Testimonies

Margarita Abaca; I thank God every day to be alive. I was in a very bad car accident in 2013. I lost two dear friends that night who I miss and love so much. Two others were hurt very badly, including myself. God saved my life that night and although I am in prison for the next 14 years, I give thanks to the Lord because he gave me the strength to be able to forgive myself. There are few alcoholics in my family including myself and I believe God used me so I can tell my story to help others in their addiction and many more ways. I still don’t understand how I am alive today. My car was smashed. I made a mistake getting behind the wheel drunk. I lost two dear friends. I lost a part of me. I prayed and prayed for forgiveness and God gave that to me. Today I am a changed woman. If I could  take it all back, my friends would still be here and I would still be lost. Now I’m safe and now I’m found and I have two beautiful guardian angels watching over me. God is Good! He will never leave you nor forsake you. I am blessed to be here today

 

Thomas Carlton: For more than 2 decades, I’ve lived a life of chaos and lies that helped me create the hell I was living. By being a product of a single mother, a broken home and never having that father figure, I felt left out when it came to love. So I chose a lifestyle of crime, gangs, violence and pain. I killed the pain by putting poison in my veins. I fed the beast inside. In 2007, I chose to stop living for the devil and the world and gave my life to Jesus Christ through Celebrate Recovery. In 2013, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. So once again I chose to live life my way and gave up on my family and life, and ran from God back to the life of violence and crime that took 10 more years of my life. Last year I went running back to God like the prodigal son. Now I know Jesus is an expert at putting broken people back together and taking pain and cancer away. The truth is we’re as close to God as we choose to be. God can use even the smallest experience to help us remember that His presence is like an ocean of grace in the middle of our heavy moments. Everyday I’m getting older and I’m running out of dreams, but God’s love never runs out. From now on this defeated, no good life of mine belongs to God. Maybe this is your story. If it is, know that I wasn’t arrested, I was rescued. Remember, God is one phone call away. God bless.

 

Kimberly Causey: All my life I have had God’s grace upon me. I was protected and lifted up, spared, and loved. He set me apart and sanctified me. I especially know that now that I have a relationship with Our Father. During my trial I was facing 15 years to life but God was with me. Usually I have anxiety being locked up but He interceded and gave me hope, strength and, most importantly, peace. From the moment I was arrested God gave me peace. I’ve only felt that kind of peace one other time; the weekend my little sister passed away. So I knew I would be okay. He gave me Joshua 1:9, then John 14:27, and Rev 3:8. He was sending people my way. I started a Bible study in San Joaquin County Jail twice a day. I learned more of God’s Word and built my relationship with Him. I love to read the Word to others and pray for them. I love to sing to our Father as well. Thank you for your fellowship. God bless you and keep you.

 

Matthew Fowler; All my life I’ve struggled with drugs. In 2015 I finally got into NA and got clean. I attended church on Sundays and all superficial things & life worked for a while. But when life got hard I didn’t know how to cope & I sadly returned to that same old lifestyle. On August 2, 2016 I got busted for carjacking & assault with a vehicle. I am now serving 8 years at 85%. Since redirecting my life to the Lord he has shown me great mercy and unmerited favor in his Son, Jesus Christ. I don’t always know what the Lord has planned.

 

Corrina Garcia: Since I can remember, I’ve felt God’s presence in my life. When I was 4 years old, I said a prayer to invite Jesus into my heart and life. I would go to Easter plays at a friend’s church. When I became a teenager I started to rebel. I was promiscuous and using marijuana and alcohol. This behavior messed up my opportunity to go to a 4-year college. I became bedridden for almost a year and my mental illness took over. God had me in his care because by going to homeschool I graduated high school on time. I began going to church and dedicating my life to God again. However, I backslid and picked up bad behaviors again. I went to prison, got out, and stopped using. I did really well for 3 years. Then I moved back home and started using again. While I’ve been here, I’ve stayed clean. I’ve been going to church faithfully. Also, I’m about to graduate from Office Services. God is a God of many chances. I still have hope!

 

Dylan Gwynne: My testimony of God’s grace is very short and very powerful to me. Though I am in prison (and I never thought I would be) I have continued to see blessings. My most recent blessing was finding out I was accepted into a program I never realized I would qualify for. I applied and got accepted to the Youth Offender Program. Essentially it cuts my time in half. Not to mention when I am feeling the most down, I get called for mail. Though it’s always from my mom and dad, it is a blessing none the less. You have to thank God for all blessings, both big and small. Amen.

