Yesterday I had the honor and the privilege to speak to 70 inmates at the Edgefield Federal Correctional Institution. When I walked in, I felt welcomed by all the inmates but also felt a passion stir inside of me that came directly from the Holy Spirit. As I got ready to speak, I looked around at men of all different ages, races, religions, and backgrounds that had made poor choices due to learned behaviors, traumas, substance use disorder, and/or other mental health conditions. I saw a group of men that despite their unfortunate circumstances, had something in common…. A desire to change.
This was made clear when I started to speak because every mans focus was tuned in and there eyes opened and heads nodded as I shared a story that many of them can relate too.
See, I use to wear a jumpsuit almost identical to theirs. I made poor choices due to traumas, learned behaviors, my environments, and substance use disorder. But after living life on viscous cycle that caused harm to me and others and resulted in jails, institutions, and almost death, I received a gift of desperation that pushed me to a point of doing 3 things.
Being Honest with myself , Open-Minded to a new way of life and thinking, and Willing to do whatever it takes to recover and serve others.
That was the main idea behind my message. To offer hope through sharing my experience, offer solutions by expressing the power of God in my life, and sharing the daily actions I took that built up over time to change my world and the world of others around me.
I was assured of the Spirit led message when several shared encouraging responses at the end. One gentleman stated,” It’s hard for a hard headed guy like me to take advice, but I took to everything you said. Thank you.”
As they get ready for release, My hope and prayer is that every single one of them finds their purpose in living a life for God, serving others, and sharing their own stories to reach a community they have influence in.\
All of them have a story. Everyone needs hope.