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jesus-on-death-rowNate grew up in a single-parent home, having very little contact with his father. His mother was strict and even abusive at times, but he found comfort in attending church every week with his great-uncle and his grandmother. Uncle Paul was thrilled when, one Sunday, Nate accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his great-uncle shared a love of music, and Nate discovered his talent for the bass fiddle, performing in his school band and at church.

But when Nate and his mother moved to a different town, he was introduced to a new world of drugs and alcohol and he succumbed to his curiosity. Although he aspired to join the Marines or the Navy, his habits held him back and he ended up in a situation in which another man was killed. Instead of heading to boot camp, Nate headed to death row.

Nate discovered that in prison lurked the same difficult choices he’d faced on the outside. Drugs were just as easy to access behind bars. He struggled to avoid the drug culture, but he lacked the determination to change his ways permanently.

One night, as he listened to his radio in his cell, a radio preacher’s voice interrupted his thoughts. The preacher declared that no matter what the listeners had done, Jesus still loved them—they only needed to repent and turn back to the Lord. Nate knew those words were meant for him. As he realized how much of his life had been spent in disobedience to God, he wept and prayed for forgiveness.

With God on his side, Nate was finally able to commit to changing his life. He joined programs in prison to guide him on his spiritual journey and began memorizing Bible verses. In 2005, he signed up to receive lessons from Crossroad Bible Institute. Since then, he has faithfully worked his way through the first two tiers of study and has nearly finished all of CBI’s Tier 3 college-level courses. Nate’s Tier 3 Instructor, Betty, has spoken highly of Nate’s progress, commenting, “[Nate is] a blessing to instruct,” and “he always does a perfect job.”

In correspondence with his Instructor, whom he addresses as “Sister Betty,” Nate shared that a pastor named Dr. Ed Jenkins had been visiting him in prison and that not only was Ed writing a book about death row prisoners’ encounters with Jesus, but he would be including a chapter in that book about Nate. Nate is featured in Jenkins’ book Jesus on Death Row, published earlier this year.

In the chapter about Nate, Jenkins writes, “Nate is still on death row and has lost so much, but his life has never had more meaning. He has joy that steel, concrete and razor wire can’t take away.”

Being on death row can never take away Nate’s joy nor his relationship with his Savior. Nate wrapped up one of his recent letters to Betty by saying, “Be encouraged, knowing that God continues to mold and shape me into Christlikeness.”

Do you want to make a life-changing connection with someone in prison? Find out how to join our team of Instructors. Click here to purchase a copy of Jesus on Death Row.

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