My testimony is like so many other behind these walls. Some even in society could identify with our testimonies. We all have our weaknesses, challenges & failures. We all have gone astray much like the prodigal son. Though our stories stem from the same source of chaos known as the devil and his lies, our stories are yet unique. Our stories are success stories in a seemingly story of one failure after the next. I write this as a man who has nothing to boast of or to be proud of other then that of God.
I killed a man who was a friend of mine at the age of sixteen. The story is that I was told by a thirty-six year old man to go out and kill someone for gang rank. Though it came out that I was not a gang member, the story I suppose still sticks. Everyone ( including myself) would have never believed that I would shoot someone, My case was an accident. Nevertheless that was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Though I know that I am a new creature in Christ, I still have a hard time forgiving myself for what I have done, the pain I have caused to so many others, The ending of another’s dreams and hopes. Forgiveness doesn’t come easy. Christ had to suffer endless hours of beatings and pain to bring forgiveness to mankind.
As a child I had always prayed and talked with God as if he were right in front of me. Sometime along the path of childhood I found a false sense of independence. I began to think I knew best. The greatest thing I lost in growing up was my sense of dependence on God. Such as when a storm came I would seek God to keep us all safe. When I got older I no longer paid much attention to the storm. As a man I now am relearning to have that dependence on God once again.
I grew up in a military family. We moved constantly. I have no childhood friends because of our constant movement. Each time I would have to readjust, seek ways to fit in. I wanted popularity, acceptance, etc that eventually led to doing drugs, going to crazy parties, stealing cars, all just to fit in, to be held in high esteem by my peers. My parents were both in the medical field, Because of their long hours of work I had a lot of free time I would make bad use of such times, I would throw parties or go out and do whatever, I had never officially been in trouble before with the law, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t do stuff to go to jail before hand. I was a stupid, stupid teenager. I look back in disgust on my past, I had so much promise and threw it all away. But even if I had succeeded and I didn’t know God I was still doomed anyway.
I didn’t immediately come to God after being locked up because I was so resentful at God. When I shot the gun that terrible night I was in a car when I did it. I got out of the car and got into another car with a couple of girls. One of the girls asked” what happened back there, I think someone got shot”. I began to cry, pray and beg that no one would be hurt. I got home and my mother told me that some friends of mine came over and said that a friend of mine just got shot. I was later arrested and while in county jail waiting for trial I begged God for a chance to get out one day or to give me the death penalty, anything but life without parole. I received life without parole. I wanted to die, I began to cuss God and declare my great hate for Him. I begged for death over and over again. I began to learn witchcraft and Alister Crowley’s version of Satanism. ‘persecuted Christians in here. I would call them names and talk about how stupid they were. I began to study evolution so that I could use that to show that God didn’t make us. I would also educate myself in psychotherapy (Sigmund Freud) to challenge these Christians. I hated God so much. Then one day someone told me that I didn’t hate God, I laughed, He said” you would be glad to be hit by a bold of lightening as long as you know God was listening to you”. He further said that I just want to know if God ever heard me or cared for me. When I laid down that night I knew he was right. I was like a child who blamed his parents for every thing that was going wrong in fife and I threw a temper tantrum just the same. The truth was that I wanted God in my life but I was too afraid because I didn’t know if I could depend on Him. If I could trust him. I had to learn to forgive myself and I had to learn to forgive Him. I know that sounds strange but I did. Since then it has been a constantly developing relationship. It’s a love affair. I have fallen in love with Him. I am no longer bitter or extremely resentful toward myself. As I have said I am still in the process of forgiving myself for my crime. I have a sense of purpose and hope in my life. I finally have direction. Where there is lack of vision the people will surely perish. Also I have had to learn to stop being so selfish. I still struggle here, but I was privileged to be able to work on hospice for a long time and give back to life. I watched many men wither away and die in here. It is a sad thing to watch men die in here. But I am grateful to have been able to take care of them before they did die.
I have learned in my few years in life that dependence on God is the greatest of gifts we receive, where we have a daddy who is so intimate, so caring that He wants to be a part of every aspect of our lives. We become like children who before we do anything we look to make sure daddy is there to protect us and watch over us, to provide us with all that we need. He has taken good care of me since my incarceration. A sixteen year old in prison has no chance. He has protected me from men who have tried to kill me and much, much more. Then He gave me a great gift in being able to play music for Him. I have always loved music. I used to play a little when I was a kid, but smoking pot caused me to stop. Loving God caused me to play. God is a blessing and He loves to bless. I am still growing in Him, I’m sure it’s a lifetime process. What I find ironic is that it is actually a fun process. I conclude by saying thank you God for second and third chances, for never giving up on me and loving me even when I didn’t love myself.