In 1988 my family came back home from California, where my dad was stationed in the military. At that time we started going to my aunt and uncle’s church. They had prayed for us to come home and get into church. As a young man I decided I did not like church and I didn’t want to go there. One night in church I sat in the very back so as soon as the preacher was done talking, I could get out of there. The man of God began to preach and all of a sudden I felt a conviction and realized I needed to be saved for my sins. I almost didn’t go down to the alter because I was afraid of what others would think. Finally, I was so miserable I didn’t care what others thought I just wanted to get right with God. I went down and cried out to the Lord to save me. When I got up, I realized that everyone looked different and I realized that just a moment ago, I didn’t like that church or the people in it. Now felt an overwhelming love for them. The church I once hated I now have been going to for 30 something years.
A few years later, at the age of seventeen, I felt God calling me to preach. I was an introvert and scared of other people, but I wanted to do God’s will. Within a year of that time, God opened the door for me to go to a prison with one of the older gentlemen in my church. I was scared, but at the same time my heart was burdened for those men. Even after college, I always found myself going to prisons and jails. I will never forget the first time I got to lead someone to the Lord inside a small county jail in Georgia.
When I returned home to Florida, I met up with an old college friend who was a prison minister. I started going to prisons every time he was in Florida. Eventually, other prison ministers I knew invited me to go with them as well. At this point, many people I knew told me I should go into the prison ministry. At this point, I was not seeing myself as a prison minister. I had the burden but didn’t feel the calling.
Then one day, I had the opportunity to preach every other Sunday at Quincy Annex. Next, the door opens for me to go to Liberty South Unit every week. Next thing I knew, I was preaching at both institutions every week. As my burden for the men, increased my impression that God was calling me to this ministry was becoming clear.
During this time, God blessed me to come in contact with GEMS. The missionaries and board members love for souls and the burden to reach all inmates is contagious and helped fuel the calling and burden God placed on my heart. I will always consider the love and fellowship and encouragement from the GEMS family to be instrumental to my ministry.
All these influences leading up to this part of my ministry helped prepare me for the next step of what God had planned. The Lord opened the door for me to become a chaplain at Quincy CI. This is where I feel God has opened my heart in a special way. Every time I see the roles of chaplains, missionaries, and volunteers, I see how crucial their help is to the men and woman in the prison system. I thank the Lord for allowing me to be part of this.
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