, and Kevin Derryberry and Joel Bouchillon actually recorded us and produced the CD (“Another Captive Free”). God just continues to bless.
In 2010, after the Haiti disaster, the praise team here had another opportunity to record a CD and it be sold with all the proceeds go to help the people of Haiti. The Alabama Baptist State Board Of Missions oversaw the handling of the funds, along with Pastor Glenn Bynum. It is just amazing how the Lord is able to work and use someone, even in a place like this. Many people think that we have to get out of this place in order to be of service to the Lord, but I have found that He is willing and able to use anyone who will submit to Him no matter where they are.
When I got locked up in 1990, I never saw being a Christian, playing music, writing songs or helping to make CDs. I thought life was all over for me; this is the end of the line. But God … all things truly do work together for the good to those who love the Lord, to those who are called according to His purpose.
I pray that one day He will allow me to be released back into society, but all that is in His hand and in His time. I trust Him to know what is best, but I desire to serve Him with everything I have. I want God to get glory from my life, as well as my gifts and talents.