 

Bryan Harvell: I came to know the Lord in 1984. I rebelled but slowly figured out my life was a mess. I got caught up in drugs and all kinds of things. I’ve been in and out of jails and prisons all my life. This time I am truly ready to let the Lord change my life and make a commitment to the Lord. I enjoy reading the Bible and learning the Word of God. I am slowly changing my old ways. The Lord is showing me a better way of life. I truly believe I will be going to heaven. Praise the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Kevin Hunt: How little and selfish of a man would I be if I Iived my life afraid of doing the right thing because I was worried about what people thought about me? I spent too many years of my life building an image and reputation that has only comprised what is righteous and fair for agony and lies. I can’t continue to live my life ignoring the injustice of my actions. “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.” I fall no more! I choose to stand in Christ and as a true Christian I will live the rest of my life taking up His cross. I believe in my heart that God has a greater plan for me. That everything I’ve been through in life was God shaping and molding me into the person He wants me to be so I can do His work. I’m not afraid of doing the honorable things in life and like David I will go against Goliath. I know as long as I continue to do what’s right, God will protect and reward me with His blessings. Our God is a God of power and love and He will lead me over my adversities and right into the Kingdom of Heaven.

“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me.”

 

Clyde Kennedy; God has blessed me so tremendously over these 40 years. Even through the hardship that I experienced that put me behind these walls. I can’t help but include all of my family and the victims who, through all of this, have been blessed. A musician growing up in San Diego 12 years to 22 years, I experienced drugs and alcohol. I was the youngest in the first music band that allowed me to make money in a lot of clubs – 15 years – as a drummer and vocalist. At 22 I became distraught and tired of getting high and drinking. God …blessed me with a girlfriend who loved the Lord and at a time of depression and not wanting to leave the house at all, she asked me to come to church with her. Six months later I decided to go. After hearing the Word of God, my life has never been the same. God blessed me with a job, a wife, children and a nice home. Being part of the ministry of music as well as a deacon 30 years later. I lived a life of religion going to church every Sunday but running from a relationship with Christ and the calling that was on my life and to my family. That’s what got me here in prison. But God allowed all this to happen that I may know Him as my resurrected Christ and bring me to true repentance to turn me from a life that was not committed to do His will, to a life of submission in holiness that separates me from the life of sin and shame. This is where I started trusting the Lord and leaning not on my own understanding but in all of my ways, good and bad, acknowledging Him so that He may direct all of my paths and direct my steps. I’m blessed to be the man of God that He intended me to become and praise God! He’s not finished with me yet.

 

Michael Lamb: That I am still alive is my greatest testimony. The Lord my God has saved me so many times I cannot count them all. I have been addicted to alcohol and heroin, shot, jumped off a bridge and on and on. The Lord has seen fit, for reasons I cannot know, to keep me alive and even healthy! I have been relieved of the burdens of my addictions now for almost 14 years, praise God, and I am grateful for what I have left. I lost my wife and my oldest son to suicide in the last 8 years and I am still here. I once thought it was that I was a super strong and lucky person but I now know that no one is that lucky. Now I give the Lord all praise, credit and thanks for saving this undeserving sinner so many times. If I died right now I would be happy and content because I know where I am going. Praise God in all things.

Sergio Lara: I was baptized on July 3, 2016 after attending a Protestant service in prison. I went inside the chapel as a half believer and walked out as a follower of Christ our Lord! I attended service because I had a couple of family issues that weren’t getting mended. So my mother told me to steer myself towards God and pray. Boy, let me tell you, God started answering prayer after prayer and my most stressful situation got taken off my back, as well as my mother’s. My mother got full custody of my 7 1/2 year old daughter. Now, thanks to the “man up above”, my daughter’s in a safe environment, eats better, and is well taken care of and spoiled at home. Amen! I’m a follower of Christ. I still struggle at times with the devil’s temptations, but I overcome those struggles at times. It’s a battle every day, but I know who really is my master. God!! Stay firm brothers and sisters and keep me in prayer. I need spiritual growth.

