Robert Estrada: My life was a path of self-destruction, filled with alcohol, drug abuse, and gang violence. I was living a very selfish life with no concern for anybody, not even my two beautiful kids. But I decided I was tired of hurting other people, my family, and myself, and tired of living a life with no future. I thought I’d lost my family and had nothing left, so I started to pray, asking the Lord for forgiveness and to please let me keep my family. This is the first time I had actually prayed to the Lord with my heart, and He heard me. Slowly everything started falling in place. He put me with other Christian brothers that helped me start my path to my new life. I have surrendered to God. My family reached out to me to let me know they are still there and fully support me through this. He also helped get me a sentence that helps me get back to my kids a lot sooner than expected. No matter who you are, it’s never too late to turn your life around. The Lord is there for you. He’s just waiting for you to make the choice for a better life. God bless you. Praise the Lord.
Joseph Gonzales: I was raised by a wonderful Catholic mother and an abusive alcoholic stepfather. I left every chance I got and ended up selling drugs on the street. I met some older dudes that took me under their wings and I became a well-known mobster. I got busted and became a well-known gangster in prison. In and out since 1981. No opportunity to go home. I became an associate of the Mexican mafia and they asked me to kill someone. I thought, “Why do I want to kill someone who’s done nothing to me”, so I told them no. They put me on their hit list and I got hit, so I disassociated from this type of prison behavior. Then I heard my mom’s voice in my head saying, “This is your chance to come back to me.” So I gave my life and heart to the Lord. I feel good and hopeful that I will be going home to my mom soon. God continues to humble me. I take Bible lessons and have found my way back to my mom through Jesus. He lives in me and I can’t wait for the day when I get to spend eternity with Him. God bless all.
Andrew Larson: God, my Savior, started calling me back to Him in 2009. Little things at first – addresses, literature, cellies who talked to me about Him and one who got me doing Bible studies. In 1972, I blamed God for my troubles and wished I was dead. He became my Lord and Savior on Dec 9, 2012. I was baptized in prison. Since then, my life has been changing from a level IV down to a level II. I knew Tony DiBernardo and went to church with him. He gave me an application to D.O.C. Then Gabriel Cruz gave me another one! So it must be meant for me to join! Thank you God, for leading me through your will. I also wish to thank you, D.O.C for your lovely acknowledgement of our food sale and the letter you sent us. God bless you all. I go to the Board on April 25, 2017. Please pray for me.
Kenneth McGraw: “YES” – Prayers are answered. I was housed at H.D.S.P. for a long period of time. During those 24 years, my family took care of me. For some reason they quit and I never questioned it. 2 years had passed – no support. No toothpaste to brush my teeth or soap to bathe with. I was hard timing it and very tired. My family never wrote, I had 2 brothers 2 sisters and countless nieces and nephews and no mail. I wrote my church and they never replied. My frustrations grew to a point I fell on my knees at the foot of my bed and prayed with all my heart. The very next day, I got a letter from a lady in Alabama. She said, “Hello I’m your aunt, you never met me. Me and your uncle wanted to help you a long time ago, but your dad wouldn’t let us. My husband is your dad’s brother and would you like to correspond?” I immediately started writing. …I couldn’t help saying over and over, there is a God! 3 ½ weeks later I had $750.00 on my books. My dedication to the Lord and love for the Father is now infinite. I still write my aunt. I get tears just thinking about it. I fellowship with some of the greatest group of Christians. God will never forget a man’s heart, but use His children as a vessel to prove a point or get back on course.
John Sanchez: God’s grace is all around me even when I’m too blinded by what is wrong with my life to give it much attention. It is still there. He is in the smile of a stranger; the laugh of a child; the voice of my mother; the concern of a friend. The darkness weighs more and anger is heavy. God’s grace is light, but just because something is light doesn’t mean it is any less real. On the contrary. The quieter you have to be to feel it, all the more important it is. For some reason I’m still here and it is only by God’s grace. Now I can right my wrongs and build on the hope of others. It’s not about filling in the holes I’ve burned into my path as much as it is building those scars into mountains. I am fortunate to have that opportunity.
Robert Southerland: At 11 I believed the only way to not hurt was drugs, booze, and sin. In ’92 I went to my first prison on a 2 ½ to 5 and paroled after completing CAPP program, but it was a 4-year waiting list. Within 9 months I had my turn come up. So I put in my wet work and was left standing alone in the middle of the prison yard. I got 3 more years, did 6 on a 5 and got out with 2 years parole. Yeah, I got respect, or so I thought. The Chaplain felt sorry for me and I was the drug program clerk for the rest of my time. I used it to run drugs around the prison at will. I was in and out for the next 11 years, left the east coast to get away from selling drugs. I was homeless in Redding, stopped talking to my family, did all my” nevers” – homeless without a job or friends, shoplifted, stole, and all the ungodly stuff and was helped off the streets by some bikers who put me back on my feet and helped me get a bike. God teaches us in strange ways. Still missing something, so I got in touch with my mom and a sister. Within a year I was back in prison. My family is in God and as long as I stay in His family, He will not need a prison to get me to rely on Him again or get my attention and focus on Him.
Christopher Turk:, I was a young, wild teenager but never thought about turning my life over to the Lord. I was shot multiple times in 2010 and after. That started me looking at life a whole different way. While I was lying in that hospital bed, I wanted to turn my life over to the Lord, but for some reason, I went back to doing what I used to do – hanging on the corner doing the Devil’s work. It took coming to prison to open my eyes and make me realize that the Lord had been on my side all along. (Deut 31:6)