Since being released from prison ten years ago with only $200 in my pocket, God has done amazing things in my life. With the love and support of my parents, I successful started a drywall installation & finishing company – all to the glory of God. Not only having opened a business, I’ve been raising my son and over six years ago, I married my lovely wife on May 31st.
I am an active member of the Gideon’s International, and am now actively volunteering in prison ministry including visiting with men in the county jails. Once a week, I set aside a day from work to be a volunteer in Lansing Correctional Facility as a mentor and leader of a Bible study program. God has called me to go back into the prison to help the men prepare themselves for release from prison and to take on missionary work.
My wife has also joined me as part of the prison ministry team, serving as a worship leader for the Brothers in Blue weekends. We are both active members of our church – I serve as a deacon and a substitute teacher for our lead pastor’s Sunday School class, and my wife serves on the worship team and works as the church secretary.
Identity in Christ
This BIBR alumni had the world on a string. In his national sales position for a Fortune 100 company, he enjoyed World Series games, professional football tickets, extravagant Canadian fishing trips, and golf at the finest courses. He had a four-bedroom home, a loving wife and two beautiful children.
He says, “I met two business associates at a restaurant to celebrate my promotion to Director of Sales. The celebration lasted longer than it should have and more alcohol was consumed than should have been. I tragically decided to drive home. I can’t recall much, but I now know that I hit a pedestrian – a loving husband and father lost his life. I wish I could change everything that happened that night, but I can’t. I could not bear the pain, guilt and shame for what I had caused. I couldn’t smile or laugh. It hurt too badly. I couldn’t go on, so I asked Jesus to take away the hurt. I gave it all to Jesus. It was no longer my life, but His. Christ took the hurt, suffering, guilt and shame. Even though it wasn’t easy, He was changing me from the inside.
My family and I found a church home prior to my sentencing. The company and job that I had worked so diligently for during my previous 15 years of employment was lost. I was placed on unpaid administrative leave. The only place I felt comfortable was at church. The church offered me a part time position as custodian and I gladly accepted. During these days, I prayed that God would use me and I would ask God, how are you going to work in surprising ways in the midst of these circumstances my family and I were facing. Little did I know how powerfully he would answer those prayers.
I was sentenced to Lansing Correctional Facility’s maximum-security unit. I had traveled back in time – it was the roughest, meanest place I had ever encountered. It wasn’t long that I began to ask God where He wanted me. I felt God nudging me to join the Brothers In Blue Re-Entry program. In the early days of BIBR, they were located in Ellsworth, Kansas – roughly 300 miles from my wife and kids.
It was a much better environment, and I knew this is where God wanted me, even though it was a quite a distance away from my wife and kids. I was now surrounded by men who truly loved the Lord and the difference was unmistakable. I was learning how to apply God’s Word to my life. Christ was with me – He calmed the raging sea of emotions within me and the prison environment that I was in. I learned how to walk with Him; and how to obey Him and His Word.
I was amazed at what I could learn simply by watching and listening to how some of these men in B.I.B. lived their lives. They modeled how to live according to God’s Word. They had complete faith and trust in Christ. They had truly been transformed. I no longer was curious about their past or what it was that landed them in prison. I only saw how God was working in and through them today. God’s hand is all over this reentry program. His work in me and in so many of the men has formed a friendship and bond with during my time in B.I.B. that will last forever.
One of the core scriptures of B.I.B. is Romans 5:18, ‘Being then made free from sin, you became servants of righteousness’. Freedom is something we take for granted. I was shown a new perspective into what freedom really is – if you are in Christ you are free. You are free on the inside. Many times during my letters to loved ones I would share with them my experiences. On numerous occasions, I would share that God had placed me in the best seminary in Kansas – and it was behind bars in the B.I.B.R. program. It was intended to be humorous. But, what makes something funny is the actual truth behind it.
