November 18, 2001 was the date that the Lord decided to give me a 7 year TIME OUT in one of California’s state correctional facilities. I had been straddling the prison fence for years. Even when I was not giving the Lord my attention and was not serious about him at all, somehow he had his hand on my life. I had a horrible addiction to meth for over 20 years. Let’s just say, I was a real idiot; committing armed robberies, burglaries and other acts of mayhem. On this day, I was actually relieved to get arrested. I was so tired of the madness of addiction, but I didn't have the courage to doing anything about it. That night in my jail cell I got down on my knees and let the Lord know that I was done, and that I was His unconditionally. I asked him if He would be so kind to give this wreck of a person a second chance. Let me tell you, at that moment I felt that the whole weight of my addiction and my crazy life was lifted from my very being. I immediately felt the Lord’s forgiveness for all the hurt I had caused to known and unknown individuals, family and friends.
I was sent to Centinela State Prison to start what turned out to be my intensive Bible college. Centinela is known for having a well established group of volunteers to help those who want to learn more about Jesus. While I was on A yard level 3 (medium security), I was blessed to be able to go chapel after a few weeks upon my arrival. One day I walked in and couldn’t believe my eyes. There stood the man who had planted the seed of Christ in my heart when I was just a little boy. Pastor Huff was one of the Leaders of Boy’s Brigade that I attended at a church in Imperial, CA when I was just 7 or 8 years old. I instantly remembered that Pastor Huff was a true man of God, and part of me felt a peace like being at home.
Well, some may call it luck; others would call it a Divine Appointment. The prison was coming off lock down, and as I was entering the chapel for Sunday services, I felt as if I was getting ready to be extremely blessed this day. As I was going to my seat I saw a gentle, unfamiliar man talking with Pastor Huff, and I could tell that they were good friends; one might say like old buddies. As CJ was setting up his equipment, I noticed a calm, friendly atmosphere around him that was so special and welcoming. As he was sharing the Word, you could feel an anointing of The Holy Spirit that brought a peace and a wonderful blessing from the Lord. The message CJ shared with us was spot on. He spoke how the Lord forgives, and how we too can have a second chance at life through Jesus Christ as long as we totally surrender to Him. The way that he delivers the Word of hope and redemption through Jesus Christ is so easy to understand and apply to our lives. The music that he shared was also anointed and absolutely touched my heart like so few others have.
Through the years while I was in prison, I was blessed to get to know CJ better because he came to visit often and share the Good News of Jesus. I felt that I wanted to be an active part of his ministry, so I started to send him my monthly earnings from my job in prison. At 15 cents an hour, it didn't add up to much, but it was all I had to give. It was a huge blessing to freely give as the Lord freely gave to me.
Upon my release in 2008 I was treated to a wonderful lunch with CJ. He actually came to my house, picked me up and took me to a job interview and to lunch. He touches lives and represents hope and peace through Jesus inside and outside of prison. I have been honored to be able to share my testimony as part of his team many times in venues outside of prison. It is truly a humbling experience to be able to share my story with those who are traveling the same path I walked for so many years of addiction and being a knucklehead. It’s been such an inspiration to tell them how the Lord took me just like I was. He freed me from my addiction, restored my life, my family, and friends through the incredible blood of Jesus.
CJ has been, and will continue to be, a brother to me and many others that he has helped come to the Lord in prisons, rescue missions and churches. For more than two decades, he’s delivered a message of hope through Jesus Christ.
I absolutely love CJ’s music and the ministry of 2nd CHANCE. They have really enhanced my relationship with the Lord. They’ve helped me draw closer to Jesus, and I’m honored and grateful to share these words with you.