“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (1 John 5:11)
Growing up in the hood, I experienced a lot… including the good, the bad, and the ugly.
While facing a life sentence in the Los Angeles County Jail I wasn’t sure that I’d get a second chance at freedom beyond the prison walls. It was only 12 days after being arrested that I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. At that point, I had true freedom even though I wasn’t sure I’d ever leave that facility. Within about 12 months, I accepted a plea bargain of 11 years and the State of California sent me to prison.
It was there at CTF-Soledad that God opened up doors and relationships that were forged. They still impact my life to this day. Through God’s amazing grace, I served 6 years of the 11 year sentence and have now been a free man for over 14 years.
The Lord had started working in and through me in the county jail. There were occasional chapel services due to so much violence between inmates. We had chaplain visits to our cells, and we had bible studies in the dorm units.
It was in state prison that I got involved in ministry and served in the chapel program. There were dozens of chapel volunteers from the free world who came to minister to us and a handful that really stood out in a powerful way; then AND now.
2nd Chance Outreach Ministries was a tremendous blessing to me while I was on the inside, and even more since my release back into the “real world” on the outside. CJ, his wife, and children have been faithful to minister the Word of God, to lead worship and to live lives worthy of their callings.
While inside, CJ would share the Word and stir our hearts through worship. They would send monthly newsletters to keep us encouraged in between visits. They lived in Southern California at the time and would travel to visit us in Central California, which is about an 8 hour drive each direction.
What really stands out about 2nd Chance Outreach Ministries is that being a blessing to me didn’t stop when I paroled out of prisons. CJ has invited me to worship with them at their home church, welcomed me into their home. He and his wife blessed me and my wife on our wedding day with the composition he wrote and performed at his wedding 30 years ago. CJ has invited me to minister as part of his ministry team at the San Diego Rescue Mission as well as many local churches. CJ invited me to join him on TBN to share what God had done and continues to do in our lives.
When I have victories, I share them with CJ.
When I have failures, I share them with CJ, and he gives me wisdom and grace.
When I have struggles personally, with my marriage, with my children and with the challenges of life, I share them with CJ and he takes time to listen, pray and demonstrate unconditional love.
When I give, I give to 2nd Chance.