“I was in prison, and
ye came unto Me”
(Matthew 25:36 KJV)
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The following testimonies were originally published in our periodical, “The Good News Letter.” Most of them were unsolicited, and were sent to us as a gift by Christian prison inmates who read and enjoyed our newsletter. As most of them are several years old, it is unlikely that their authors are still incarcerated at the same correctional facilities. Some may have been released by now. We provide these testimonies purely for the interest and edification of our web viewers, and make no claim as to the current physical or spiritual condition of the various writers. Nevertheless, we hope that you will keep them in your prayers. We hope the following will be a blessing to you!
I started using and selling drugs when I was 13 years old, and when necessary I was also carrying a gun. I grew up in a tough environment. If you weren’t into crime in my neighborhood, you weren’t “in”. I offer no excuses however, I made all the choices. I was a hope-
During my years in the gang I saw the illegal drug business change also! At first we were just a gang... until a constitution was drafted, that’s when things began to change. Under the constitution members all over were ordered to place all personal feelings and obligations aside until the purpose and goals of the gang were accomplished. Members were not to spill the blood of a fellow gang member. We were to carry out all orders of the appointed leaders on the power ladder of the gang as mandated by the constitution. Members were to do battle for the gang without question. Many gang members were highly respected and were given positions of power for gang “hits” they had made.
One of the things I remember most among the many years of gang activity is that it was a life where you constantly lived in doubt. I was in charge of a regiment and during times of full alert, armed body guards were assigned to me. I was a high-
I have seen many of my friends die from overdoses of heroin because the dope was too raw. Gang members were not allowed to use any drugs, it was an automatic death sentence. I was stunned when I learned of a situation. During an internal power struggle, a “Captain” I was close to was lured into a room by another gang member for a “hit”. Two gang members were waiting for him, one grabbed him with an extension cord around his neck and another stabbed him 37 times and then cut his throat! Why? They learned he had been “chipping” heroin. I don’t mean to disrespect any gang or any gang member but I, myself, would never want to lead another dangerous life of gang activity. I simply offer my testimony to warn anyone to think twice before joining a gang. And, I say there is a better way through Christ Jesus. I have seen so many lives torn apart by gangs.
I went into the church and turned into a “suitcase”. Church members put their arms around me and started to pray. Some of them wept as we prayed the sinners prayer. I was just so sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was to the point that I was abusing narcotics and I thought if I was going to get out of it I was going to go all the way! It seemed that up to that point all my life revolved around drugs and doing whatever it took to get them and sell them. I had come from a familia of heroin dealers, so I knew the game. When I left that service I was sober and alive. During the time of my conversion to Christ I was awaiting trial on my criminal case. I could have easily fled the country, but it was members of this church, who really didn’t even know me, that posted a $75,000 dollar property bond for my release. They told me if I was innocent to go to court and face my trial. I told them I would go to trial and no matter what happened I would take Christ with me... even to prison! Amen. Since then and my coming to prison I have done much study about this Jesus. I find life is a lot deeper than most of us wish to accept. One thing is for sure: There is a God above in a place called Heaven. I won’t say I understand it all, but if God created the world and everything that lives then what problem would this same God have in raising the dead? Seems clear to me.
I just give thanks and praise to the True and Living Lord Jesus that has spared me from death, hell and the grave. God has been so good to me allowing me to live this long. I was a violent person years ago. When I accepted Christ it was as if I had a new nature. Drugs change a person’s nature, I witnessed junkies and prostitutes getting gunned down in the streets for not paying their drug bills to the “pusher”. I had no pity for anyone, yet the Lord Jesus has shown me so much pity, I have learned it is God’s agape love, real love. He has plans for all who heed His calling. I now have life eternal.
Why I loved drugs so much is beyond me. Drugs are a tool of the devil, drugs change and destroy our human nature. I became violent. I was insane on drugs. I can say without hesitation that coming to Christ will change anyone’s life. It reduces crime and changes the moral attitudes of mankind. Christ provides moral direction for people encouraging them to avoid criminal behavior. That’s the bottom line for me!
To those of you who are suffering, you can pray this prayer: “Father God, I have acknowledged Your Son, Jesus Christ as my Lord and Redeemer. I am a sinner and I am ready to receive the Light of Your revelation that comes from Him. Let that Light find out every part of me and remove the darkness. Let it make me pure and alive for Christ and let it shine through me to others in Jesus Name. Amen.”
