My Story

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Before

After

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I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life.  My plans were to play football then become a mechanical engineer.  I was well on my way but I broke my arm after two years at William Penn University in Iowa. When I could no longer play football I gave up and came home.  Anger began to build up in me.  I had witnessed a lot of violence in my life.  I had watched my mom be abused and had even seen my uncle shot right in front of me.

The combination of anger issues and alcohol had finally led me to jail.  Now I was looking at a possible twelve year prison sentence.  I was already on probation and my situation looked very bleak.

When you’re running with the wrong crowd there is usually someone you know in the county jail.  Mario and I had been friends for some time.  He was a member of a rival gang.   Mario had always been filled with anger and rage but now he seemed to have peace.  When I used foul language in front of him he asked me to stop cursing.  Now this is a man who never said two sentences without cursing. He then asked me if I read my Bible. When he learned that I didn’t really read my Bible he handed me one and said, “Tomorrow morning you are going to get up with me and we’re going to watch Creflo Dollar together.” Creflo Dollar is a television evangelist.

When I heard that message I realized how far from God I was.  I saw the peace that Mario had and my heart began to hunger for that. I had gone to church as a child, but I had just gotten religion not a relationship.  That night when I called out to Jesus I felt like I was going into a vision.  There was a light coming to me; it was bright like the sun.  I asked Mario if he saw that and he said, “No man, you’re trippin.”

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From that day forward I had a hunger for God’s Word.  I would just sit all day long on my bunk reading my Bible.  Mario and I would watch Creflo, Joyce Meyers, and Kenneth Copeland.  We would also pray and fast together.  I had always hated reading before, but now I just couldn’t get enough and what I was reading was staying in my spirit.

Another inmate named John John came to my table and asked me what I was reading.  I began to teach him what I was learning.  I was going from one chapter to another.  He asked me how I knew all that.  I said, “I don’t know, I think God is speaking to me.”  I started having Bible studies in the jail. 

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When I got to the Gurney Unit I was sitting at a table studying my Bible and a man came and asked me what I was reading.  After a few minutes he said, “Hey, let’s call for a Bible study.”  He announced a Bible study and several men gathered around and I began to teach them all.  I found myself standing up and three tables of men were listening to me.  One man said, “Man, you’re a teacher!” That had never hit me before.  That night I called out to God and said, “God is this what You’re going to do with me?” God took me to Ephesians 4:11 and taught me about the five-fold ministry.

I was then transferred to the Bartlett Unit.  I was standing with a couple of other inmates in the hall after a chapel service and the Chaplain asked us to be his porters.  That put me in the chapel every day.  I finally got to go to the Pray the Word class that I had heard so much about.   That’s when I met Ron Brigmon.  He could quote so many scriptures from memory and even make some of them rap.   I called out to God again and said, “God, I want to know the Word like that.”    Ron challenged us to memorize scriptures.  He taught us how to Pray the Word.  He taught us that this is ‘A’ way to pray not ‘the’ way to pray.  After awhile he let me start teaching the class.

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One day while I was teaching the class with Ron an officer came to the door to get me out of class.  She was going to have to deliver a death message and since the Chaplain was not there she wanted me to minister to the inmate.  That’s when I realized that God was bringing honor to my life.  Another day I was returning to the dorm from my chapel job, some inmates were about to get into a fight.  I heard a lead gang member say, “Hey guys break this up, Jerry’s coming in.”  Every time I came back they would put away whatever they shouldn’t be doing when I got there.  I would teach them what I had learned in the parenting class or the Pray the Word class and they would listen.

After two years I was transferred to the Coffield Unit.   I asked God to open the doors that he wanted to open for me.  After talking to the Chaplain for a short time he made me the assistant worship leader.  The Major called me and said he had heard good reports about me.  He said I’d like for you to work in the Education Department.  There were 16 teachers in this department.  I remember one day when I was reading my Bible in the counselor’s office; there were three teachers in there along with the counselor.  I began to teach them about humbling ourselves before God.

One day I was stuck in a sally port for over an hour with another inmate waiting for count to clear.   I was sitting down reading my Bible and the other guy asked me what I was reading.  I was reading I Corinthians 3.  I told him I was reading about how the Holy Spirit will lead us.   I prayed with him and he let out a big sigh.  I didn’t know at the time that he was the leader of the Bloods.  A few days later we connected again and he told me that when I had prayed for him, he felt a great peace.  He now wanted to leave the gang life but knew there could be deadly consequences.  I prayed with him and told him that we must obey God and not man.  He left the gang life and now teaches and inspires other inmates at that unit.

