Prison saved my life. It’s a paradoxical statement that we at Crossroads hear quite often.
Most people would describe prison as destructive rather than redemptive. But many Crossroads students tell us exactly the opposite.
Fernando has been a Crossroads student for seven years. An avid reader, he spends much of his time behind bars enjoying classic novels written by authors such as Dostoyevsky, Hemingway, Chekhov and Tolstoy. But his time in prison has caused him to explore another book – the Bible.
“Immersing myself in prayer and Scripture and Bible studies as I have these last several years has filled both my heart and my head with a much greater awareness and appreciation of the almighty presence in my life in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Fernando said. “Simply put, had I not come to prison, I would neither possess nor enjoy the deep, intrinsic and altogether so very all-important relationship that I now do with my Lord and Savior.”
Even more simply put, his time in prison pointed him to Jesus, and it saved his life.
Looking back at the past with regret, Fernando recognizes that his life was on the wrong track. He grew up believing in God, but never truly knew God. He allowed worldly distractions, addictions and emotions to take him captive until he was imprisoned not only spiritually, but physically as well.
But he is determined to count his prison sentence a blessing. “Only God can make a greater good come from a seemingly irretrievably bad circumstance,” he said. “I’m sorry it took coming to prison to set me straight, but it takes what it takes. Prison saved my life, and I’m grateful to God and to his only Son, my best friend. I am most unworthy, but most thankful.”
However, simply being thankful to God for saving his life isn’t enough for Fernando. He wants to bless others in return.
“I’ve heard it said that only ‘priests and prisoners’ have read the Bible cover-to-cover,” he states. “One of my goals for the future is to rectify that sad observation, to somehow get more people to read God’s wonderful Word.”
One of the ways he has been studying Scripture is by taking courses through Crossroads Prison Ministries. “I’m grateful to people and organizations like Crossroads, who with their terrific work, keep me honest and in touch with God’s Word in a very real, practical and meaningful way,” he said. “I believe I’ll be reaping the benefits of my participation with Crossroads for years.”
Fernando’s time in prison may have gotten his life on the right track but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t face challenges daily.
“This is a wretched and miserable place,” he says. “Yet somehow hope survives, seemingly against all odds, and the human spirit remains strong, resilient and unquenched, even in the midst of the most trying and challenging of circumstances. This hope is a gift of God.”