What can be said about a vivacious sixteen-
Everything in paradise wasn’t what it appeared to be. Even though I attended church spasmodically, I didn’t follow the Bible’s principles and I certainly wasn’t a responsible parent, by any stretch of the imagination. Looking back, I guess I loved my wife and kids as much as I could, in light of the serious character flaws I had. But, they deserved so much more than I could give! There was a powerful undertow beneath the surface of the shallow person I was which had long been a driving force in my life. A current, stronger than anyone knew or could have imagined, was about to show its strength. I started drinking Canadian Dry Gin when I was five years old. From then on my drinking only accelerated until I would spin totally out of control. The alcohol was a numbing friend who helped me forget the horrible memories that I didn’t want to face.
One memory especially that was a daily reality for me was trying to cope with being sexually abused from the age of three until I was ten by a string of people: Family, foster family and neighbors. Those memories hung around my conscience like a cheap pearl necklace which I despised wearing. It was an unwanted gift given to me by my abusers and I grew up swearing I’d get even. Having been an unwanted child, I ventured through a half dozen foster homes until I entered the U. S. Army at seventeen as an infantryman. By then, in 1980, the die was cast, and I was a hopeless mess, loosed upon society. I saw everyone and everything as prey, as something to hurt, for hurting me. To use the words of my Company Commander, when he notified me of my dishonorable discharge from service while in Germany for fighting all the time: “Tom, we need your type in war time, not peacetime.” With that another disastrous chapter in my life had concluded.
My early years of character development greatly shaped the person I became as an adult. I recall when I was six when a social worker, who was assigned to me and my brother Jimmy (who we called ‘Bo Bo’), drove us to what she said would be another new foster home. I had a deep sense of responsibility to protect little Bo Bo, and somehow I knew he needed me. I would wipe away tears from his five-
I married a beautiful woman named Sharon at twenty-
It all seemed like a nightmare! And one from which I hoped to God I’d wake up from. My whole life, from my earliest memories at age of two, was ugly, painful and bloody. From the times I watched my Dad fight with the neighborhood men, who suspected he was having affairs with their wives, and my mother fighting with neighborhood women over him, until I landed in prison, I had no good memories of the past, except my children, Tamara and Tommy. My friends had deserted me, and with few family members left, I spent a year in the county jail with my head facing the ground in shame. My eyes were sunken into a face overwhelmed by disgrace. Not just because my own life was shattered, but, because of the humiliation that my wife, children, friends and family members were forced to endure because of me. On top of all that, I had victimized another person by committing a felony. Suicide was a constant option which I seriously considered for a while. Realizing an act of that nature would heap more pain upon my family, I resisted the temptation, though it loitered around in the back of my mind.
The only time life entered me was when I saw my children through a Plexiglas window in the visiting room at the jail. With her lips pressed against the window, Tamara would beckon me to kiss her. She couldn’t understand why she could see her daddy, but not touch him through the glass. I understood why, and that knowledge tormented me. Without questions, without any condemnation, and with no apologies, she’d spent each visit kissing her daddy through the window. On those moments her gaze brought love to a heart that was ripped to pieces. There wasn’t a success story in my life. I had failed so miserably at everything I had ever done. Even the prosecutor at my sentencing told the Judge, “Your Honor, he can’t even steal successfully.” Of all my failures, the worst was to my wife and children, which I couldn’t make right. A person can’t make right a lifetime of wrongs by mere words or apologies (regardless of their sincerity). I deserted by choice my family, society, and freedom by walking into a place of business and robbing it. The realization that I had left behind in the wake of my life countless victims compounded my grief. As the prison doors slammed behind me, I felt like a paratrooper with a tank strapped to my back, speeding towards a fast-
In my wildest dreams I didn’t think things could get worse. Was I ever wrong! My wife was preparing a divorce (and I didn’t blame her). Then, the prison chaplain called me into his office on December 27, 1989, just two days after Christmas. With his eyes visibly moist and his voice cracking from compassion, he told me that my daughter Tamara had passed away the day before. I could take no more. My bundle of joy and the only reason to live was gone! What burst forth from my inner being was a sorrow which can only really be known by a parent (even one who has failed as a parent) whose child had died. Grief and pain erupted in uncontrollable sobs and heaves which left my body convulsing in the chair. My pain was so overwhelming, I thought at any moment the arms of the grave would tear through the floor and swallow me whole. To me, my life, and especially myself epitomized all that failure and shame meant. I blamed myself for the death of my daughter because I had gone to prison in the first place. I wasn’t there to protect her and I wasn’t the kind of father she had deserved.
