I was only 23 years old, serving a year in the county jail for my third felony conviction. I laid on the top bunk in my cell staring at the ceiling. I wasn’t a Christian and didn’t know much about God, but I prayed the same prayer that everyone who has ever been locked up has prayed.
“Dear God, please let this be my last time going to jail.”
I heard a “no.”
Now, this wasn’t an audible voice or like the baptism of Jesus when God the Father opened the clouds and spoke, but it was a strong thought in my head, like a kid who doesn’t get the answer he wants.
I asked again and got another no.
So, I laid back down on my bunk and thought to myself that this prayer stuff doesn’t work. Then, all of a sudden, just daydreaming, not a vision, I saw calendar years in my head. Now, I don’t know how to explain this because I am not Pentecostal. I’m Baptist. I was just daydreaming. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen prison tattoo art, but the calendar years are like scrolls. These calendar years started popping into my head. I got this bad feeling, because of what I just asked and thought, I’m not trying to do all that time. The crazy thing is that I got all those calendar years tattooed on my arm because I ended up doing all of those years and no other years but those years.
Then, just daydreaming, I saw myself preaching behind a pulpit and heard “you’re going to be a pastor and you’re going to serve me.” Let me remind you, I don’t really know how to explain this, but I laughed out loud and said, “Yeah right. Not me.” Then I saw the number 33 and was like what’s that supposed to mean?
I quickly forgot my daydream and when I got released, I moved up to Las Vegas. Las Vegas is fast and, for a driven person like me, I wanted it all. I ended up catching 3 more felonies and did state and federal prison time.
In my last term, I was in federal prison serving 4 years. When they gave me my release date, it said that I was going to get out when I was 33. At that moment, God reminded me of my daydream. I started adding up all of the years that I had done and then it hit me. I literally did every one of those years and no other years but those years.
That really messed me up.
I thought to myself, “What? Am I supposed to be a pastor and go into ministry when I get out?” Then, I thought, no, not me. I saw this Bible and thought, well, just in case, I might as well start reading it.
So, I read the Bible five times from front to back when no one was looking.
After serving a long term, I was finally released on a beautiful Christmas Eve morning. Merry Christmas, right?! Five days later, on a Saturday night, I was sitting alone, drinking, when I remembered that day. I remembered telling God that it was funny that all those years happened, but you said 33. My 34th birthday was in 2 weeks and there was no way that I was going to totally turn my life around and go into ministry. Yet, because of everything that had happened, I told God I was going to go to church tomorrow, but first He had to show me something. Now, I know that we’re not supposed to test God, but I did. I’m human.
The very next day I went to this big mega church that just opened and I made sure that I sat right in the middle of the front row so I wouldn’t miss a thing. As the worship team came out and started singing, I looked around and saw people worshiping. I thought to myself, “What do I have to lose?” So, I got down on my knees and threw my hands up in surrender. I said, “I’m here God. I’ll serve you. I’ll give my life to you. I’ll do whatever you want me to do. But you’ve got to show me that all this stuff is real.”
I remembered that when you give your life to Christ, the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of you. I then told God, “I will follow you,” and to put His Holy Spirit inside of me. Instantly I felt overwhelmed and started crying. I had just got out of prison and didn’t want people to see me cry, so eventually I got up and went to the lobby where they had several gray couches.
As soon as I sat down on the couch I started going through hot and cold sweats for about 15-20 minutes. So much so, that I was freezing cold and had sweat dripping onto the floor. Since it was a mega church, all of the pastors and security guards started running up to me, asking if I was ok, if I needed an ambulance, or if I needed to go to the hospital.
I started freaking out because I wasn’t coming down off of drugs and I wasn’t sick. One of the security guards touched me on the shoulder and said, “that’s the Holy Spirit.” All of a sudden it hit me. That is what I just asked for. God had fulfilled a ten-year promise in 13 days.
I got really scared and was afraid to get off the couch, because, for the first time in my life, I knew that God is real. And if God is real, then my sin is real. And if my sin and all the bad things that I had done are real, then things are real.
When I finally mustered up the courage to get off the couch, I stood up, and right there, right in front of me on the table was an application to become an intern pastor and start ministry. So, I said, “Okay God.”
I filled out the application and got started.
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