Brent Bishop's life "started pretty rough." Aside from having a mentally ill mother and an alcoholic father, he was "in a very dark place." He started stealing, lying and running wild. By the time he was 12 years old, he was doing a two year sentence in a boy's prison where he was sexually, physically and mentally abused.
"I was a lost little boy full of hurt and hate with no one to explain what was happening," Brent says. "No one cared about me so why should I care about anyone else?"
Brent remembers, when he was young, his mom taking him to church and teaching him how to pray.
Once, when both his parents were sick, Brent prayed to God and asked Him to make them better. "When this did not happen, I thought no one cared about me, not even God," he admits. "I could not understand why Mom did not love me anymore and why Dad would sooner get drunk than spend time with me. Even this wonderful God that Mom talked about had turned His back on me."
At the age of 14, when Brent was released from prison. He went to live with his grandparents but "even with all the love [they] gave me, I still had a problem that I did not know was a problem. I was angry and was in pain."
Brent started drinking shortly after he was released and just about everywhere he went he would get into fist fights. "I had such a reputation of being tough and mean that other boys would cross the street just so they would not have to come into contact with me."
When he was 16, Brent fell in love with a girl and they married at the age of 18. They had "dreams of a nice house with a white picket fence, some children, a good job, a car, a new life, a way to start over."
However, "the problem was that I had a damaged soul that had never been healed. All the abuse was still inside of me waiting to get out. The perverted sex that happened in the institution corrupted my soul and I became a runner, addicted without knowing it."
In the year 1980, Brent and his wife walked down to the front of a church and accepted Jesus as their Saviour. "It's too bad I never made Him my Lord at the same time," Brent admits ruefully, acknowledging a mistake that many people make – wanting good things from God without turning their lives over to Him.
For the next three years, things were good, "but then I drifted back to my old ways and things got a lot worse. Needless to say our marriage did not last. I was back drinking, doping and chasing women, money, and fame worse than I ever did before; hurting a lot of people who did not deserve it, including my children. I was on the road to nowhere and getting there fast."
After Brent and his wife divorced, he met "a lady who I did not want to lose. She made me want to be a better man. I knew I had to change if I wanted to keep her so we started going to church. We met a pastor who had served 15 years in prison and was the founder of a prison ministry called Cons for Christ. He started working with us. After 25 years, I am still happily married to the same woman."
One morning, while Brent was taking a shower, he longed for a deep connection with God and prayed to Him. "As I was getting out of the shower, naked and dripping water, it felt like this wonderful warm oil came down over me and pushed me to the floor.
"As I lay there I felt a love that I had never experienced before that filled my entire being and started purging all the pain, shame, unforgiveness, anger, restlessness, and feelings of failure out of me. I began to weep for what seemed like an hour, even though it was only a few minutes. I stood up feeling like a 1,000 pound weight had been lifted off my shoulders."
Brent proclaims that "a feeling of boldness came over me. My relationship with Jesus became real and alive. I was truly free and was so thankful [for it]. So, I asked God what He wanted me to do."
Brent wrote a book called All Fired Up which tells his inspiring story. He took it into the prisons and shared the Gospel [the good news of Jesus saving us from our sins] with the inmates. He has done prison ministry all across Canada, Jamaica and several US states, as well as Kenya.
"I asked God to allow me to witness just one salvation," he smiles. "But He allowed me to witness thousands ... I have been to Africa four times. I have witnessed the power of Jesus Christ set thousands free and restore hope where there was none."
Aside from ministering to the inmates, Brent and his wife have also met the needs of the prisoners' children.
"When a woman goes to prison in Africa, their children go with them. Also when a lady goes to prison she is issued nothing but a sack dress, and maybe a blanket, no soap, no tooth bush, no toilet paper, and nothing for her children.
"God put it on our hearts to help these children, so we started a milk program where folks could sponsor a prison baby for $20 per month. This would supply a prison baby with milk for a month and feed a street child four times in a month. We are now supplying milk to six prisons - 212 babies - and feeding 100 children.
"We also visited 40 widows, ex-offenders who are living with 60 children, sleeping on mud floors. We have raised enough support to build them a building large enough that is now under construction. Praise God, where there is no way He will find a way.
"My life is awesome! I never would have believed this possible 10 years ago," he smiles, "But look at what God can do with anyone who will step out of their comfort zone."
If you would like to help support these prison babies and street children, visit www.prisonchristianministries.com.•