My name is Brian, and my story is one of difficult lessons and undeserved redemption. My mom passed away when I was two, and my Dad, who was a very strong Christian, promised her he would take care of us to the best of his ability. He worked incredibly hard running his own lawn care business, and every Sunday, we would get in the car and drive four hours one way to go to church. I used to think my dad was crazy for driving that far just to go to church. I trusted Christ as my Lord and Savior when I was eight or nine years old and was baptized not long after that.
From early childhood on, sports were a huge part of my life. I played a sport every season growing up, and by the time I was in high school, football had become my greatest love. I spent a lot of time with my teammates, going to parties and doing various things with them. However, my father always warned me to be careful about who I spent my time with, and he told me time and time again that a true friend will look out for your best interests and will not put you in harm’s way. Time and time again, I defended my friends, saying that my dad didn’t know them, so he couldn’t judge them. I was convinced that I knew everything and that there was no way I would ever get in trouble. Oh, how I was wrong.
One night, after football practice, one of my friends and I decided that we wanted to go see some other friends, so we called a cab and headed to our destination. Suddenly, my friend pulled a gun on the cab driver. The minute I saw what was happening, I threw open the car door and ran away as fast as I could, sweat dripping down my face. As I ran, disbelief flooded my thoughts: How could my friend have done that? Why did he do it? Then my father’s words came back through the sweat and the terror: “A true friend will look out for your best interests and will not put you in harm’s way.” Both my friend and I ended up getting arrested and put in jail. In court, the cab driver testified that I had run upon seeing the gun and was not involved in the crime, but it did not matter. I was sentenced to nearly five years in prison.
Looking back on that very difficult season in my life, I cannot help but see the incredible redemption that is a part of my story.
After prison, it was nearly impossible for me to find a job, so I turned to selling drugs. I knew it was wrong, but I felt hopeless and was convinced it was the only way I could make enough money to survive. I ended up getting caught and I went back to prison and served another sentence. While in prison, I rededicated my life to the Lord because I knew I needed to get back on track with trusting Him to lead my life. When I got out of prison the second time, my dad helped me get back on my feet. I applied for multiple jobs, and they were all dead ends. Some of the companies even liked me, but they either had policies against hiring a felon or they were afraid to trust me. Again, I began to feel that hopelessness creeping back in. But then I started working with my dad with his landscaping business, and I began with just a few yards. With God’s undeserved blessing, I began to get more and more yards to take care of, and that sense of hopelessness began to fade.
A few years later, I was invited by a friend to a BBQ, and I met a beautiful young woman named Margaret. I was immediately taken by her modesty and the fact that she wore no masks and was unashamed of who she was. We started dating, and I told her all about my past and how God had been working in my life. By His grace, I did not scare her away, and we began looking for a church. It wasn’t long before we found Calvary. The people at Calvary welcomed us instantly and made us feel so loved. We got married not long after that, and the Lord blessed us with our children.
Looking back on that very difficult season in my life, I cannot help but see the incredible redemption that is a part of my story. I have a felony charge that will be on my record for the rest of my life, but the Lord immensely blessed me and led me to a job that I can work and be successful in, and He gave me my precious wife and children. Our God is a great God, no matter what our lives look like, and He desires to redeem and save even the greatest sinner.