After a non-fatal car accident involving nine others and a DUI charge more than a decade ago, Ric found his life forever altered. He went on to spend 247 days in prison – a place of punishment that became a sanctuary of transformation.

During his first thirty days in prison, the only book he had was a Bible he received from Crossroads. He would go on to read through its words eight times, using several different translations, before his release.

Ric completed six Crossroads Bible study lessons and received several life-giving letters from mentors, before his release. God’s Word had changed him in prison, and Ric vowed to give back by becoming a Crossroads mentor someday.

“After my release, I packed up the ‘prison box’ and stuffed it under the bed. Way under the bed, like all the way in the back, behind the ferocious dust bunnies,” Ric said. “My promise to God that I would become a mentor was soon forgotten. I had MY life back.”

As Ric sat in pandemic lockdown this past year, home on furlough, he felt a nudge to pull out that old box from under his bed. “It sat there for a day or two,” he said. He started by organizing the letters by date, but as he saw the letters from his children, who had just left home to live on their own this year, he found tears filling his eyes.

And then he came across letters from his Crossroads mentors, which opened “the floodgates of emotion,” prompting him to search for Crossroads online and finally make good on his promise to become a mentor.

As Ric looked through the materials from his time inside prison twelve years prior, he rediscovered the Crossroads lessons and letters from his mentors. It’s hard to relive his prison days, but he is grateful that the letters from Crossroads mentors prompted him to give back as a mentor.

“I still have only read very few of the letters. It is so emotionally overwhelming,” Ric said. “But I find that working with my students provides a calming salve for my soul. I feel God working on me as I review and comment on the lessons.”

Those six lessons Ric completed more than a decade ago are still making an impact on his life.

Since Ric decided to follow God’s leading to become a mentor, he has found peace in a season when his career remains uncertain. His eyes have been opened to God’s provision in his life. “I am so glad God is working through me,” he told us.

At the end of each letter he writes, Ric shares a poem that he wrote while he himself was behind bars, encouraging his students just as his mentors once did for him.

Ric shared the poem with us, and we want to share it with you:

The Fence 

Before this, I sat on the fence of convenient belief, between the pasture of certainty and the desert of uncertainty. When pushed or fell, or most likely, jumped off into the desert, my discomfort caused me to cry for help. Why me? How could I be so abandoned? Why so alone to fend for myself? Anger and hostility were constant companions. However, in the pasture of certainty, into which I most certainly chose to go, I never questioned my success, for it was due to my hard work, my diligence, my self-righteousness. Never believing that both sides of the fence were under the province of the same controlling force. For it is impossible to know the difference: to enjoy the sweet sights and smells of the pasture of goodness, or to endure the agony and loneliness of the desert of bitterness, one must experience both. I have now an inkling of knowledge and understanding, and an abundance of faith and hope. For the fence is in the heart, not the mind. Its architect is self-doubt, its builder false pride, and it’s maintained by arrogance. I am caught in the desert, by my own hand. I question not, for I know. But as surely as I stand here, I am not alone. I am on my way back to the fence. Not to straddle it, never again. For my task now is to dismantle it and take it apart. And to use its posts, its timbers, and its nails, for they are strong and sturdy. I will construct a shelter in the pasture, a shelter of hope. A shelter for fellow travelers caught in the desert. So they will not find a fence, so they will know in their hearts, there is no difference between the two lands. They will find a shelter, a place to give thanks for the journey into the pasture of goodness. But more importantly, a shelter to provide them protection and comfort in the desert. A beacon of hope, to guide them out of the wilderness. For a traveler is never alone. Jesus walks every step of the way through both the desert and the pasture. Human choice is necessary, not to determine the destination, only to choose the traveling companion.