For weeks I cried uncontrollably, when no one was present, and I was always on the verge of tears when they were around. Several times a day I would fall upon the ground in my cell, look up to heaven, and beg my daughter’s forgiveness, hoping she was there. I believed, even in the twisted condition I was in, that if there was a God, He would take care of such an innocent one, who never possessed the reigns of freewill, and grant her entrance into Heaven. I don’t know what kept me going those weeks after Tamara died. Perhaps it was the desire to find answers about where she was. I had read books about other parents who had lost a child to death. But, even in those testimonies, I couldn’t find any answers or comfort. There hadn’t been any books written for people in my circumstances. I was under a different cloud than most other grieving parents. Most parents had done a good job with their child and some even an outstanding one. I, on the other hand, was a failure and couldn’t even grieve with my wife like other parents. I had a double dose of grief. Not just the pain of losing a child, but bearing the responsibility for preventing her death formed a compound grief which cut deeper than any other traumatic event could have.
I struggled to gain information about the circumstances which surrounded Tamara’s death, because few people are willing to give a convict any information. Then the mystery was cleared up when local state-
Now, I had a reason for living again -
A Christian man, who knew me and heard of Tamara’s death, planted the first seeds of hope that would be the beginning of my healing process. He shared with me 1 Thessalonians 4:13-
In my heart, I sensed that I needed to forgive all those who had sexually abused me as a child, my own parents for abandoning both me and Bo Bo, foster parents, and the man who killed my daughter. That last one, though, was the hardest of them all. In doing so, I could finally move forward to whatever lay ahead with some resemblance of hope. I needed healing in the deepest part of my being, though, as it related to Tamara. My confidence was shattered. There was a chapter in my life that needed to be closed. I never had the chance to go to my daughter’s funeral, or say good-
The evangelist who would bring the healing balm to my life came from an unlikely, but perfect source: Tamara would once again act as a dispenser of Heaven’s grace for me! Late one night, not long after I had decided to forgive the man who killed her and everyone who ever hurt me, I asked God for two favors, if He didn’t mind. First, I asked Him, “Lord, would you please give Tamara a message for me? Would you please tell her I’m so sorry for failing her, for abandoning her, and for not being a good daddy to her? And would you ask her if she could find it in her heart to forgive me?” I didn’t know at the time if each request was theologically correct or not. All I knew was God and Tamara were living together, and if He wanted to, He could relay the message to her. As always, I went to bed that night thinking about Tamara, and asked Jesus to bless her and I fell asleep.
Sometime that night, whether in a dream, or awake, I don’t know, I only know that I saw Tamara surrounded by bright, beautiful angels and by saints who had died and gone to Heaven. They were crowding around Tamara, waiting to see her. Her conquistadora manner of giggling was drawing a crowd of people who seemed to be thrilled with the newest arrival to Heaven’s family. Everyone around her was laughing and listening to her giggle. I really think that if Michael the Archangel would have blown his trumpet at that moment its sound would have fallen on preoccupied ears. There was a celebration going on around her, the likes of which this world has never seen before and mere mortals cannot comprehend. I can’t wait to join in on the party that will be thrown for every child of God and parent who were separated in this world by the crushing blow of death!
Then, Tamara appeared just several feet in front of me. Yet, we were separated by a clear golden, glowing transparent sheet of glass, that was beautiful-
I’ve never shed a tear of shame since. Christ’s and my daughter’s forgiveness have healed all the shame and bitterness I had. Yes, there are times when I cry. But, they are never because of sorrow. They are tears of joy in the warm memories I have of her, and the thrilling hope of being reunited with her one day soon. I’ve heard many preachers over the years, but it wasn’t until Heaven’s tiniest evangelist preached Heaven’s theme of love to a sinner like me, that I really come to the reality of God, and eternity. Our love for each other is a sacred flame burning within which fuels my desire to move on, even when life can make that difficult to do at times. But knowing that my daughter watches from above, I know she would want me to do the best job I can in pressing on. We’ve got a reunion to enjoy in the future. A lot has been said about God, Heaven, angels, and redemption. I think the greatest case for Heaven’s existence can be made, not in the hostile words over doctrines, and angry word of opinions, but, in the countless lives throughout history that have been changed by messengers sent to earth on a mission of good will for the “poor in spirit.” My daughter was the only evangelist who ever got through to me. The rest of theology I will leave to those more righteous than I, to preach its complexity. Tamara’s message is God’s message. It’s one which transforms lives, fills empty hearts with love and give purpose to living.
My name is Walter Paul Oswald Jr., I am a man of God bought by the blood of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God who was slain for the sins of mankind. I am a forgiven man because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for me. I am currently in prison reaping what was sown in the flesh by the child that I used to be.
