by Jack Wellman

How I was set free in prison

Jack Wellman

I never knew my real father. My mother had many husbands and I was dumped at my aunt and uncle's when I was very young. They had seven children of their own so when my brother and I moved in there were 11 people in one house. I ended up claiming the closet as my bedroom. When my mother finally did come for my brother and me, we had a new step-father. In all those years and in all my mother's different marriages, I never heard the phrase "I love you." I never heard any praise or encouragement but I remember being screamed at, spit on and cussed out regularly. I was beaten, slammed to the floor and one time I was "spanked" with a log from a stack of firewood. My skull was fractured when I was 10. I became so hardened I never gave my mom the satisfaction of crying when I was beaten.

I was an arrogant young boy when I left home at 16. I had such hostility I often got into fights with men much older than me. I couldn't stand even the slightest insult. I flew off the handle at just about anything. I was a cocked gun with a trigger finger. I stole, drank and used any drug that I could find. It was amazing that I didn't kill myself.

I lived with a guy who sold drugs and stole anything that was not tied down to support his drug habit. One day a police officer arrived at the house I was living in and said he had a warrant for my friend. Then he asked for my name. When I told him, he said he had a warrant for me as well. So off to jail I went, my first of many, many trips to lockup.

Finally, after several appearances in court, I was sent to State Prison where I stayed for two years. The only person who ever visited me was my father-in-law. None of my relatives wanted anything to do with me. As the date of my release drew closer, the realization that I had no home, car, job and apparently no family hit me hard. I was so down the only way I could look was up. I attempted a feeble prayer but thought, who was I? Then one day I saw a Bible at the bottom of a stack of books available to prisoners to borrow. I borrowed it.

I opened the Bible to Psalm 22. What I read floored me, including the following verses:

1 God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?

2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.

6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.

11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.

19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.

Of all the places in the Bible that I could have turned to, I turned to this chapter. Imagine how I felt when I read those verses. I thought that they were written for me! I felt as if God was speaking to me. I cried and poured out my heart and asked Him to provide a way for me when I got out of prison.

There is a miracle greater than the parting the Red Sea, greater than God making the sun stand still, more earth-shattering than the Walls of Jericho falling. It is the miracle of human conversion and I experienced it the day I read Psalm 22. This miracle happens when people come to the end of themselves and there is no one else to turn to but an unseen God. I was that person. I had come to the end of myself. And there was God. He had been waiting.

When I look back at my life – the fact that a former criminal and sinner like me could be forgiven and given the righteousness of Jesus amazes me.

What a powerful testimony to the power of God that He could lift up someone so far down in the depths of a living hell. He did. He lifted me up and He turned my heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

I went on to complete two college degrees and today I am working towards my Masters degree in a seminary. I am also a father and grandfather.

I went from being a disaster to a pastor, but it was not by my own hand.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." Now if that's not a miracle I don't know what is.

From Used with kind permission.

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