My Prison Ministry
My prison ministry involves one 31 year old man, Ben. Over a month ago I visited Ben for the second time and he opened up and told me his story of how God changed his life.
Over eighteen months ago he was dramatically arrested for parole violations. His original sentence was drug related and with other charges he wound up with a two year sentence. He has been in and out of jail for the last three years and has been incarcerated for twenty consecutive months. The end of his sentence just five months away.
Ben told me with a wry smile that he was one angry man when he was last arrested and sent back to prison. He started fights with anyone around who looked at him the wrong way and caused trouble where there was none. The penalty for fighting and other serious offenses was at least a weeks isolation. Each time coming out angrier than when he went in.
Reminiscing to himself as he related how he got into such a mess, he said, “I had it all not too many years ago. I had a great partner a beautiful daughter and my own business. We had big plans, buying a house, expanding my business and working toward a successful life together.”
He admitted that drug use since he was a young teenager had taken its toll and for many years he was able to keep it under control. But as pressure built up in his life from raising a child, his relationship with his partner starting to sour and losing the passion for his business drugs became his best friend.
Ultimately his partner took their daughter and left for the refuge of family and friends over 2000 miles away. “This sent me over the edge. My daughter was my best friend and although my relationship with Sharon (not her real name) was beyond repair we were able to keep our differences at bay for the sake of Tina (not her real name.)
“About months into my jail term something happened. I had been having bad dreams for quite some time but when in isolation on this occasion I actually saw the demons above my cell looking down at me. They looked liked monsters and they were milling around in constant movement trying to figure a way to get at me. It freaked me out. It scared the crap out of me.”
He then confessed that up until that time he had professed to be an atheist. So much so that he refused to allow anyone to teach his daughter about God.
“As the demons seemed to be getting closer to finding a way at getting to me I prayed. I asked God to help me. I can’t remember exactly what I prayed but I know that God became real to me that night. That night the demons left and I had peace for the first time in many years.”
Not long after Ben got a hold of a Bible and made a promise to God.
“I told God that I would read the bible everyday. I started from Genesis and read every word to the end of Revelations. I started to pray every night without fail.”
Ben now smiling from ear to ear related how things started changing. Prior to this time Sharon would not answer any of his letters. He was cut off from his daughter not knowing if she had gotten any of the letters he sent her.
“Miraculously Sharon started to write me and we have been in constant communication ever since. I renewed my relationship with Tina and I talk to her every week. Sharon and I are now committed to put aside our differences and she has invited me to live with them when I get released from jail so I can be a part of Tina’s life.”
His life in prison has dramatically changed. He started drawing and sketching again sending most of his work to his daughter. He believes he has become a positive influence on other prisoners and has been moved to a section of the prison for those who earned the right to live less supervised in dormitory type quarters. He now has a job within his unit that keeps him busy and earns him some extra money to call his daughter.
“I work out every day, I keep myself in shape as I want to be a personal trainer when I get out” he tell me. “I even eat only healthy foods now”, he says with a chuckle.
Most of all Ben is growing in his faith learning to trust God for everything in his life. He has no regrets about his past and looks forward to his future with mixed feelings knowing it’s not going to be a walk in the park.
As I write this I am reminded of a letter he wrote not long after he allowed God back into his life. He mentioned that all the faith and love that his parents raised him with had come back to him and how thankful he was for all they had taught him about God growing up.
Now I have a wry smile on my face. You see, Ben is my son.