In our society man is the center of the world and not God Almighty. And that thought-
Imagine what a parent goes through when their child turns from all that they were taught (God and right from wrong), and turns instead to a life-
Towards the end of High School I got very interested in the occult and Satanism. Of course listening to Heavy Metal helped to cultivate an interest in occult ideals and demonic attitudes and desires. A lot of the Heavy Metal music is based on lyrics that are totally evil and dangerous to the mind. I started reading books on the subject and pretty soon I was a practicing Satanist. I had given myself over to the enemy without a fight. I was consumed by the darkness and had no control of what was to take place in my life. It was inevitable that my life was going to get worse. Eventually I came to the point of taking a persons life, Kevin Merfeld. I betrayed a friend and his family’s trust. I got so depressed about my life and the inability to make something positive come of my life that I had planned on taking my own life. I wasn’t thinking very rationally at all and I knew that my Dad would have a hard time dealing with me killing myself, so I ended up taking his life too. I loved him very much and wish that I could have done better in my choices in the past, but we have to live with the choices that we make, no matter how foolish. These were not rational thoughts, it was idiotic and this is what happens when God, through His Son, Jesus Christ, are not the total motivation of our lives. I failed in my attempts to take my own life and prison was to be in my future.
After coming to prison I continued on my path of ignorance of God by choosing my own path of unrighteousness and evil. About four years after coming to prison I started to realize the mistakes that I have made in rebelling against God, His Son Jesus Christ and His creation. I knew that if I continued on my own path, that Hell was my destiny. And when in the past I thought that I wanted to go to Hell, I realized how real Hell is and that it is a place of torment and not pleasure. I was awakened to the reality of my sinfulness and the need to give my life to God and accept His plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. I didn’t have control over my life and knew that in order to do what is right in life God had to be in control of my life, not me.
After recommitting my life to God I thought that the biggest struggles of life were over -
These things that I’ve written about I am forgiven by the grace of God Almighty and only through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We must have faith in Christ and His atoning death, burial and resurrection. The things that I’ve done and gone through are no joke. If we give in to the ways of an ungodly world (of which Satan is using to destroy billions of souls) then we are allowing Satan access to creating even a greater mess of our lives and God only knows how many others we influence in our day to day activities. God is calling everyone to His Son Jesus Christ, to accept by faith Jesus’ Death-
Don’t get involved in the New Age of astrology and spirit guides, secular music and movies. If you let these things into your life, then you are sure to have more trouble than you can imagine. There are Christian alternatives to the world and its ways. Life is the beautiful gift of God through His Son, Jesus Christ, and we should not take for granted what God has done for us. The Bible is the [written] Word of God and sheds Light to guide us and teach us. We should take heed of God’s Word before we listen to anyone. ...God is unchangeable and won’t lie. God’s Word is sure and we should eat of Gods Words and continue in it, not being swayed by what the world is saying. We had better listen to God rather than man. We are close to the “Day of the Lord” and we all need to repent and turn to God with a pure heart. If we are not rooted and grounded in God’s Word then when the storms of life come we will fall and be destroyed. Let the love of God rule and reign in your hearts.
There is another thing which I would like to share. I have a Christian brother here in prison with me who is from Yugoslavia and lived most of his life there. He is one of the most sincere and dedicated Christians that I have wet and God has put it on my heart as to why we in America are so lukewarm in our Christianity. We have become undisciplined in living as Christians at all times (we’ve allowed sinfulness to be accepted into the church without a fight). We aren’t committed to our commitment to God. We have taken for granted the Bible, our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, and all the rights that our Constitution was meant to stand for. Now that we are losing our freedoms we see the possibility (reality) of losing our Christian freedom. A time is coming when martyrdom will again be a common word among true Christians. I’ve seen in my Yugoslavian brother a commitment to God and a disciplined attitude to live a holy life for God that we as Americans should have. We should be setting an example to a dying world of Christ Jesus living in us and through us. If we truly believe that Jesus Christ is coming soon -
I was raised in a lower class environment as a child and given the standard education in Christianity. Even though I understood on an intellectual level, I never truly understood or felt in my heart a true relationship with God. At a very early age I was introduced to the gangster mentality, and so began my personal little crime spree. It lasted almost 20 years. During those years I was involved with everything from prostitution to extortion, from armed bank robbery to international smuggling. It was all quite grand and glamorous, the Devil’s work always is in the beginning. It never can last because Satan is ugly as is all he puts his hand to, and I had become a part of that ugliness. The last two years of my spree were spent on street corners trying to sell the only thing I had left. But most times using a gun because what I had left wasn’t worth paying for. I suffered from severe drug addiction, “gangsteritis,” but most of all complete spiritual and moral bankruptcy. I had hit bottom. I really don’t want to get into the things I saw or did or what was going on out there. Trust me when I tell you it was beyond the most horrid of nightmares. What I do want to tell you about is the night God touched me and I awoke from the horror of what was my life.
