CBI student Shannon was featured in Crossroad Extra last year. Since then, he has been released from prison and has begun his reentry journey. He recently wrote to Crossroad to share about how the ministry has impacted his life.
Before I left prison on December 20, 2013, I was well entrenched in the CBI discipleship program. As I grew in faith, I became confident in sharing my faith, leading Bible studies with my peers and counseling others to seek answers to their trials via the Word of God. The positive feedback and encouragement from my CBI Instructors helped to solidify my decision to continue my walk in Christ when released.
In addition to the lessons, I wrote CBI’s Reentry Program and asked for information regarding halfway houses and employment agencies that cater to ex-felons. Several weeks after I wrote CBI with my request, I received a packet of information that pertained to my requests. I felt informed and prepared to draft a successful aftercare plan.
On December 20, 2013, after serving thirty months, I was released in Illinois and transported to [a jail in Missouri] where I had to face two outstanding charges. The first offer by the prosecutor was twenty years. By God’s grace, my new Missouri-based attorney was able to explain my narrative, and probation was considered. Unfortunately, I would have to sit in the county jail until late summer.
I initially was shocked and upset that I would have to sit for another six to eight months on crimes that paled in comparison to what I committed in Illinois. But thanks to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, I quickly rediscovered the inner peace and joy that helped me to survive prison in Illinois. I recalled my CBI lesson on God’s sovereignty and happily surrendered to His will.
Throughout my time in the county jail, I fellowshipped with other Christian inmates at daily Bible studies and chapel services. Thanks to my CBI training, my knowledge was significantly greater than my peers’. Therefore, I was designated, unofficially, the facilitator of our Bible studies. In chapel services, based on my zeal for the Lord and Spirit-filled countenance, the volunteer ministers quickly discerned that I was genuine and sincere in my Christian walk. I was truly humbled when they constantly asked me to open and/or close our service in prayer. I even was asked by a volunteer evangelist to lay hands on him and pray as he prepared for an upcoming revival in Africa. Based on how my peers and the volunteers received me in a positive manner, my calling to the ministry grew louder.
On March 21, 2014, I went to my monthly court appearance. On this particular day, my attorney asked me how I would feel to go home today. Shocked and in disbelief, I could not speak. I was now a free man. This act of mercy by the prosecutor was clearly the work of God. I humbly went back to my cell and prepared to leave the county jail.
I obviously was not prepared for being released, so I had to scramble to get my belongings together, exchange addresses with my peers and call my friend to pick me up. At 6:00 p.m., the corrections officer buzzed my room and told me to “bunk and junk.” As a free man, I constantly thanked God as my friend drove me to his home. I looked at my CBI reentry information packet and decided to call Mission Gate Ministry.
I am now a resident at Mission Gate and am glad that I adhered to the ‘small voice’ that led me here. It was very humbling to go to an employment agency and fill out an application for jobs that were manual labor oriented. My work experience was primarily in management. A week after filling out the application, I was called to my first job, which consisted of cleaning out a warehouse. It was the dirtiest, most physically demanding job I ever had. However, because Colossians 3:23 is etched in my heart, I was joyful every day as I performed at a high level for our Lord.
As for my future, I have been approached by several friends with great entrepreneurial opportunities. I am humbled that my past is an afterthought with these people. I will take my time and ask God for direction in choosing one or several of these options. I also plan on joining the Mission Gate prison ministry as I am driven to share my story of God’s grace and mercy with those behind bars. I also am planning a long-term goal of becoming a Christian counselor. Mission Gate’s staff is more than willing and capable to assist me in my spiritual endeavors.
That is my story so far. God bless CBI!