Another day I was teaching a group of inmates in the dayroom.  There was a man over in the corner that seemed to be ignoring me.  However, when I finished he came up and said, “Every-thing I’ve wanted to know you just taught me.”  He was a member of the Tango Blast Gang.  He went back to his locker where he had drugs and all kinds of contraband.  He called some of the other gang members to come get this stuff.  He said, “I’m done!”  He said, “You know they’re going to kill me.”  I said, “No, we’re going to stand on God’s Word for protection.”  I gave him the Pray the Word book.  We prayed and fasted.  On Friday he left my bunk after prayer to meet with the members.  He came back later with a big smile saying, “They let me go!” 

During my time at Coffield I got a letter from my wife saying she was moving on.  I found out through her mom that she was seeing one of my friends.   God told me to just forgive her and let her go.  He said, “I will restore all.”  I stood on Isaiah 61:7, “For your shame you shall have double….”

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After two years I was transferred to the Coffield Unit.   I asked God to open the doors that he wanted to open for me.  After talking to the Chaplain for a short time he made me the assistant worship leader.  The Major called me and said he had heard good reports about me.  He said I’d like for you to work in the Education Department.  There were 16 teachers in this department.  I remember one day when I was reading my Bible in the counselor’s office; there were three teachers in there along with the counselor.  I began to teach them about humbling ourselves before God.

I also had many opportunities in the body of Christ at Michael Unit.  I quickly became the MC for the services.  I was put in the newly opened faith based dorm where I got to teach the Pray the Word class in the morning and Revolution for Men in the evening when I got off work. 

I had been told that with an aggravated (3G) charge I would have to do at least 8 years before I came up for parole.  Put at a few months over 5 years I got an FI-2 parole approval. That means I will be home in two months.   However, thirty days before going home some false charges were brought against me.  The officers that were once friendly to me were now acting like my enemy.  They put me in cuffs and walked me past the chow line where many men were lined up.  I felt so humiliated but I said, “God, I trust you.” I started to sing and praise the Lord.  They locked me up in segregation for five days.  The only thing I had was my little red Bible. I looked at it as a time of prayer and fasting. 

They finally came and got me out to go to a hearing.  I was excited to see a Captain that I had a great relationship with.  Quickly I felt the dagger of his wrath.  I couldn’t believe it. I was facing new charges.  I finally heard the words, “We find you guilty.”  They told me I wouldn’t be going home now; I lost my FI-2 parole. They took me back to my cell.  Three days later the Warden called me out.  She asked me what happened; something seemed off because I had never had a case before.  She asked me to wait outside for awhile.  She had a Captain and a Lieutenant in the office with her.  While outside her door I prayed in the Spirit. She said I am going to reassign you out of the Education Department.  She reassigned me to the clerk position at the meat locker plant. 

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Once again God ordered my steps.  At this position I had the time to study my Bible.  There was a radio there so I got to listen to Christian programming and Christian music. A week later the education department, where I had been working when this trouble came, was raided and they found drugs in the area.  The porters were arrested and got new charges.  God had used that trouble to get me out of there for my good.  He taught me to trust Him even more. Seven days later I was released.

I faced new challenges when I got home but I had stood on Joel 2:25-26 for restoration:

And I will restore to you the years that the locusts have eaten.  And you shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God.

I had to release and forgive my wife and friend while I was in prison.  Within a few months of my release I met and eventually married a wonderful, beautiful woman.  She is more than I could have every imagined.  She and her sons have brought tremendous joy to my life.

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I eventually got an entry level at a local plant.    I believed God could move me up in the company.  On break one day I gave my advice to another employee about a conveyor belt problem.  He got me moved up to a better position. I was studying to get my electrical certification on my break time.  One day I was clocking out at the same time as the assistant manager.  I asked him if it would be better to have an in-house HVAC tech over contractors.  I pulled out my wallet where I had my OSHA Certification, HVAC, Welding, etc. “Why haven’t you said something,” he replied.     The next day I was hired as their electrician.  I am now the manager of the maintenance department at the company. 

 

I thank God everyday for the restoration and favor He has brought to my life.  I continue to seek His guidance for my life.  God is no respecter of persons. [Acts 10:34] He can do the same for you if you will put your trust in Him. 

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Jerry and his wife reside in Paris, TX and attend and serve at Calvary Chapel.   Jerry is active with prison ministries all around Texas