I had gone to the dope house to collect money and drugs. When I walked into the back room, I saw a very young girl being used by three men. In payment they were throwing little pieces of crack cocaine onto the floor. I stood watching as she crawled around naked on the floor, shaking and crying, searching for the drugs. I was sickened, disgusted, and seething with internal rage. I felt the gun in my hand without even realizing I had taken it from my pants. To this day I believe the only thing that saved me from committing murder that night was God, and that I couldn’t decide who should die, her, them or me. I began to walk. I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t care. I was lost. I remember sitting down on the curb and thinking, “Some work of art you are, a gun in your jeans, a pocket full of dope, cash in your sock, and so sick and miserable death would be a blessing. Maybe it was me who should die.” It was at that moment I surrendered and my darkness became light, so bright, so complete. The light of God filled me with warmth, love and peace, and I heard a voice that has no words but speaks directly to your heart. It called to me over and over again, “Have you had enough? Are your ready?”
I sat for a long time, though it seemed only a moment. I’ve come to realize God is timeless and when you’re in His company He eases the burden of time, a definite bonus in prison. So finally I picked myself up from the curb, totally confused because I knew beyond a doubt what kind of person I was and God doesn’t visit “BAD” people, does He? About this time a friend pulled his car up next to me and called my name. I got in the car and he asked did I want to go home. I told him where I lived was never a home. He took me to his house. No sooner was I through the door before I was smoking dope. But the funny thing is I couldn’t get high; no escape! I really didn’t understand until my friend walked into the room. He looked at me, shook his head and said, “Oh Julie haven’t you had enough? Aren’t you ready? God’s waiting you know, and there’s no moment so dark that he can’t make light.” At first I thought, “This guy must have seen what happened on that curb.” But he hadn’t. In that moment I knew with all clarity that this friend, who I had never known was a Christian, did not happen along by accident and that what he said was the repeating of a divine message sent just for me alone. I knew no matter who or what I was, God loves me. I knew He was reaching for me because my pain and shame were so great I couldn’t reach for Him.
I took hold of the Lord’s hand and now where He heads I follow. In the beginning it was a very hard path. I had over a dozen felony warrants for my arrest, but in His love I need have no fear. Our first walk was to BCI, Florida State’s Max. Security Prison. Often I’ve cried, but as time goes by, the way gets easier and the scenery more and more beautiful as I learn to see the world thru the eyes of Jesus. I still reside in BCI and I’m all right with that because I’m never alone and I’m still walking with the Lord.
In my first thirty six years of my old life, I was living in Satan’s world. I was doing all the sins man can think of. When I was about three years old my father and mother got divorced and the words of hate, bitterness, and lonely were in my heart. By the time I was eleven years old, the hate and bitterness grew to everyone who loved me. My father and step-
I was looking for a new life in the army, but I came to watch my friends being raped one after another in the United States Army! These were teenagers, of seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, and twenty years old. It started to get me sick of the army. I went AWOL three times to get away. The army kicked me out because I wouldn’t do what they told me to do. Everywhere I went, city after city, I saw teenagers being raped for money, drugs, and sometimes a place to live for sex. I lived in many states by the time I was twenty-
I got married when I was twenty years old. My wife and I had two children but she started seeing someone else, and I divorced her when I was in prison. I have been in and out of prisons in Washington, Oregon and California for fourteen years now. This prison where I am now is my fifth prison. I tried to kill myself in a state prison in Washington, but that was what Satan wanted me to do. The state sent me to a state hospital to get some help for my problems, but I was sent to prison for taking and riding a motor vehicle without permission of the owner. I was given five years probation. That was my first crime in 1976. But this probation was revoked and I was sent to prison for five years in 1978.
When I was on probation in Washington, I was in Oregon doing burglary 2nd degree, and sent to prison for eighteen months in Oregon. Then I got out of prison in 1982 and went to San Francisco to live and to stay away from Washington. Well, in this city I was given three years probation and one year in jail for robbery 2nd degree. After I got out this time, Washington wanted me. I went back to prison and was released in 1985. Then I was sent back to prison six months later for malicious mischief for five more years. I was paroled in March 1986 and my parole was revoked because I moved out of the state without permission. I was paroled again and my file was closed June 6, 1986. I was free to go where I wanted to go. I didn’t do any more crimes until August 2, 1989 when I was charged for malicious arson. I was sentenced to forty-
I am a wanted man by the Federal Officers in the Seattle area, for the crime of arson. I ran away from my problems in October 1989 and went to San Francisco. There I got a job at a hotel where they gave me room and board. And on October 17, 1989 at 5:04 P.M. we had a big earthquake. I was afraid I was going to die. I started thinking about my crime in Seattle, about my family, and my crime against God the Father and His Son Jesus. So this earthquake was God’s way of telling me to get right before it was too late. I went to church and sat there feeling sorry for myself. I was so lonely it hurt my heart. I wanted to go back home and face what I did wrong. Then the Federal Officers arrested me and sent me back to Seattle.
