Joseph is a friend of mine that I met while he was incarcerated inside Belmont Correctional Facility in St. Clairsville, Ohio. The picture above is from Sunday, September 20 2015 when I had the privilege of preaching at his church in Cleveland, Ohio. The following is his testimony.
My biological father cheated on my mom with women, and when my mom found out that my dad was cheating she divorced him. My mom brought me up in a poor city and apartment complex. I was chocked, slapped, beat, and abused by my kindergarten teacher. After months of abuse, my mom finally got out of me why I was so afraid to go to school. My mom, who was an alcoholic, went to the school board and got the teacher fired.
My mom’s third husband, who raised me and my brother, was Atheist/Agnostic. I was raised and preprogrammed to make fun of Christians and people who believe in God.
Growing up as a little boy, I was told by family and friends that I was a good boy. However, I was told that my two year older brother was a problem child and trouble maker. Around the age of eleven my brother often persuaded me to get into minor trouble such as egg houses, break windows, get involved in petty theft, and throw rocks at cars. At the age of fifteen my brother begged me to do illegal drugs with him. I told him no at least fifty times. Then one day he asked me to at least watch him do the drugs and after giving in I said yes. But it was never in my heart to do the drugs I just gave into his pressure. He got me in his bedroom and told me just to take one hit of weed. I told him no but he kept asking me so loud that he woke up my mom and she heard that he was trying to pressure me to do the drugs. I never could understand why she left us alone after smelling the drugs burning and hearing him beg me. Deep inside I wanted her to pull me out of his bedroom because I was afraid of the drugs. Finally, I gave into the pressure of my brother and smoked marijuana. After that first experience with drugs I had a new identity. I was accepted in the world of drug users, plus the void in my heart was temporary filled with drugs. I started doing acid, shrooms, crack a few times and cocaine. I tripped on acid for eight hours non-stop every other day for one year. I burned my arm each time I did acid. I had lighter burns and blisters all over my arm. I started seeing demons everywhere, forgot who I was, I forgot my name, and I lost the ability to speak. My brain was so burnt out I was not able to hold intelligent conversations.
One vivid memory I had of being on acid was the time the drug dealer was high on acid himself, and he was cutting all the paper acid in different shapes. Me and my friends thought the acid could be fake so we all consumed ten whole hits of acid each. I blacked out for awhile then when I became partly aware of what I was doing, I realized I was punching a brick wall. The two friends I had with me tried to pull me away from the wall when they realized my knuckles were all bloody and shredded up.
At the age fifteen I shaved my head bald and got into rap music. I broke into people’s houses, robbed people, stole police cars, took my gun and shot up people’s homes. Finally I broke an old lady’s fingers to get drug money by stealing her purse. The cops found me walking down the side of the road and arrested me. I served one year in the Department of Youth Services where I fought everyday. When I was in the juvenile prison, I went to a Christian church a few times and it made me feel good but I did not understand what it was about and I did not know what was going on. I did not understand what the preaching was about. I remember going back to the jail cell and laying on my bed and this weird powerful presence came into me and it flooded me so much with a vibrating buzzing sensation that I never had experienced before. I had never went to church and I had never read the Bible before other then to smoke drugs out of the Bible pages and mock God believing that he was not real. But somehow I believed the vibration feeling I got had something to do with God. I never told anyone about it and kept it to myself. Even if I wanted to tell someone it was such an amazing and weird thing that happened to me that I wouldn’t even be able to explain it.
After I did the one year of prison, I begged my mom to go to church with me and she took me to a service.The next Sunday I begged my mom again to go to Church with me and she never did. Then I gave up also. I figured if my mom did not want to go there then there was no reason to go anyway. I started hanging around my old friends who wanted me to get back into drugs and I told them no way. One night when I was over at a friend’s house with several men and two girls, a girl began focusing on me. I ignored her but at the end of the night I ended up going to a hotel with her and a few friends and committed fornication. The next day all my friends praised me and worshiped me saying I was a player because she chose me out of all the guys. I quickly built up a reputation of being a player, womanizer, and ladies man.
I was in and out of jail from the age fifteen. I went to four different state prisons. I started taking steroids and selling the steroids making 90% profit on each drug deal. I was the only person in my city who was able to get the drugs. I also held a good job as a union carpenter making $21.00 a hour.
After I was caught cheating on my son’s mom and was kicked out of the house. I moved in with one of the women I used to live with. After three months she got sick of the way I treated her. She asked me one day if I minded if she brought a guy home and I told her you can because I do not love you and we’re not together and you’re free to do as you please. She got very mad because she was hoping I would get jealous and she realized I did not care. After I left the apartment that night she started drinking beer and called the police on me and lied saying that I had raped her. The next day my son’s mom called me on the cell phone and said that the detectives were looking for me and had a warrant for my arrest and that I was accused of raping someone twice. Soon after her call I received another call from a guy identifying himself as a detective saying that he had to speak to me about a rape. He told me he wanted me to meet him at the police station and I told him I would be there in a few minutes. I figured it was just a mistaken identity. I figured as soon as they saw me they would realize they had the wrong person and they just made a mistake with the names. I figured they would let me go and apologize. On the way over to the police station I called all the different women I was having fornication with and asked if any of them knew anything about someone who was mad at me saying I raped them and no one knew anything about it. I called every girl but the girl I lived with because she was obsessed with me and would have done anything for me. When I arrived at the police station they arrested me. I asked them, “who said I raped her?” They said the girl’s name and I was shocked. I said “I live with that girl!” The cops informed me that she had said that I had moved out a month ago. They set my bail at a quarter of a million dollars. I could not believe this was happening to me and I could not believe of all people the girl I lived with did this to me. They told me I had 2 counts of 1st degree felony rape, 2 counts of 2nd degree felony kidnapping, 2 counts of 3rd degree felony intimidation, and 2 counts of 5th degree felony GSI. I was facing 8 felonies and a punishment of 45 years to double life in prison.
