For the first time, my parents have finally gotten a glimpse of the man I am through the eyes of you guys and that means so much to me. You have no idea- oh they know that I changed, that I talk different, act different. But somewhere in there was a seed of doubt, but i believe GOD has erased all doubts yesterday.
I received this email from my good friend Brother Abe from the Hutchinson Correction Facility. Over the last two years, Abe and I have developed a friendship and recently I was able to meet his family and hear more of his story. We are the same age and would have graduated high school in the same year. He has been taking TUMI the past 3 years and the Lord is using him in a powerful way.
In December we hosted an event called Christmas connections at Morning Star Ranch. Our desire was to connect with the families of the TUMI students from Hutchinson Correction Facility. Abe’s family was one of the families that came, and throughout the weekend I was able to hear from his parents their side of Abe’s story.
Abe’s father shared with me how in 1993, his other son, Abe’s brother, was shot and killed. This devastated the family and left Abe angry and bitter. A couple of weeks after his brother’s death, Abe was involved with the crime that imprisoned him. There were two others involved who were tried as juveniles and released by age 21; however, Abe, only age 17 at the time, was charged as an adult and given a longer sentence. I will never forget Abe’s dad expressing with a heavy heart how he lacked the money for a good lawyer, and how in that one month, he lost two sons.
For the first years in prison, Abe was angry and bitter and rejected anything to do with God. However, God pursued him and Abe finally reached his breaking point and surrendered his life to Jesus. By God’s grace, Abe was able to receive complete forgiveness and also forgive those who had hurt him throughout his life. He has continued in discipleship for many years throughout his prison sentence, and now after taking TUMI classes and being trained as a pastor he has as clear call to pastor and minister.
That night after listening to Abe’s dad share his story, I was able to tell his parents about the potential we see in Abe. I shared how we see him growing to be an amazing man of God who will be a part of His Kingdom growing in the city. We also shared more vision about World Impact, and TUMI and how Abe is a part of what God is doing all over our country. He is just 1 of 1400 inmates taking TUMI classes and studying to be a leader.
The following morning I received the e-mail from Abe and just wept as I read it. The healing that is happening is wonderful!
Bro, they had a marvelous time. Normally when I call home. I talk maybe about 15-20 minutes. You know the phones are expensive. This time however my mom had a lot to talk about, how comfortable she felt. How lovely it was and she was so glad that they went. Man it is truly awesome for real. That is the best visit I had since I have been down and no one came to see me. I told my mother don't worry about coming to see me I rather for them to go there.
My dad for the first time that I can ever remember told me that he was proud of me. I never heard those words cross his lips. Not that I can remember. Heck we talked for about 20-30 mins alone on the phone which hardly ever happens. Our communication is through my mother. We have always had the relationship that if we don't talk in person we don't really talk only send messages through my mother. He comes to see me, so we talk a lot then. But for the first time, they have finally gotten a glimpse of the man I am through the eyes of you guys and that means so much to me. You have no idea, oh they know that I changed, that I talk different, act different. But in somewhere there was a seed of doubt but i believe GOD has erased all doubts yesterday. Thank you Jesus. They already know I am going to Wichita once released; God through you made it an easier transition for them. I am so elated for real, you have no idea brother. My dad kept saying, they have a lot of love for you. They think extremely highly of you, he was like I was really taking in and what they were saying. For the first time I was listening. To hear and see your belief in me sparked something in him. He was talking about going to the man's retreat. My mom mentioned about going to the women's one but she go to the one next week. She is coming though. I've said a great deal; send my love to all the family, thank you all.
Abe’s story is one of many across our country where God is bringing reconciliation among inmates and their families. Continue to pray for our inmates and their families, that as these men grow in their walks with Jesus the gospel would reach their families and bring deep healing in their relationships. Tomorrow, I will share with you more on how God used Abe recently as he prayed for healing for a fellow inmate.