“If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.”
These lyrics from Michael Jackson’s song “Man in the Mirror” resound with CBI student Troy as he reflects on his past. “As I look back on the last fifty-some years of my life, it is very painful to think about,” Troy says. “It’s hard for me to learn to love that man in the mirror that the late Michael Jackson used to sing about.”
At twelve years old, Troy found himself without a male role model after his father passed away. “Not having a father’s presence during my growing years was devastating to me,” he says. “I feel that I needed that factor in my life to develop into a man.”
Grief-stricken and alone, Troy turned to alcohol and drugs to fill the void in his life. He found himself in a vicious cycle of substance abuse and couldn’t seem to get out. “At the time I was too young to know it, but what I needed was the help of my heavenly Father to deal with the pain associated with losing a loved one,” Troy acknowledges.
In 2012, Troy ended up in county jail, awaiting a court date when his fate would be decided: anywhere from five years to ninety-nine years in prison for burglary. In despair, he cried out to God. “I prayed and prayed for His forgiveness, love, grace and mercy,” Troy remembers.
Then he met some Christian men in the jail who prayed with him and helped him find his way back to God. With renewed hope, he began to anticipate a positive outcome at his trial.
Unfortunately, the trial didn’t go the way he wanted. “I received a twenty-five year sentence, which destroyed all of my faith, hope and dreams and any spiritual strength I had acquired,” Troy says. “I put my cross, my Bible and all my studies on top of the trash can because I didn’t think that God cared anymore.”
The man in the mirror who stared back at Troy seemed hopeless, directionless and defeated.
But God wasn’t finished with Troy. “It took nearly a year, but I gradually started getting my faith back,” he recalls. “I started getting involved in different classes, little by little.”
In 2013, Troy signed up to take lessons through Crossroad Bible Institute. “What caught my eye about the pamphlet on the chapel’s table was the word ‘Crossroad,’” Troy recalls. “Your Bible study is a very healthy source of spiritual food, and I am always hungry for it.”
Leaving his old self in the past, Troy has discovered a new direction for his life. “I believe that God has been calling me into the ministry for quite some time now, but I let the failures of my past and a lack of faith in God and in myself hold me back from answering God’s call,” he says. “I have submitted my will and life to the Lord’s will.”
Troy has been studying God’s Word faithfully through CBI for three years. “Crossroad Bible Institute helps me to keep my mind on Christ and the fact that I can have spiritual freedom no matter where I am in life,” he says.
Troy is finally starting to see the man in the mirror the way God sees him: as a forgiven son, physically incarcerated but spiritually free.