When I was in Tacoma County Jail I went to church and gave my life over to Jesus Christ my Lord. That was in January 1990. And I came to Lompoc Federal Prison on May 24, 1990. I’ve been going to church every day. I am the chaplain’s clerk here. I praise the Lord for His love and the kind words He put in my heart. But when the earthquake happened, that made me do some thinking about God and Jesus. And if it was not for this Earthquake, I would still be running from this crime and my past sins and problems.
Jesus loved me so much that He opened my heart and mind. I found love and peace in my prison cell. God is watching me every day in here. I don’t know what is in the future for me, but praise the Lord, now I know who holds the future and I can safely trust my all to the Lord Jesus Christ. Although I am locked up in a cell, Spiritually I am free. Jesus set me free in this prison, for “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
I hope this testimony will help someone in prison or on the streets of our cities. My heart cries out to all children and teenagers in our world. I pray that the Lord will watch over them so they will never have to see the prison bars like I have all these years. God bless you all at Bible Believers Fellowship, Inc. God is watching you all.
For almost twenty years, I was a helpless victim of a tremendous addiction to drugs, and had ultimately served the devil and an inanimate master. Being on the inside of an obsession of my magnitude did not afford me the privilege of an objective outlook and because of the progressive nature of my disease, I couldn’t really see myself going down the toilet. I could feel my life deteriorating before my very eyes and was hard-
I kept doing this and that and the key word here is “I” because the BEST I had to offer, got me in that situation in the first place. So anyway, I successfully managed to go through a couple of Mental Health Workers, a Social Worker, a City/County Health Dept. Worker, several personal relationships, five separate employers, two wives, and relating children, one set of parents, a couple of concerned neighbors, a family counselor, my ex-
When I arrived here at this prison, I was shocked to find that long-
Once it was done, I was amazed at just how easy it really was and now, thanks to the grace of God, I have something I didn’t have before -
Somehow, during the course of my addictive past, I managed to secure five separate major college degrees, one of which was a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and with that wealth of knowledge crammed into my brain, I couldn’t help myself without Divine intervention. I’ve come to the conclusion that knowledge without wisdom is a very dangerous tool. In conclusion, thank you for letting me share some of my experiences and hopes, as well as the answers to everything. There’s no hope with dope and only God has the real answer. I now owe everything that I will be and am, to the Power of God. But regardless of the total metamorphosis I’ve undergone, I always seem to come up short of God’s glory. I’ll continue to try to do what God wants me to do. Please don’t stop your ministry because it reached me in a very special way. I shall remain your humble advocate and forever Christian Brother.
I am a Born Again Christian. I am a forth termer doing two years for spousal abuse and one year parole violation. I’ll not glorify the sin and my crime by describing all the details. Suffice it to say I was wrongly accusing my mate of infidelity, and came home from work after drinking and making up my mind she was “messing around” with our host. An argument ensued. I struck her, beat on him; the police were there next I knew. As I was intoxicated, and full of rage, pain, and mixed emotion, I went and met the police with destruction (self) in mind. We fought. I was subdued and placed in county jail because of my state of mind and [my] actions were violent. It took them two days to book me in and me to realize not only was I in serious trouble with the law, I ruined our relationship and terrorized my loving woman and two young boys. Well, let me tell you all, when I really realized what I had wrecked, and the feelings I had hurt, and the wrong attitude and image I had displayed to two young boys, let me tell you I was totally emotionally despondent, in internal turmoil, and inconsolable inside. I hated myself with a passion, harbored serious doubts of ever being redeemable socially for anything ever, and commenced plans of suicide through someone else’s hands, as I knew I couldn’t pull the trigger myself. I also knew I could push someone else’s buttons till they did. I won’t elaborate how, but believe this, it was very devious and would of worked to the desired end (my death) had not God, Praise His name, and a desperate talk with God, changed my life.
