Category Archives: Christianity in jail

Double homicide revenge

In response to a stepdad throwing boiling beans on his kids, Billy hunted down the suspect and murdered him and his uncle.

“I was so out of my mind,” Billy says on a Tony Evans video, “My kids were my life. I wasn’t thinking rationally and reasonably. All I was thinking about was revenge.”

A year later, he was arrested and began a long sentence.

Billy’s parents split when he was only six years old. He was left to his dad’s care but wanted desperately to find his mom. He would walk down the highway looking for his mom. Eventually, he found her. She was a functional alcoholic.

As an adolescent, Billy met a girl and got her pregnant. He was happy to be having a boy, “even though I was just a boy myself,” he says. But the child was stillborn.

He had two daughters with the young lady, but he didn’t know how to be a father or a husband, and she left him for another man.

The new man abused his daughters and got arrested, along with his former partner (who was taken into custody for child endangerment).

Billy boiled with rage.

“I would begin to consume enormous amounts of alcohol,” Billy recalls. “I consumed whatever it was to take my mind off of its original state to keep from having to deal with these issues.”

When a couple of friends notified him that the perpetrator had been released on bond, “my next question was, where is he?” Billy says. “I made my way over to the condominium where this uncle and he were and I murdered them.”

Billy spent five years in county jail awaiting trial, ultimately taking a plea-bargain deal that gave him 30 years, reduced to seven if behaved well in jail.

Ultimately, he didn’t “behave well” in jail.

“I had so much hate, anger, and bitterness and resentment that would just roll into my life and other people around me,” he says. “I began to express my faithfulness to rebellion so much that in fact the other gang members started to recognize me.”

He liked the recognition and respect he earned by getting into trouble.

Transferred to a prison in Amarillo, Texas, BIlly got caught up in a gang riot that left one man in critical condition. The man was air-lifted to the hospital, where he lingered between life and death.

Three inmates who were supposedly “brothers” in Billy’s gang, fingered him as the responsible man behind the brutal beating. The warden called in Billy and produced the signed accounts accusing him. If spelled the death penalty for him. His only hope was that the beaten man would somehow survive in the hospital. Read the rest: revenge and redemption in Texas

Jim Wahlberg broke out of drugs and crime to Jesus

Jim Wahlberg was the consummate hustler. In prison for hustling, he hustled the prison system — leading a 12-step program under the pretense of being reformed — just to earn an early release for good behavior.

“I was always a hustler, was always manipulative, just to get what I wanted, and I did whatever I had to get it,” Jim observes on a CBN video.

The older brother to Mark Wahlberg actually had no intention of changing his substance-abusing, robbery-financed lifestyle once he was out.

But then the hustler got hustled — by the prison priest.

The priest took an interest in him and tried to strike up conversations. Since Jim was doing janitorial work to earn brownie points with the correction officers, the priest asked him to clean the chapel after attending mass.

The trick worked. Jim began to read his Bible. When Mother Theresa came one day in 1988, he felt God.

“You’re more than the crimes that you’ve committed to be here,” she told the prisoners at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Concord. You’re more than your prison ID number. You are a child of God.’”

The fifth of nine kids born to a delivery driver dad and a bank clerk mom, Jim was shaped by the mean streets of Boston’s Irish working-class neighborhood of Dorchester. When he realized that middle class kids had more things than he did, he began stealing to even the score.

“I started taking things that didn’t belong to me, so that I could try to live up to the way they got to live,” he says.

His first arrest came at age 10. After release, he did the same things.

“I start drinking alcohol under the pretense of ‘I’m celebrating,’ right? But I wasn’t celebrating. I was medicating myself,” says Jim. “I would drink to try to get rid of the shame and those feelings of self-loathing. It’s all rooted in fear. Fear of what you think of me. Fear of not being good enough. I was trying to soothe that fear, that uncomfortability.”

One day, he woke up in a jail cell lying in his own blood. What was his luck? The house he had broken into belong to a police officer. For home invasion, he could get life in prison, but the cop advocated leniency at the hearing, and 17-year-old Jim got only six to nine years.

“I felt completely defeated and broken and I felt resigned to the fact that this was the way my life was gonna be forever,” says Jim.

That’s when he launched into the good behavior ruse to get an early release.

“It was part of that hustle. Just trying to create the illusion that I was getting better in prison,” says Jim. “And always thinking when I get out, I’ll use it again.”

The guile was so good that he even got to leading 12 step programs for prisoners trying to recover from substance abuse.

Then the priest moved in and showed genuine love and concern for Jim. He attended mass only to placate the priest who urged him to clean up the chapel afterwards (since Jim was doing janitorial work anyhow).

Jim had no idea who Mother Theresa was, so when the priest announced her coming visit, it didn’t mean a thing to Jim.

Nevertheless, the titan of charity in a small frame made an impact on Jim, who for the first time actually felt God.

“I felt the presence of God in my heart,” he remembers.

He felt prompted to pray: “God, help me to be the person that you want me to be. I can’t continue to be this person. Help me to be free of this life.”

But his fleeting experience didn’t completely transform him. When he was released, he maintained a semblance of respectability and reform but didn’t attend church. He married and worked as executive director to his brother Mark’s youth foundation.

“When you feel His presence and you walk away from it, there’s guilt, there’s shame, but there’s also sort of a sense that it’ll never happen for you again,” says Jim. Read the rest: Jim Wahlberg Christianity.

Sean Wheeler: forgiving the types of abusers who abused him

He was sexually exploited, beaten and filmed for child pornography from age 5 to 9, and now Sean Wheeler goes to meetings to minister to pedophiles.