Looking back on the destruction of my actions caused is difficult to do. Striving to see where God is at work in my life and going towards Him is a still a challenge. But, when self-doubt and the pain of the past begins to reappear, I can look to Christ, His Word and the skills I was taught in B.I.B. to overcome. One of the first things we were asked to learn was “My Identity in Christ”. It is this that I often refer to:
My Identity in Christ
Because of Christ’s redemption,
I am a new creation of infinite worth.
I am deeply loved,
I am completely forgiven,
I am fully pleasing,
I am totally accepted by God.
I am absolutely complete in Christ.
When my performance
Reflects my new identity in Christ,
That reflection is dynamically unique. There has never been another person like me
In the history of mankind,
Nor will there ever be.
God has made me an original,
One of a kind, really somebody!
Today, I have a fresh outlook on life and a renewed sense that God is not done with me. My new ministry is my family. We are a family again, with Christ at the center and love abounding. I’m back at work in the industry that I was asked to leave prior to my prison term. ‘Humble’ is a word I use often. For example, “Humbled by my circumstances”, “Humbled by His love for me.” God took my broken life and heart and He transformed it. God has forgiven me of so much. I have learned how to receive His forgiveness and learned how to forgive myself.
I desire to share my journey and show others how God can work in them if they surrender to Him and allow Him to live through them. I pray for my victim’s family and hope that God will give us the right time to reconcile. I want them to know that I am truly sorry, that I made a horrible mistake and ask for their forgiveness.
I was living a very successful life, at least by worldly standards. At age 26, I was the Superintendent for a large builder on the largest project the company had on the east coast. I had a good income and a loving wife, getting ready to start a family. I was flying back to Kansas, from Pennsylvania, to enjoy Christmas vacation with my family and friends. After being up too long and drinking too much alcohol with friends, I decided to get behind the wheel. Tragically, I hit and killed a pedestrian jogging in the roadway and that pedestrian was the father of a friend of mine.
After the accident, I was dealing with depression. Prescribed anti-depression and sleep pills were doing little to ease the pain. After about one month, I decided to take the advice of my uncle and talk to a pastor who he knew that lived close to me in Pennsylvania. This pastor warmly welcomed me and my wife into his home, counseled me, and became one of my best friends and advocates. Although church (mass) was a part of my childhood, it never was a meaningful part. As an adult, I attended church services on rare occasions. However, following the accident and meeting this pastor, church became important to me.
Approximately 6 months following the accident, I had an encounter with Jesus Christ that changed my life. I asked Jesus to take my life and that I was His. Instantly, there was a heavy load lifted off my shoulders and a sense of peace in my life. The Lord was preparing me for what was to come. The court dealings were very difficult. The family that I had known from my childhood were grieving the loss of their father. Wanting and needing to hear, “I’m sorry, please forgive me,” from me, the man who hit and killed their father, instead were forced to be in my presence in my court ordered silence.
As time elapsed, resentment within the family was evident. Some members were even angry. Finally, at my sentencing, 10 months following the accident, I was able to address the family. How difficult and at the same time, relieving, it was to tell the family, “I’m sorry, please forgive me.” I was sentenced to 32 months in prison. I spent the first 6 months in the Norton Correctional Facilities, aka – Norton Christian facility. Although I dreaded first going there because it was 6 hours from my wife, I found that God had wonderful things in store for me. I spent my days working in a Christian Ministry called Wheels for the World and my evenings at Christian callout services.
Norton was great, but I felt led by God to join the Brothers in Blue Reentry (BIBR) program. Transitioning from one facility to the next is one of the most difficult times in prison. Going from the nice facilities of Norton, to the maximum facility at Lansing (aka – Behind the Walls) was a drastic change. The facilities harsh reputation put my family on edge, to the point that they pleaded for me to leave. However, I was comforted by God’s presence and I knew that He had led me there. I am grateful for the BIB program. Being a college educated man; I compare the BIBR curriculum to attending college courses. We had Bible-versed inmates and local volunteers leading Bible studies.
