The following is the testimony of an incarcerated man inside the facility that I serve at.
My grandfather killed himself when my father was 12 years old. Grandpa was a bad alcoholic and had been raging around the house, threatening my Grandma and my dad. My dad talked him down, do Grandpa took my dad into the bedroom and shot himself in front of him. My dad never really recovered. Years of jail and prison, abuse drug abuse and alcoholism, and severe depression. I don’t thing I ever saw my dad when he was not high. When my dad was not in jail, he was often absent, sometimes disappearing for months or even years at a time. No-one knew where he was or what he was doing. I remember driving around town with my Grandma, maybe going to the Wal-Mart or Kentucky Fried Chicken, and just staring out the car window, desperately looking for my dad. Sometimes I thought I saw his car and I would beg my Grandma to stop and see. She never did. Years of abuse and stealing had numbed her. She loved my dad and never turned him away when he came back, but she couldn’t bring herself to look for him.
When I was sixteen, I got hooked on drugs and soon had to start selling to maintain my habit. Drug-dealing is not a safe profession, and so soon after my beginning, I got robbed and fell into debt with my suppliers. A few months later, and I would be arrested for the murder of a drug dealer. My dad came to see me in the juvenile detention center. He promised me he would stick with me. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had a father. He had been through this; he could guide me, protect me. I never saw him again. He killed himself a few days after Christmas.
It is hard to grow up without a father, but even more-so when where you are growing up is prison. When I first got here, I felt so alone. So abandoned. My mother and grandmothers were still with me, but there was an emptiness, a hole, where my father should have been. I had no man to teach me to be a man. About a year after coming to prison, I signed up for a Christian religious retreat. They were feeding nice food, stuff you couldn’t get in prison, so I thought it would make a nice weekend. It changed my life.
“I am not alone.” “I am forgiven.” “The Father loves me.” I had never heard these things before. It touched me so deeply to know that there was a Father, a heavenly Father, who wanted me. Someone who would never turn their back on me, or leave me. That weekend I wrote my mother. “Mom, I love you so much! You have always stood by me. You never left me or abandoned me. You are the best mother in the world. And I want you to know…now I have a Father, too!”
That weekend changed my life. My Father changed my life. Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for the good for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. Some of the things in my life have been so bad, have seemed so terrible, but my Father in heaven has always been looking out for me, making sure it all turned out for my good. He had a plan for me all along. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. Thank you, Father.