I remember the first time God led me to write to Victorious Living. My story of hope was published in Issue 1, 2017. I told how I had been bound in addiction since childhood and how juvenile centers, rehabs, and county jail sentences had failed to change my life.
Seven years into my 11-year prison sentence, I was worse off than ever, and it seemed there was no hope in turning my life around. That is, until the night God whispered to my heart, “How long are you going to run from Me?”
I was so tired of running. I had tried doing everything my way, and the results were disastrous. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (NIV). So I finally decided to try it God’s way, and surrendered my life to Christ.
Placing my faith in Him will always be the most significant decision I have ever made. The love of Christ broke the chains of addiction that had held me so long. I went from chasing and selling dope to embracing the hope that is found in Christ. The love of God filled the emptiness in my heart and made me a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). I no longer delighted in the things of the world—God worked in me and changed my desires (Philippians 2:13).
The Word of God says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 NIV). Now that doesn’t mean God will give us everything we want. It means He will place His desires within us, and He will bring them to fruition. I witnessed this truth firsthand.
I began to long for a godly wife and for God to lead me into His calling. I declared His promises over my situation and desires, even though they seemed impossible. Mark 9:23 says, “everything is possible for one who believes” (NIV), so I did. Incredibly, He led my wife to me while I was still behind bars, and we were married.
She and her two daughters eventually moved to the county where I was located. We spent the next few years, by phone and visitation, building relationships with one another. Our bond became unbreakable because we made Christ our foundation.
During this time, I was given the chance to speak in the prison chapel. I was terrified of public speaking, but in those few minutes, God’s desire for me to proclaim the Gospel began to burn within my heart. It wasn’t long before the chaplaincy department gave me a weekly service to minister to other inmates.
God has blessed me greatly, but please understand that the journey hasn’t been easy. Obstacles have come, but with God’s help, I’ve persevered. Temptations have come too, but God has made a way for me to escape every one (1 Corinthians 10:13). And then there’s the persecution. People have mocked me for what they assumed was jailhouse religion. They predicted I would throw my Bible down as soon as I walked out the prison gate. But praise God, I didn’t.
I look back now, and I am so grateful that I didn’t let the naysayers and the enemy of my soul rob me of my trust in God and the dreams He had placed in me. I didn’t let their lies rent space in my head; the battlefield of faith is in the mind.
Instead of listening to the voices of the enemy and other people, I chose to take God at His Word. I meditated on His promises day and night and discovered His character and power. I reasoned if He could speak galaxies into existence, part seas, and command the dead to come back to life, then what could possibly be too big for Him to handle in my life? Despite all my fears and doubts, I chose to trust Him.
I’ll be honest—this became difficult as my release date approached. Fear, doubt, and worry tried to deflate my confidence in the Lord. There I was, a 40-time convicted felon. I had spent what I thought were the best years of my life in prison. I was being released with no money, job, vehicle, or license. Furthermore, the court had ordered me to complete drug counseling, DUI classes, and pay a $50,000 fine for my drug-trafficking case.
And if that weren’t enough to overwhelm and fill me with fear, I was also walking out as a husband and father for the first time. Three other people were depending upon me to love, guide, and provide for them. I had made them countless promises, and I certainly planned to keep each one. But humanly speaking, the deck was stacked against me.
Well, it has been almost three years since I walked out of prison into the loving arms of my wife and daughters. And I am here to testify that God has met my every need, and He has even given me my heart’s desires. That’s why I felt led to contact Victorious Living again. I wanted to encourage others who are facing great odds. I want to encourage you.
My story is proof that God’s love is faithful and that Romans 8:31 is true. It says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (NIV). The answer is no one!
Statistically, I was destined to relapse into my addiction and return to prison. But I chose to trust John 8:36 that says, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (NIV). I had a record that would cause most employers to overlook me for employment, but I focused on Hebrews 10:17 that says, “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more” (NIV). Many people would reject me, but I rested in the truth that I had been adopted into God’s family (Ephesians 1:5–6). No matter what the odds, my future was secure in His hands.