I was at the end of my planning stage. All that was left was to initiate the wheels in motion. But before this was done I talked to God first. I told God, “God, I’m in trouble now! I need You to help me. I need You to change me, Father. To make me what You want me to be, ‘cause if you don’t, I’m gonna start doing the Devil’s work. I won’t worship him, but I’ll be doing his work and don’t really see no difference, so please God, come into my heart and make me what you want, cause I don’t want to do what I’m thinking, but I can’t take the hurt inside.” Let me tell you all, God hears a repentant heart, because first thing I know is tears of release began to flow from my eyes like I’m full of water. I don’t know how long I cried, but brothers and sisters, I needed that release. I was saved, Hallelujah! God gave me His peace...[beyond] understanding. He took those thoughts of self destruction and put love in its place. In fact, I was so full of peace, and the Holy Spirit, I was feeling more than a tad guilty, and relieved. First relief, and then joy of the Lord as all my burdens were lifted from [me] by the precious love of God. And guilty because I was so full of the joy of the Lord, and the lady I love was not feeling the Lord’s love and joy. I had hurt her terribly, treated her wrongly, and unjustly accused her of wrong doing, and left her alone by being in jail.
I didn’t know what to do! But I did know to pray and so I did. I wrote her and prayed, and wrote her and prayed, and on and on. I told her of my accepting Jesus in my heart and inside I was no longer the same man. I shared with her the things God shared with me in my heart and kept telling her to give her life ‘back’ to Christ. I told Sherre God is the answer. He will see us through all. Well, one day I called my boss’ house and they asked if I wanted to talk to Sherre! Boy howdy, did I! Anyway, we talked. She told me she still loved me and was very hurt. She was even gracious enough to tell me if this was what it took for me to get right with God, then it was worth it. (That’s some kind of loving heart!!) Well, I study the Bible first thing when I wake and last thing before sleep. Praise God, here we have Bible Study two times a week.
I grew up in the slums in the heart of the South Bronx, in a very big family. It was hell, as I remembered my relationship with my family was really no relationship. I was never noticed! Only when I would come home with a new black eye or beat up badly by the older gangs. Then both my parents would punish me. That caused me to rebel against our precious Lord and society. I joined all types of gangs so my so-
I met this junkie in a club one day and he asked if I was with the Satan’s Loners. So I asked him how I can find this gang. For two bucks he took me. They were having a sacrifice at the time with an animal. It was “unreal.” I felt touched by this type of people. Mrs. Kaestner, the things I’ve seen before my eyes, till this day, I cannot believe But I understand who was...[behind] them. As I became part of this so-
Anyway, I went to...[Second Avenue and Third Street] and was taken to the Angel’s club. I was very surprised. They hugged me and called me Bro [brother]. A good thing the Satan’s Loners and the Angels had nothing against each other. They were brothers. They have the same “master”. How cheap! Anyway, we got drunk. They sold me a bike. And like the Satan’s Loners, they also had a big part with Satan that I can’t speak of... But they did them all. I never took part in them. I would always go my own way on my bike. They didn’t mind. They respected me for pleasing Satan, and for riding a Harley. We was at peace when drugging or drunk, orgies. Mrs. Kaestner, every day I wished I was dead. I used to think of ways of taking my life because I was hurt. So much pain in my life. I had all kinds of things, but I was not at one time happy...
Now, one night, me and my bother was drunk like a skunk, and we had a fight in a bar. I don’t know why. But I cut him and he cut me. A man drove us to the hospital and they took care of us. The next day we had a serious hang over... Rachel [my girlfriend] came over to the house and took care of me. So a week later I went to hang out in the corner and got picked up by the police. “Why?” I said. Well the cops said me and a friend robbed a lady’s house, hit her and took money and gold from the house. Only God knows the truth and Rachel and the people from the hospital and the family I was with at the time of the crime. And yes, I could have won the case, but a so-
Anyway, Mrs. Kaestner, for months before all this happened I used to cry for help. And the only thing I had in mind was to kill myself. And God knew this, & Mrs. Kaestner, till this day, I strongly believe God allowed me the chance to accept His grace and life because He sure has a plan for my life, & this is what I did. I took advantage of this chance in life to receive the Sweet Lord Jesus into my heart and leave my life in His will, not mine, because my will was weak and dirty. I really felt the peace of God somewhere in prison. And then it came to me. A very nice old man named Bob (Robert Lee Hammond) led me to Jesus. Praise God! On the second of April, Jesus led me to receive the Holy Baptism. It’s beautiful, praise God. I’m in love with the Word! It’s what I live by. I’m still in training in the Word, but it gets better every day, praise God. I don’t smoke anymore. I don’t get upset at things. I praise God for them, good or bad. I have patience for my brothers. I tell you one thing, all this is a test. Since I accepted Jesus, I lost my mother, my fiancee, & my father, but I understand it’s His will I live. I accepted His will, so I shall carry the cross, & not question Him, but give sincere gratitude. I’m not afraid about what the brothers back home or the world thinks or will try to do to me, because God will take care of them in the long run! But I pray for them all. Always I pray God will lead them to repent as I did.
