weed growing through crack in pavementWhen he was eighteen years old, Chuck came up with a plan. He would break into a house and go to prison. From there, he could relocate to a bigger city and start over.

Chuck’s childhood had been so characterized by neglect, rejection and dysfunction that he could think of no better option.

It started when Chuck was eighteen months old. His mother died of a brain aneurysm, and his grandparents sued his alcoholic father for custody. Chuck went to live with his grandparents, who also cared for his seven cousins.

There, his grandmother did her best to raise the children, but she often terrified Chuck with stories about his father, stories that caused Chuck to suffer from horrible nightmares.

Eventually, Chuck’s grandfather died, and his grandmother remarried. After fighting with his grandmother’s new husband, Chuck was kicked out of the house. He was homeless at age fifteen.

At one point, Chuck remembers going back to his grandmother’s house because he was cold and hungry. “She basically shooed me away, as if I were a stray animal,” he says.

By age eighteen, Chuck had been sent to reform school and a children’s home. He had even lived with his abusive father, who had pointed a loaded pistol at Chuck’s head while drunk. Prison seemed like an escape.

Chuck followed through with his burglary plan and ended up in prison. He was released three years later but still carried a lot of pain with him. He turned to alcohol and was unable to hold down a job. Before long, Chuck was back in prison.

“I simply didn’t care,” he says. “My father had already passed away five years prior, and my grandmother passed two years earlier. I was not a stranger to grief.”

For twenty years, Chuck was in and out of prison, in and out of relationships and in and out of church. He even went to rehab several times but was unsuccessful.

“I always managed to keep God at a distance because I felt I didn’t really want to stop sinning. I just wanted to stop drinking,” Chuck remembers.

But finally, in 2010, Chuck was ready to change his life, and he committed everything to Christ. The next year, he began taking CBI’s discipleship courses, which taught him how to live faithfully as a new creation.

About the same time, Chuck discovered another means of living out his new identity. Inspired by a poem he had read, he started writing his own. He averaged ten or fifteen poems a day for several weeks.

Now, although his pace has slowed, Chuck is still writing. “My desire is to share the Gospel in a way that will reach and penetrate the most calloused heart,” he says.

And Chuck’s desire has come to fruition. His poems were published in CBI’s Crossroad Journal of the Arts in 2011 and 2012, meaning that his work has reached tens of thousands of people around the world.

Through his calling as a poet, through his CBI courses and through his new way of life, Chuck is living with newfound hope in Christ his Savior—day by day and line by line.

[grid_4]These Walls
by Chuck M., TX

These walls enclose me,
Built so long ago.
The bricks are made from errors,
From things that won’t let go.

Somehow they seem to hinder
All I long to be,
To block the light of freedom
And kill a life that’s free.

These walls, they tell a story
Of a life that spoke a lie—
Unwanted and confused,
So much that made me cry.

These walls must soon come down.
No longer will I hide.
I’ll tear them down brick by brick,
These walls I’ve built inside.

Another path, another plan,
A brand-new day, a brand-new man:

Restoration for all that’s broken,
Real help if I should fall,
To walk the path that’s laid before me
And give to God my all in all.


Wheat and Weeds
by Chuck M., TX

Growing together,
The wheat and the weeds . . .
The weeds, they are confused
And controlled by what they need,
But the wheat stands firm
With sincere desire to please
Our heavenly Father, the maker of us all.
Wheat hears His voice;
Wheat heeds His call.
Weeds tell lies
And enjoy deceit.
They wrap themselves
Around the feet of the wheat.
Although conflict may abound,
There will be no mistake,
Because wheat is real,
But weeds are fake.
Wheat craves love;
Weeds crave hate.
So brothers and sisters,
Be aware of the choices
That you make,
For only the Lord can make you complete
And change a worthless weed
Into a golden grain of wheat.