Once Lost, Forever Found

 This testimony was written by a young man that has become a pillar in our Christian community inside the prison that I serve in. Evan is currently helping me facilitate one of my weekly classes. May this following testimony written in his own words bless you.

I am 24 years old and I have Life Without Parole. I’ve been incarcerated since I was 14.I was in a detention center waiting on the juvenile court to certify my case to the Circuit Court when God showered me with love, a love I’ve never known and a fullness of life.

You see, most of my life I grew up locked up. I wasn’t one of those kids who came in and out repeatedly. When I was 14 I was involved in a man’s death that was more accidental than purposeful. It ended my time in the “free-world”. I sat in a holding facility just wanting to die because I never thought I could be involved in something like this. I was a problem child, but this was serious! My family would come see me occasionally but they lost hope along the way, as I did. My father, who was abusive when I was a child, thought I got what I deserved. He wrote that to me in the only letter he’s ever written to me in ten years. The rest of my family was ashamed and so was I. I had committed murder; Capital Murder at that. I felt rotten, like scum and my life was over as far as I was concerned. In the detention center I watched people come and go and visit their families. I wasn’t bitter towards them, I just felt alone and lost. Of course, this is how I have always felt, only now it was intense. I had attempted suicide when I was younger, and so I made another attempt with more seriousness this time. But God! He had His hand on me and I believe strategically let me face my dilemma in that facility.

The Tennessee Juvenile Detention Center had many great churches that came in and out of there, that really cared and faithfully preached the gospel. I can remember raising my hand to get saved over 15 times and I would feel okay for a couple of hours and would tell myself, “Well, Evan, you’re saved now”, but Satan always had a way of making me feel like I wasn’t good enough for God and His Word. I felt so down sometimes that I was scared to touch a Bible.

One day I had gotten into an argument with a staff member and I pretty much solidified some time in solitary back in my cell, which was not uncommon for me. I always disliked how your smallest freedom and liberties are stripped from you, like speaking your mind. But on my way to solitary I was breaking down on the inside and I was wishing I was dead then and there in that moment. In my cell I started to cry uncontrollably and ask God, “What can I do God? How can I stop this pain?”  I remembered a song that a man wrote about a scripture in the Bible: “As far as the east is from the west, that’s how far God has removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12) He goes on to sing, “As far as the eye can see, that’s how far He has removed transgressions from us”. Well I forgot the words at this point and just started singing my own words to the tune, simultaneously pouring my heart out to God asking for His love, His forgiveness, His grace, “I just need you God” I sang over and over. Almost on cue, the door to my block came open and the staff member told me to get ready to go back to population. The staff member didn’t know why I was getting out, but I was being freed from solitary. Thank God! It was small , it was humble, but it was a miracle that my whole being knew God had just done for me. In Psalm 102:20 God said, He would hear my groaning and loose those appointed to death. Boy, did He loose me! I remember a flood of warmth coming over me, and tears falling to that concrete floor as God filled me up with love. My cup flowed over that day. From that point forward, staff members and people that knew me said, “Evan’s got the Spirit” That was almost nine years ago. Yes, I’ve failed and stumbled and felt distant from God, but He keeps proving Himself to me which lets me know one thing. I’m forever found!

 

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