I spent half my adult life in & out of crime and drugs. By the age of 36, I had done practically everything immoral & illegal under the sun. Most of my old friends were already dead, or they were long-
Waves of memories and the guilt of a lifetime flooded in on me more and more, until they finally caused me to cry out as something inside broke. I cried how sorry I was for the way I had lived my life, the people I had hurt. I told God how sorry I was for hurting Him also. I asked Him to please forgive me. From seemingly out of nowhere this image of a man began coming into my mind’s eye. As I looked closer I knew that it was Jesus. He appeared at a distance, naked, with just a robe-
I’ve been a different man since that night the Lord’s Spirit touched me, a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). I spend time every day reading God’s Holy, living Word. In His infinite love and mercy God saved my wife, Deanna, also, praise God! She saw what the Lord had done for me and sought Him herself. She was delivered by Jesus from Satan and drug addiction. She’s been leading a Christian life pleasing to the Lord, for almost a year. We now hope to be useful in His service, living witnesses to those that have eyes to see and ears to hear, about the love of Jesus.
My name is Roy Lee Thomas Jenkins and I want to share with you how I came to find the Lord Jesus Christ behind Prison Walls.
I was Born October 2, 1951 in New Castle, Indiana, to Joh and Vivian Jenkins. Why we ever moved to New York is beyond my comprehension but, I had no choice in the matter. Times were rough and I knew what it meant to be without all my life. Early one morning I woke to my mother’s screaming and the fear I felt at that time I cannot describe. When I entered the kitchen at four years old, I witnessed my father throwing my mother down the stairs and from that day forward I was abused mentally and physically. I was searching for a meaning to life at a very young age and I knew I had a burning desire to find out about this man they called Jesus.
Easter Day of my thirteenth year I got myself as clean as possible and put on my new Easter outfit so I could go to church and hear about Jesus. I was so happy to hear about Him and I also knew my days of searching for the meaning of life were over. I knew then I wanted to live for Jesus but, I did not know about the pain and hurt I was to face when I got to my house. I arrived home about twelve noon and my father was waiting there with anger on his face. When I walked in he immediately began to beat me so bad that when he finished I had blood coming from my mouth, nose, and my eyes were swollen shut. I ran around the corner, to some people I knew would give me the protection I needed, and they laced into my father for what he did.
I cursed Jesus and told Him I wanted nothing to do with Him or church ever again. This is the time when I rebelled against my father and all authority. The next twenty four years I was total terror to anyone who crossed my path and I did not care about any life, whether human or animal. I started setting fires, killing animals, stealing, and whatever else I could do to rebel. In 1967 I was arrested for inciting to riot, harassment, and mischievous conduct, but I got away scott free, so I continued my rampage.
I joined gangs such as the “Demons,” “Savage Nomads,” “Savage Skulls,” and I had become an alcoholic by fourteen years old. In 1969 I was arrested for felony assault and other related charges and was sent to New Hampton State Training School for Boys for 18 months. That, as before, did not deter my attitude for authority. In 1976 suicide was on my mind, so I set my house on fire after getting drunk, and then climbed into bed in hopes to be burnt to death. I guess it was not in the cards for me to leave this world, for I was rescued but, I was charged with arson, and was sentenced to five years in prison.
In that time it was the big thing to go to the parole board as a Christian, so I went as a Born Again believer, and was paroled, but I left Jesus in Prison. The Bible says, God is not mocked (Galatians 6:7), and this is what I did. I mocked God so I could get out of prison, and it worked. However, today it is a different ball game. The Parole Board does not believe you when you say you are Born Again. All they want is programs and proof you have tried to help yourself to change. Well, God showed me I was not the big shot I thought I was.
May 1983, sentenced to serve 9-
I am no saint, but I am a lot better off today than I would have been if I did not come to prison. I still have much to learn, but when I leave this prison I will leave with Jesus, and I will serve Him the rest of my life.
Roy Lee Jenkins has been in touch with us since 1989. During those years he has been incarcerated at Eastern New York Correctional Facility, Midstate Correctional Facility, and Fishkill Correctional Facility. We last heard from Roy on March 31, 1997 when he was at the Infirmary in Fishkill Correctional Facility. He told us that he was admitted for internal bleeding from serious liver and kidney damage due to his past with alcoholism. In his last letter to us, he said he was still living for Jesus and wanted to have a preaching ministry of his own when he was released. On November 7th, 1998, Roy’s copy of “The Good News Letter” for November -