 

Frank Macedo: God gave me a beautiful wife, 1 son and 4 beautiful girls. My wife is a licensed minister and all my girls were raised in church. I relapsed, went back to drugs and drinking, and got arrested, and God gave me my life back. I relapsed again and the enemy tried to destroy me and my family, but once again God had mercy on me. My wife and I separated once again, and I reverted to drugs and alcohol. This time I was trying to finish myself off, feeling sorry for myself. I was up for three days, tried to cross the street, and found myself in the hospital with stitches on my forehead. Once again, God had grace and mercy on me. Now I find myself in prison. I’ve got to do a couple of years but I know that God has a purpose for me in these places. It is not about me anymore. It is about giving and spreading the good news. Due to God’s grace and mercy, I am still breathing and I still have my wife & family behind me.

 

Victor Martelli: I was leading a life of crime. It’s a nowhere road to hell. Due to finding God in my life it has all changed for the good. Let me tell you children of God who read this, this is a true and reliable account. Please take the high road with God on your side. Please pray with all intent every day. Please don’t let temptation overcome you. Please read your Bible in your leisure. God can change your life just like He has for millions. Please repent. Please stay out of trouble. Prison is the other side of the fence. God bless all the believers of the Word for there is only one true God Almighty.

 

Melecio Nunes: If not for the grace of God through Jesus I would have died or been still lost in my sin. Thank you Lord. I want to say that God has been good to me even in my rebellious ways. Yes, I lost everything out there but I know God is still with me and for me, and that has me filled with hope. I do not like where I am today but I will not murmur/complain because I know I put myself here. I won’t follow Israel’s history in the desert – an 11 day journey turned into 40 years. So I encourage all my brothers to seek/ask/knock and find out just what God wants you and I to learn from this. I believe the sooner the better. So yes, we’re here so let’s make it a blessing. Just as Joseph learned his son Ephram/Manassah meant the Lord has blessed me in the land of suffering and the Lord has called me to forget my father’s house. God will do this for you and me. It’s who He is. God bless you

 

Sharon Rearden: I dedicated my life whole heartedly on the day of my arrest. Prior to being arrested I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to turn around and go back into my house. I’ve been saved since I was a child. I was baptized at 12, then again at 18. I would go to church for some years and fall back off. I got mixed up with drugs during a long period in my life, getting into recovery and relapsing. I never ever really changed my behavior. I was still angry. One morning I went out of my apartment to argue with a neighbor. I was arrested for criminal threat. I totally surrendered while sitting in Lancaster’s Sheriff’s Department. I said, “Lord take me and I mean out of me!!” I meant, “Lord I’ll say whatever you want me to say, go wherever you want me to go and do whatever you want me to do.” I’ve started prayer groups and Bible studies. I’ve always wanted to be a minister and I’ve enrolled in TUMI. I believe with the direction of the Holy Spirit, God is equipping me in here, preparing me to do His ministry both here and when I’m released. I’m truly thankful for this prison experience. It has brought me closer to God.

 

Richard Rocha: I came into this world with a family of the Lord until at age 12 my life started to fall. I carried the cross in the church. My mom left my dad and that’s when my hate for my mom started. I started gang banging in Salinas, been to CYA, done 3 prison terms. It took me looking at life in prison to say to myself “enough is enough”. I’m hurting others for what? I’m the one in here, no one else. I read the Bible every day. I know I’ve changed because of how I live my life now with myself and others. I surround myself with great people and try to help those who fall short because I know help is hard to come by. I ask the Lord to help me because I want His love and am sorry for turning away.

 

Jacob Romiski: I’ve been a Christian my whole life. I’ve had prayers answered and escaped death more than once due to God. Also, I’ve been a criminal/addict since I was a young kid. I’m trying to change and live the life that will make my family proud and make me a positive member of society. I’m only 23 and have served more than enough time locked up to know that this isn’t what I want to do with my life. I know God’s there for me and I want to spread His love and be responsible for other souls going to heaven just as people showed me the way and helped me believe mine will go there.

 

Tony Ruff: I first surrendered to Jesus Christ when I was young. My grandmother introduced me to the awesome and powerful man, forever forgiving, forever understanding. I’ve fallen short of His glory 10 times over, but still I rise through the grace and mercy which was bestowed upon me and everyone from the beginning. Through so many darkened days and empty years, faith has never been far. I feel most protected because I give thanks in everything. Just talking to Him quietly gives my soul peace and assurance. Through family and friends prayers, examples are set on how to walk. Thank you for this brief opportunity to allow me to share a little about me. I pray my light shines on others through this testimony.