After a few months of trying to prove my innocence to everyone I became weary and worn out. My uncle referred a Christian lawyer to me. The Christian lawyer came to visit me to see if I would hire him. He told me that if I gave him my Ford Explorer XLT he would be my lawyer. So I gave him the car for his services. After a few months of the lawyer owning my car I asked him to show me some work that he has done for me. He never showed me any motions that he filed for me or any work. Then I caught him lying to me and when I asked him about the work he filed for me he swore curse words at me. So I fired him and the other lawyer that I had also hired, took all the money in my bank account and ran. I was sitting in jail, facing 45 years to double life in prison with no lawyer and an extensive criminal history. At that point I decided there was no hope for me and I had no reason to live. I lost all my money and material things that I worshiped. The women I had fornicated with turned their back on me. My family was stealing from me and I did not even love myself. I had totally failed at life. I was so sad and depressed I wanted to die. I planned on killing myself. I had so much pain that I could not bare to live another day. I devised a plan of suicide.
The day I planned to kill myself, I was so depressed my face actually was sagging. I had a few minutes before I planned to die and I walked over to a big black older Muslim man. I told him what happened to me. He looked me in my eyes and he said, “I believe you, I believe you did not do what you said you did not do, I believe you’re innocent and you need to fight for your life, fight for your case, and stop taking medicine and get right with God whoever you know him to be.” I heard what he told me but how was I supposed to get right with God because I did not even know if God was real. I was raised to make fun of Christians and if God was real God had to hate me. God would never love someone so bad as me because I had broken an old lady’s fingers, sold drugs, shot peoples homes with my guns, stolen police cars, committed fornication, smoked drugs out of Bible paper, and had 2 babies killed by abortion. If God was real then He hated me.
When I went back to my jail cell determined to kill myself, I slammed the cell door behind me and fell to my knees. After I fell to my knees tears started pouring out of my eyes. I yelled up in the air and said God if you are real you know I did not rape that girl, if you are real you’ll help me right now or I will kill myself. If you help me right now I swear on my life I will serve you the rest of my life. If I do not serve you, you can kill me dead any time. I stood up and saw a Bible that an inmate left behind. I opened up the Bible having never read the Bible or knowing any of the stories and I randomly opened the Bible to Genesis 39: the story of Joseph. When I saw my name in the Bible I was totally amazed and then when I saw how Joseph was falsely accused of rape just like I was and thrown into prison by Potiphar’s wife I was totally shocked. I immediately got goose bumps all over my body.Peace and joy flooded my whole body. I went from pure depression and wanting to kill myself to flooded with joy, love, and peace immediately. Even though I had never experienced this overwhelming sensation of God’s presence before, I just knew in the depths of my heart it was God. I knew God was real in spite of all I did and I knew God loved me and had a plan for me. I was so excited to find out that God was real, that he loved me, and that my hope now was no longer in money or material things but in God. God proved himself to me in so many different ways that he was real. I was so excited and full of joy and peace that God became more important to me then the possibility of doing 45 years in prison to double life because I knew for a fact God would work it out for me.
I forgave those who lied on me and hurt me and asked Jesus to forgive me for all my sins and He did. All my past sins are covered under the holy blood of Jesus Christ. I even forgave myself and I had no more guilt and no more shame. I was flooded with peace, love, joy, hope, and life in Christ.
Shortly after God changed me the girl who said I raped her came to visit me at the jail 8 times (which the jail kept record of), started sending me money, writing me letters, sending me sensual pictures, and tried to drop the charges. However, the state picked them up and said they would put her in prison because she lied so she had to press charges. Also the courts would be liable for a lawsuit for keeping me in jail and being innocent of the charges. All of a sudden the courts offered 6 months. I told them no, I wanted them to totally drop the case. I was mad because how can they think I was guilty of a nasty violent rape and deserved 45 years of prison and then make me a deal of only 6 months just so I can go out and rape more people. I believed they knew I was not guilty and she was lying or they would not give me 6 months. During this time the judge ordered me to be evaluated at a mental institution for competency to stand trial and my grandmother hired another lawyer on my behalf. After 10 months of fighting the case my new lawyer told me just to plea guilty to the felony 4 gross sexual imposition and do the 2 years of prison with time served and move on with your life. My lawyer explained to me even though I had Exhibits A all the way to Exhibit Z there is no guarantee the judge will allow the exhibits of evidence into the trial. My lawyer explained that it is the judge’s discretion and some evidence proving my innocence may not make it to the trial. At that time I was weary of fighting and just gave up and took the new deal.
When I went to prison I did not know the order of my months, I could barely read, I did not know how to multiply or divide. I failed my GED test 3 times but refused to give up until finally I passed it. I read the Bible for 8 hours a day. I went to 9 church services a week and was in the church choir in prison. After I got out of prison I become a deacon for five years at my home church and was licensed and ordained as minister on 12/30/07. Now I am the Pastor of Old Brooklyn Christian Church and also minister at jails, nursing homes, halfway houses, mental institutions, funerals, different churches and on TV and radio. God even allowed me to give my testimony inside a prison in the Philippines and preach in a church in the Philippines. I graduated college as an honors student and made the deans list four times. I am now a dual licensed Optician, with two college degrees. I have not smoked, drank, had fornication, swore, stole, or committed crimes for over 10 years, and it is all because the Holy Ghost gives me power to do everything I do in the name of Jesus Christ. For him I live, move, and have my being.