We had a trained counselor who led us in the core curriculum, which included classes dealing with substance abuse, behavioral issues, and growing in Christ. Many of us would often joke that we were in seminary. Although we were joking, there is much truth to that. There were great Christian men in the program. Some of whom are my best friends today. Today, I am working in the same industry and at the same level I was prior to my imprisonment. Now, instead of living life for myself, I live it for Christ. I put Him first and I resolve to be the man he wants me to be. It is quite a paradigm shift from the “me first” life I used to live; my life now has purpose and focus.
I know why I exist and where I will be when I breathe my last. There is no uncertainty as I have the blessed assurances of God as found in His Word. I would like to conclude by telling of some instances where God was at work in my life, specifically with forgiveness. Prior to my accident, I cannot recall ever knowing anyone who had been in a DUI accident that resulted in death, whether a driver or the victim. Now my life has been overwhelmed with people who have had this tragic experience.
First, while at Norton Correctional Facility I became good friends with a guy who let me know that he had lost a sister to a drunk driver. Then, while I was being trained to work at Wheels for the World, the guy who was training me told me about a brother he lost to a drunk driver. Furthermore, I met a guy who had been the driver in an accident that happened to be on the same day and in the same town of my accident. A few months after meeting this man, I became his cellmate. This was all in the first few months of my incarceration.
While at Lansing, I met another BIBR alumni. After talking with him about the accident, I found out that his realtor was the brother of my victim. Wow, God works in mysterious ways! This brother was quick to forgive me. From the start, he let me know this through letters. When I got to the Lansing Correctional Facility, he started visiting me. He was able to talk another brother into coming and visiting with him. I have learned much about forgiveness, especially about asking for forgiveness and being forgiven.
For anyone reading this I hope you can see how God can work miraculously through our worst times and that it often takes complete brokenness for us to realize that we need Him. Hopefully, you already have Him in your heart and are living your life for Him. What a life it is to live! I have been forgiven, I have been set free! Thank you Jesus!
When God was calling me to become a part of the ministry, I didn’t know who I was. Originally, I was located in Hutchinson Correctional Facility and I was immersed in an alternative lifestyle. The spirit told me in my heart, that if I wanted out, BIBR was the way. I signed up for the BIBR program and it must have been destined, because I’ve never seen a transfer approved so quickly.
I was on my way to Ellsworth Correctional Facility within the week. At the time, my reputation was well known in the Department of Corrections, but I was determined to rise above the label. You see, I was serving a 15 year prison sentence for burglaries throughout the State of Kansas. My partner and I went on a crime spree in order to fuel his drug habit. So, even when I was part of the IFI program (now known as Brothers In Blue Reentry), I acted out and was punished both by the program and KDOC. I am very grateful for the men of God that assisted me. They never gave up on me.
In 2006, I was able to go to work release and get a minimum wage job. During this time, I really started to feel and adopt a change in my appearance and in my walk with the Lord. My mentor took me to church every Sunday and always brought me McDonald’s, which was really a treat. Then, the general manager of Spears Restaurant and Pie Shop gave me an opportunity to work there.
As the months went by, he became a Christian friend to me. On top of giving me a job, he also set me up with an apartment for me to live in when I got out, and, after I was released, my mentor brought a car to me that he wasn’t using. He insisted that the Lord was telling him to give me the car. My parents had a lot of things for my new apartment that they put back for me during the years I was incarcerated. So, I was blessed with an apartment, car, and the money I had saved. It was fun, yet scary.
I really had to rely on God because I was a New Creation. I knew that it would not be an easy task. I started going to the St. Mark Men’s Group and was surprised to see the support by the men in the group. We started to develop a Godly friendship. I continued to work daily and the years went by. I started to feel a deep loneliness, so I spent a lot of time asking God for direction in my life.
With a lot of patience, accountability, and my support group, I was given an opportunity to start a ministry outreach through Word of Life Church. I started classes at Butler Community College, as well. I look back at my life, from the time I joined the ministry to now. I am so grateful for where the Lord has brought me in my life. I was blessed with a beautiful lady who shares the desire to serve in the ministry with me. We were married on November 3rd, 2012. I thank the Lord for her daily as she accepts my past. We look forward to the many things that God has in store for us together.