“How can a man like you forgive a man like me?” asked him a man who did prison for possession of child pornography.

“Because he forgives me,” Sean answered without missing a beat. “We complicate it. God forgives me and I’m required to forgive you. And I do so joyously, because in doing that, I discovered that it’s real.

“Look at somebody who was on the other side of that camera,” he continued. “I release you. Now you take it to the cross and you find that freedom and that forgiveness.

“You can see this weight fall off this man,” Sean recounts on a 100Huntley video.

As sexual exploitation metastasizes across our nation, Christianity’s response may be the only real answer — along with justice — for victim and exploiter.

“I just got tired of remembering my life as defined by something that was evil,” Sean says. “So the Holy Spirit came along and said: ‘I got something better. Come home.’”

For four years, Sean Wheeler got taken advantage of by men. The first time, an adult managed to get him out of the public view and took advantage of him in private. From then on, a group of seven college-aged men exploited him. Sometimes they beat him, sometimes they filmed him.

“I tell people, ‘Look, I went through that and I got beaten and I got used in child pornography and I got all kinds of things that happened to me,” Sean says. “But that is not the end of my story. If it happened to you or somebody you know, that’s not the end of yours or theirs.”

Sean alerted no one of his abusers. He was afraid. Also, as is typical with abuse victims, he blamed himself: “I believed it was my fault, which is a common thing,” he says.

At age 9, Sean somehow asked God to help, and his family moved out of town and out of the clutches of these evil men. The abuse ended, but the haunting memories did not.

He came to Christ, but it wasn’t until he started counseling in 2011 that he was able to work through a lot of the issues that were plaguing his head.

“I’m perfectly comfortable talking about this because God is with us everywhere we go,” Sean says.

For many, the idea that their pornographic images may still lurk somewhere on the Internet — perhaps on the Dark Web — torments them.

But Sean says God has transformed his image.

“He’s restored my picture and he’s restored my voice and he says you take that hope and you share it,” he says. “If it wasn’t the hand of God at work in the life of a nine-year-old, I don’t know what would have happened to me.

“The God we serve is a protector of the innocent and He rushes to our help when we cry out to Him,” Sean says.

Sean’s healing is so complete he has ministered to 400 victims of sexual exploitation and helped them through counseling.

“For years I had heard that God can make people new,” Sean says. “I said that’ll never happen to me. But I get it now. He makes us new.”

Not only that, he ministers to victimizers, the criminals who have exploited boys like him. Read the rest: Sexual abused as a child, he ministers to abusers as an adult

Miss America Asya Branch leaned on Jesus when Dad was imprisoned

Not everything was beautiful in the new Miss America’s early life.

When Asya Branch was 10, her father was arrested at home for involvement with an armed robbery. Little Asya watched terrified from the car as her dad was hauled away.

“That day our lives changed forever,” Asya told the New York Daily News. “We had a beautiful home and a great life. When they found out that my father was in prison, people looked at us differently. That was a critical stage in my life and it ended up changing me. I felt this overwhelming shame.”

Three things ensued. Asya and her family lost their farm home as the bank foreclosed. She felt alone and abandoned. And she grew closer to Jesus.

“My father’s incarceration played an enormous role in my life and helped me develop characteristics I never imagined. It taught me responsibility at a young age and to count my blessings,” Asya said on Mississippi Pageant. “But most of all, it strengthened my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Asya was born the sixth of eight siblings to her parents, living in Booneville, Mississippi at the time. Before stepping into a wayward life, her dad was a retired military veteran. Her mom was a teacher’s assistant. She was a gregarious kid who spent her days entertaining family members. If no one was around, she would bury herself in a book.

Asked what one book she would take to a deserted island, she answered unequivocally: “My Bible, not only for the quality reading but for inspiration and guidance in the circumstances in which I would find myself.”

A self-described “daddy’s girl,” Aysa said there was no one to help her through the trying times of losing her dad to the prison system. Her father, she says, had tried to help a drifter by taking him in. But that young man had committed an armed robbery, and for trying to help a needy soul, her daddy paid a high price.

“There were no resources nor advocates available for me,” she says. “People don’t recognize the hardships I have faced in my life because I have learned to be strong through my circumstance, keep a smile on my face and lean upon the Lord.” (Asya is advocating for prison reform and even spoke to President Trump about it.)

“I struggled with my self-worth and closed myself off, praying for answers about why this happened,” she wrote in Guideposts. “Maybe God is teaching me to be independent and grateful, I thought.”

In desperation and loneliness one night, she cried out to Jesus and renewed her relationship. Read the rest: Asya Branch Miss America Christian

Shot caller threatened to kill inmate who evangelized

IMG2008133318HI“Today is tomorrow.”

The words didn’t make any sense to Chaplain Dan, but he could see from the face of the inmate at LA’s North County Correctional Facility that something was very wrong.

As it turns out, the shot-caller had told him he would “deal with him tomorrow.” The shot-caller, the Alpha male for 70 inmates in one dorm, didn’t like the fact that the Mexican Mafia was losing traction and the Gospel was gaining traction.

“Who is inviting y’all to the Christian meetings?” he demanded one day. He needed recruits. He needed sway. He needed foot soldiers to join the ranks of one of California’s most powerful crime syndicates. And Christianity was getting in the way of his purposes.

Later that night, the inmate approached the shot-caller.

“No disrespect to you, but I’m the one inviting all the guys to the Christian meetings,” he said.

“I’ll deal with you tomorrow,” the shot-caller warned.

He knew what that meant: either he or one of his minions would brutally attack him. Read the rest: Christianity in Jail.