I was born with a rebellious nature. As early as I can remember, there was always something I was mad about. I hated authority of any kind. My life was a chorus of challenges: “Who are you to tell me what to do? What gives you the right? How dare you think you can make me do that?” I rebelled against anyone who tried to teach me.
But then I became a teenager and discovered girls. As I foolishly listened to the bad advice of others, my life became a downward spiral. “Sex, drugs, and rock & roll” became my theme. It all seemed like fun at the time, but I was headed into a bottomless pit.
My first arrest came in tenth grade for possession of speed. My parents were crushed. Wanting to help, they sent me to rehab. It didn’t work.
My drug use escalated from weed and speed to cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines—even IV use. The addiction became so powerful that at times I would load a syringe with cocaine and heroin mixed together, called a “speed ball.” Then, right before injecting it, I would load a crack pipe. I would do the shot, then chase it with a big hit off the pipe.
It’s no wonder that my rap sheet was five pages long. I was hooked, and I didn’t care. Rehab and psychiatric help couldn’t fill the hole in my soul. My last go-round happened in my own home. I overdosed on the routine described above, but 911 came to my rescue.
They revived me, saving my life, but they also found nine grams of cocaine in my pocket. At the jail, I suffered a seizure and ended up in intensive care. When I came to three days later, I left the hospital against medical advice. I was on a search for more dope. The law caught up with me and gave me a felony conviction. I was on my way to the Texas Department of Corrections.
It didn’t seem like it at the time, but this would be a blessing in disguise.
Sitting in my cell, contemplating what was about to happen to me and wondering if I would even survive, the question, “Is there a God?” came to mind. I had been caught in possession of a controlled substance. The only thing I knew for certain was that if I lived, I was going to prison.
You really can taste fear.
I didn’t know it at the time, but there were many people praying for me. God answered those prayers through a man who came into Tarrant County Jail in Ft. Worth, Texas. His name was Roger, and he conducted religious services in the pod where I was housed. Something about him drew me in. Roger kept talking about how the Lord loved me and that He would forgive me if only I would accept Jesus as my Savior.
One day I decided, since nothing else I had tried had worked, I would ask another inmate to pray with me when Roger asked us if we wanted to be saved.
Something incredible happened in that moment. I will remember it forever. When I asked the Lord Jesus into my heart, admitting that I was a sinner and needed a Savior, my entire body was engulfed in heat. It felt like my body was blushing from the bottom of my feet to the tip of my nose. In that startling moment, God delivered me from drug addiction. He changed me, and I became a new creation. Since that day in jail, Christmas season 1995, I have never craved drugs again.
Prison in Texas was no vacation, but God was with me while I did my time. None of my fears about prison were realized; instead, I look back on that time and see how the Lord used it to send me to school.
Not school in the traditional sense, but every time a chaplain had a service, I was there. My life became a witness to a fellow inmate who later came to know Jesus. He wrote to me after I was out to tell me about it. God used that letter to call me into a ministry that is now growing in the most amazing ways.
When you know you’ve been changed on the inside, it makes you want to run out and tell the world. You really expect others to believe that you are a new man, and that God has converted you. Unfortunately, that is not always how things go.
The reality for me was that I had been banished by my family, and my friends were no longer interested in being around me. As far as they were concerned, I was just an ex-con who couldn’t be trusted.
The devil tried his best to steal my peace and turn me back to him, but instead, I found new friends, stuck with my wife, Fredia, who had stuck with me while I was in prison, and got a job as a telemarketer. God had given me that job, and I did it just like He was standing there listening…because, in reality, He was!
After a little while, my work ethic stood out. Before my parole ended a year later, I was promoted twice and was actually running several retail businesses for this corporation. My family took note, and some of my old friends did also. God had begun the process of restoration.
My grandmother lived long enough to see how God had changed my life. After she passed and my parole ended, Fredia and I moved to Alabama where we currently live. The Lord gave me a great job at a local car dealership where He gave me favor. He then led me to another job where I did even better financially. During this time, He also began a new ministry through me. I received a letter from a friend back in prison, and I knew in my heart that God was calling me into prison ministry. He also had been giving me a vision for what this ministry would look like.
After consulting with my wife and praying for a while, I surrendered to the call. The church we attended at that time helped me start out as their emissary to the local county jail. We didn’t know what our next step would be, but we knew God would walk with us.
When you step out in faith to follow the Lord’s leading, the devil increases his feverish attacks against you. In my case, Satan tried to convince me that no one would ever trust me again. He wanted me to believe that I hadn’t changed at all and that I would continue to fail.
I decided it was time to ignore Satan and trust God. It was the dawning of a new millennium, I had a good job, and we had been so blessed by the Lord that we’d even been able to put back money.
Working for someone else had been keeping me from having enough time to do the things that the Lord was calling me to do. After careful discussion and prayer, Fredia and I purchased the equipment to start our own computer repair business. I have been self-employed ever since, and praise God, we are debt free.
Being self-employed means I can set my own hours. That has allowed me to be happily involved in a lot of ministries. I am now an ordained minister as well as the director of evangelism for my Southern Baptist association. We started a ministry in the local jail; I worked with Prison Fellowship as a volunteer director for their project, Operation Starting Line; I’ve been involved with Good News Jail and Prison Ministry as a local board member for the chaplain at the jail; and have been a featured speaker for the Bill Glass Behind the Walls outreach in hundreds of prisons around the country.
The Lord is faithful. He has kept His Word, and He continues to work in me to do His will.
I will never forget the feelings of utter hopelessness and loneliness that I tried so desperately to fill with the things of the world. Knowing that others are just as lost as I was without Christ in their lives compels me to keep sharing the marvelous things He has done in my life.
The greatest lesson God has taught me is that He provides for those He calls. There are many ways that He provides, but the most interesting method so far has been through other people.
When the economy slowed in 2009, the Lord led me to a group of men and women who helped me start Fly Right, Inc. Our name comes from the old saying, “You’d better straighten up and fly right, or you’re going to end up in prison.” Well, add that to the fact that God has given me the ability to fly radio-control aircraft in a way that attracts a crowd, and there you have it, the name for the ministry, Fly Right, Inc.
To date, our company has provided ministry services to prisons and schools across eight states, including a federal correctional institution. At the schools, we were blessed to be part of three different suicide interventions; it was God’s perfect timing. You see, we have the students fill out cards with their names and ask them if they need help with any serious situations. Three young ladies told us they were considering taking their lives, and we were able to alert the proper authorities and intervene in their situations.
God took my willingness to surrender to His plan and used all the trash from my past to get a message of hope to the world. He is continuing to work with me as Fly Right grows. It seems like every time I turn around, He uses us to make a difference.
Do you want God in your life? Do you want to make a difference? Do you need to straighten up and fly right? Then I encourage you to get serious about your relationship with the Lord. When you do, He will begin a work in you that He will complete. And it will amaze you (Philippians 1:6; Ephesians 3:20).
Just because you messed up and society threw you away doesn’t mean that God cannot or will not use you. Seriously, all you have to do is be sincere with Him.
Surrender your life completely to Him and seek His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). His Word promises that if you do that, He will supply your every need according to the riches of His glory (Philippians 4:19).