I am no stranger to captivity. I was imprisoned to alcohol, I was imprisoned to meth, I was imprisoned to the state, and I was imprisoned to my past.
When I received my eight-year sentence, I promised myself that when I got out, I would not return to my old ways of living. This was the fourth time I had made this promise, but this time, I meant it.
I had given my life to Christ years earlier, but I never felt like I had fully surrendered to Him. There still was something keeping me bound from experiencing the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and I believed the chains of cigarette addiction were the one thing holding me back.
One day I was walking through the prison’s courtyard, when I overheard the testimony of a man who had asked the Lord to take his craving to smoke away. That night, I prayed that God would take the craving away for me too, and within a month, I had quit smoking cigarettes completely. Prayer certainly holds mighty power against enslavement.
I heard about JUMPSTART through a flyer, and I couldn’t help but think it was God giving me an opportunity to keep the promise I had made to myself. Four months into JUMPSTART, the pandemic hit and inside programming ceased. I was determined to complete the program and continued the curriculum despite the pause. I persisted and graduated with the highest-level certificate you could achieve.
I had experienced the transformation possible with JUMPSTART’s program, and I wanted my peers to experience it too. I tore the application out of the back of my curriculum book and made copies to give to my friends. I refused to give up on convincing my peers to join me, and now there are at least five of my former cellmates with me in JUMPSTART’s transitional outside program.
Before I left prison, I made a goal to accomplish three things: to be a part of a good church, to be of service to others, and to find employment with a nurturing environment. Just months into the outside program, I am an usher at a church I love, and I serve those in my community weekly through mission work. The pastor of my church personally offered me a job to work at his thrift store, and I am blessed to work with people who challenge me daily to grow in my relationship with Christ.
Everything I have, I owe to the God who sets the captives free. I am four years clean from all that once imprisoned me, including myself. God opened the door to my freedom, and JUMPSTART has helped me stay true to my promise of never going back to being the man that I used to be. With my eyes set on Christ, I am a prisoner no more.