Timothy spent his high school summers volunteering on mission trips with a local church. But Timothy wasn’t a Christian—he was a professed atheist.

“Although the youth center [that I had joined] was separate from the church, they often invited us to events and missions,” Timothy remembered. “I began building houses in Mexico for this church but refused to be part of studies or talks about Jesus. The church members respected my stance about God; therefore, I wasn’t required to participate in studies or discussions.”

When he was eighteen, the volunteers were forced to relocate from their usual place of service because of cartel activity. Their new mission was to build a school for a recently established church in Mexico.

The pastor of the church observed the volunteers as they worked, and on the second day, he called Timothy to his office. Timothy reluctantly followed, expecting to receive a lecture about atheism and a boring testimony.

Instead, the pastor told Timothy a powerful account of his own path from atheism to belief in God. The pastor’s wife had passed away, leaving him to raise a young daughter who was diagnosed with terminal cancer not long after that. After initially cursing God, the pastor desperately made a deal with Him: if God would restore his daughter’s health, he would leave his job as an electrical engineer, become a pastor and build a church. And that’s exactly what happened.

“He ended with, ‘God is real,’” Timothy recalled. “I spent the rest of my mission thinking about his story. At the end of this mission, I believed God was real. I returned home and was immediately baptized the following Sunday.”

Soon after the trip, Timothy joined the Navy and started basic training. He quickly rose through the ranks to a leadership role, which brought its own challenges. “I sacrificed my sleep and health to succeed,” he said.

So, he made a similar bargain with God: if God would give him the strength he needed and help him continue to succeed, he would pursue a degree in theology and become a pastor.

“My success grew from there onward. I became influential, wealthy and respected. I had the life I dreamed of,” said Timothy. “Along the road of success, I forgot my promise. The rewards in life blinded me from God, and my arrogance became my downfall. I entrapped myself with deadly vices and lost everything I gained by going to prison.”

In a cold, dark prison cell, Timothy remembered the promise he had made to God. He discovered Crossroads through Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program and signed up as a student. For the last four years, he has been studying the Bible through Crossroads, and he was recently connected with a personal mentor in the Tier 2 program.

“Crossroads hasn’t been just another Bible study,” Timothy said. “They have sent more birthday cards and Christmas cards than any family member. They wrote letters when no one else would. They helped me fulfill an oath and kept me in their prayers. Ultimately, they connected me to God and demonstrated true Christian living.”

True to his word, Timothy is currently working hard to earn his degree in religious studies. He looks forward to what God may have in store for his future.

“As I near the end of my incarceration, I can only praise God for what He’s done for me,” he said. “Although I lost everything, He renewed me in such a powerful way. My testimony shows you cannot run from God because, in the end, you circle back to Him. I hope my testimony will inspire someone to persevere and seek God as I have.”

Crossroads mentors offer spiritual guidance, encouragement and friendship to people in prison who are seeking to know God and follow His will. Is God calling you to walk alongside someone like Timothy? Learn more about becoming a Crossroads mentor here.