I am here to tell you, your life matters to God, and nothing can hold you back from the plans He has for you. He will move you forward in His perfect timing and way. The day I stepped out of prison, God’s plan was already in motion. He had already arranged for me to preach in a church the day after my release. A video from my first service went out on social media, and that opened doors for me to speak in other churches.
So many opportunities came that I thought for sure I was going directly into full-time ministry, but I soon realized God had other plans. He wanted me to get a job to provide for my family, to take classes and pay back the money I owed, and to work to get my license restored. I had to be faithful where I was on the way to where God was leading me.
During this time, I preached at many different churches. I was eventually invited to speak at First Baptist of Eastpoint, Florida. They were searching for a pastor. When I arrived, I whispered to my wife, “It will be a miracle if they choose me to be their pastor.”
Four other men with degrees, clean records, and years of experience had applied for the position. I had a GED from the Department of Corrections and more felonies than the years I’d been alive. My only preaching experience was in prison, so I hadn’t even sent them my resume.
The odds were against me, but God was for me. In His perfect plan, I was chosen.
When I first entered Franklin County, Florida, I was in a prison van with chains on my legs. Today, I pastor a church there, preaching the Gospel that has the power to remove spiritual chains off others. God takes the least of the least and uses them to accomplish His purposes. Don’t ever doubt what He can do through a life that’s fully surrendered to Him.
Not only has He allowed me to pastor a church and serve along with my family, but He has also opened doors for us to minister in prisons and jails. He has allowed us to travel to Israel, where we were baptized in the River Jordan. While there, I had the opportunity to speak at the pool of Bethesda, where Jesus healed the man who had been lame for 38 years. We worshiped on a boat in the Sea of Galilee—the same waters our Lord walked upon to save His people. God is the God of the impossible!
I don’t know what you are facing right now, but I know the wait isn’t easy. Think of this time as an opportunity for God to place you on His potter’s wheel. Let Him shape and mold you into a vessel He can use. Prison wasn’t a time of punishment; it was a season of purification. He used my time as a chapel orderly as seminary training. Often the most challenging times are the most productive ones.
As you can see, God has blessed my life. But even with so many great things, there was still something missing—my wife and I desperately wanted to have a baby together. She had prayed for this child every day for four years, but she’d had her fallopian tubes tied before we met. The operation to untie them was costly and beyond our means. Still, we trusted God to work in this situation. If it was His will, we knew He could supernaturally untie her tubes or provide the finances for the procedure. We put our desires in the Lord’s hand and waited for Him to act.
Just when we were about to give up, God reminded us that He was with us and for us. We were at an event when an evangelist who knew nothing about us asked if he could pray for us. In the middle of his prayer, he told us that God had said, “I have heard your prayers. That baby you have cried out for is coming.”
We were completely wrecked by those words and cried tears of joy. Our excitement and hopes soared through the roof. We went home knowing our baby was coming soon. But months went by, and with each negative pregnancy test, my wife’s heart broke a bit more. An entire year passed, but just when we had all but given up, a man wrote us a check for the total amount of the procedure. It was a miracle.
Early in May of 2021, our son was born. We are beside ourselves with joy, thankful for God’s love, blessing, and provision.
You would think that with all that has happened in my life, I would never doubt God. But I do. Doubt, fear, and anxiety often come against me. But every day, I remind myself of God’s constant faithfulness and choose to stand on His Word. He has never failed me.
Maybe you’re reading this story and you feel all hope is gone or you fear what your future holds. Let God’s Word be a lamp for your feet and light for your path (Psalm 119:105). Let the light of His Word reveal to you that He is a loving Father. Let Him heal your broken heart and make straight the crooked paths of your life.
Be at peace with who you are, where you are, and what you have. Give your life to Christ and trust His nail-scarred hands to carry you and your loved ones through. He will be faithful to meet your every need and more.