 

Norman Stottmeister I have been a Christian for 43 years. I was born a child of a minister, reared in Christianity. My father passed away in 1967 – I was six. My mother and his parents raised in me the scripture, “Train up a child”. When I was 14, a woman at church gave her testimony. She said she was a child of a minister and been “trained up” in Christianity. Everyone assumed she was saved. Each day she had to put on a mask because she knew in her heart that she had never given her life to God. She never accepted Jesus Christ. I thought she was speaking my words from her mouth. “How could I go forward and be saved, if everyone already thought I was?” Hell terrified me and my fear of God was greater than my fear of man’s opinions. So I finally did accept God. I was 18 when I felt God was calling me to preach. I said “NO” and graciously, polite as God is, he said “OK”. He also said, “Here are the keys to your life, you drive for awhile.” And I drove my life onto the ground. When I was 39, I said, “Enough!” and listened to a commentary by Chuck Missler on Revelations. The first time I’d really read the Bible in years. He said, “God can’t learn – He knows everything. So you cannot shock him, He knew all of your sins – past, present and future. 2000 years ago he died for you and me anyway.” I broke and gave me life to God to be my Lord as well as my Savior. I got many things right, but I still ended up here. But God is faithful to complete the good work He began in me.

 

Reginald Suttles: I have been incarcerated for 35 years -lost and was serving myself and the enemy. That was until 3/19/12 when God reached down and touched my heart, leading me to repentance and personal faith in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I serve Him faithfully, not perfectly. But by His grace I push on. He has also allowed me to prepare and give lessons from time to time. All of which I know that I could never do without the Holy Spirit living within me and leading my life. I thank God for awakening me and leading me out of darkness, and gracing me with eternal life in Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Savior. I humbly ask of you your prayers for me and my wife, Velma.

 

Edward Valdivia: I was once lost but now I’m found thanks be to our Savior Redeemer, our anointed high priest, interceding for all believers. I admit that my idea of the way things ought to work is for me to make choices and for God to bless them in everything from the career I wanted to pursue to the spouse I wanted to marry. I have been slow in learning that what and who are less important to God then how and why. God is more interested in how I work than in what I do for a living. His concern is that I become an honest and diligent worker, not that I pick a certain profession and He is more interested in how I treat my spouse than in whom I marry. God’s concern is that I become the right kind of partner, not that I marry the right person. It is not the work I do that will make my life meaningful, it is working in the way He’s says is right. And it is not the person who is with me on life’s journey that will bring me joy, it is treating the person I am with with love and kindness.

Jeremy Willis: I joined a gang when I was 11 and started to use meth at 14, injecting by the time I was 16. Came to prison at 18 and every time I am released I get worse – heroin and crack at the same time. In and out of prison. I’m now 39, a 5th termer and tired of this lifestyle. I want to change my life. I’ve heard a lot over the years that God changes people’s lives and they stay out of prison forever. So, I thought I would give Jesus a chance and here I am. My sponsor talks with me, fellowships with me and prays with me. I feel the power of God’s righteousness and knew God was the way I need to go.

 

Wallace Yoder; Back in the 70’s at youth service an evangelist spoke the following word over me: “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places” (Isaiah 45:3)

At the time, I expected God was going to enable me to understand spiritual mysteries or give me a prophetic ministry like the evangelist. But as time went by without fulfillment of this “word” in my life, I allowed the darkness of hidden sins[ to] openly manifest in crimes over the next 30 years. In 2009, I made a commitment to serve the Lord wholeheartedly and have been actively involved in prison ministry ever since.

Working with younger men I feel compelled to warn them not to waste their opportunities to serve the Lord as I did. When one young believer in the group continued to engage in ungodly behavior despite my repeated counsel to stop, I became extremely frustrated and resorted to ridiculing him.

One morning, reading my spiritual journal, I came across that “word” from Isaiah, now over 40 years old. As I looked around at the men in my dorm, the Holy Spirit showed me that they were my “treasures of darkness.

Just as you would only allow someone who knew how to gently clean your treasured fragile crystal glasses or porcelain vases, I had to trust the Holy Spirit to do His work in cleaning these earthen vessels filled with treasures. (2Corinthians 4:5-7)

I apologized to the brother harshly and now witness the Holy Spirit make changes in him without a need to say a word!

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