I just got threw my morning devotions and I'm hoping the testimony of what God did for me will bring glory to Him, encourage fellow believers, and maybe bring hope to believers who are praying for someone's salvation.
I was raised by the state, foster homes(many of them), trips to juvenile phyc wards(doctors orders). Spent a total of 4 years in juvenile jail(2 of which was consecutive). Diagnosed with all kind of mental stuff. Placed on all kinds of anti-phycotics(which a lot of times made me act out of control, which I'm no longer on). I was told by everyone, "oh, you had a rough childhood your behavior is normal". And I played that card. Had finished my 2 yr sentence on my 18 Birthday, no longer a kid, the state coudnt keep me. My parents were homeless( hadn't seen or heard from them in years, or my siblings. So where did they bring me? A homeless shelter, where my father lived. It took a year for me to catch another case, i spent another 54 months in prison. I'm out now.
I said all that because in all the places I went people tried to pitch all kinds of beliefs to me. Because of my lifestyle it takes proof for me to trust, "don't talk about, it be about it" is what I would say. The people who annoyed me the most were Christians. They would do their weekly good work by visiting kids who were locked up. They'd come in with a smile and, "God bless this" and "God bless that". Life was good for them, they could go home. They would talk about all kinds of stuff that didn't make sense or didn't apply. It looked fake, and to me it was.
Then there was this old lady I met. You could tell she was strict, she didn't like no talking or playing around. She straight out said she wasn't concerned about my past or what I was gonna do after I left that room. She said she had one job to do and she takes it serious. Imagine this old lady telling juvenile criminals, who've raped, stabbed, shot, and robbed people, that we better keep our mouths shut or she'd kick us out.
To me this lady(Ruth, is her name) wasn't like all the other Christians who came in here, she was strictly business. There was no buttering up, she didnt talk bout God wanting to deliver me, or setting captives free, and all that stuff. She had my attention, cause she spoke straight, and to the point. She told this room full of kids, that we were gonna die, and after we die we're gonna have to be judged by God. She said there was a list of charges that were against us and it was God's law. She said we weren't gonna beat the charges and God was gonna send us to hell. I was like, what? What's this lady talking bout God don't send people to hell?(I didn't say it out loud, she had me straight trppin'!) she said the only thing she thought was worth believing
is the Bible, cause its the only book written by God and every word is true. I'll tell you I was one month from being 18 at this point and that was the first time I heard that. She asked if it would be fair(not how we felt about it) if God sent us to hell for what we had done. Let me tell you, I was a criminal, I knew what it takes to beat a case, and if I thought I couldn't win at trial, I would cop out(take a plea bargain). And if God was gonna judge for stuff cops didn't catch me for I was screwed. I sat there and thought for a minute, and based on the evidence against me, God would have to send me to hell. I didn't like how i felt about it, but the facts were there. I knew what kind of person i was, placed in many situations i was tested and approved. Ruth left it at that, and she said she was gonna come back tomorrow and give us the rest of the news(that's how she put it). On the block there was a lot of talk about Ruth later that day. Some said they heard this before, it's a tactic used by the leaders throughout history to use religion to control society. There were Muslims talking bout Mohammad, and all other kinds of stuff. There were dudes saying she's lying, but when they were told they were full of it, hands were being thrown. This lady almost caused a riot! I remember thinking why such a response from this, nobody cared(myself included) before when we had Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Muslims, Buddhist, and other Christians come in pushing there stuff?(I have found the answer to that one, it took some time)
So, I'm laying in my bunk and thinking, "no way it can't be like this. That means a lot of people are going to hell. God is nuts! But, what if it is true? Man, I can't imagine spending forever in hell. I've been burnt before, only for a few seconds, and on my hand, but hell is forever and my whole body will be consumed!" I wouldnt say it to my cellmate but I was afraid what was gonna happen to me.
Next day they call church, we line up to leave the block and I noticed a lot who were there yesterday didn't go. Ruth started by saying class rules didn't change and she ain't gonna repeat herself. She said yesterday was the bad news, but today she was gonna give the good news. That night I was so grateful to God for what He did, and I had an exstensive chat with God about a lot of things. I wanted to do right by Him for what He did for me. It was a good night.
I didn't take Ruth's advice about reading the Bible and praying. My attitude and behavior that I had displayed didn't change much, but there was always this belief, conviction, or feeling, that stuck with me. It wasn't until I started my 54 month bid that things started to change. It has been the Bible that has been my line of reasoning, formed what I believe, and my encouragement.
I don't know about "hearing" the voice of God, but He does speak to my heart, I can't explain it beyond that.
I am forever grateful to God for changing me, because left to myself I'll be spending my life in prison. I didn't believe it when those people would talk about setting the captive free, I do now. If God has the love and power to grab me out my lifestyle of crime, I'm telling you He can do it for anyone. I love you Lord.