By Amy Cain
To some, high school is a place to learn new things and explore new hobbies. To others, it is a place to make friends and socialize.
To Jason, it was a place to sell drugs.
"By sixteen, I was an accomplished drug dealer, using school for my client base," he says. "I did this to be able to keep a supply of drugs for myself."
Jason had become addicted to painkillers as a child. His uncle's boyfriend routinely abused him and then gave him pills to make him feel better and keep him quiet.
"I was also smoking marijuana and drinking and doing meth," he remembers. "Anything to dampen the pain, both physical and mental."
His substance abuse only intensified as he grew older. He did whatever it took to get his hands on the drugs that helped him escape reality, including robbery.
"My addiction took me to a place I never thought I would go—jail," Jason says. "But I didn't care anymore. I felt like I was worthless, damaged goods."
Jason had gone to church for a while before his time in prison, but he'd never made a true commitment to Christ. When he learned that his father had passed away, his heart completely hardened.
"I got mad and held a grudge toward God," he says. "How could He take my hero from me when I needed him most?"
In response, Jason immersed himself in the gang culture at his facility.
One day, he ran into a group of guys he used to know from his drug dealing days.
"I noticed that they were living in a different way," Jason says. "They were reading their Bibles and doing Bible study, and they seemed truly happy."
Jason knew it was time for a change. He poured out his heart to God and asked for forgiveness. He joined a Bible study group. One of his friends gave him a Bible.
"The coolest thing happened," Jason says. "This hunger for understanding of God's Word kept building and building."
But Jason felt lost in conversations about the Bible. He struggled to understand the meaning of Scripture passages and to answer questions that were asked in the study group.
Then one of the group members gave him an enrollment form for Crossroads Prison Ministries, and he signed up.
"When my course came, I started working on it daily," Jason recalls. "The subject matter was put forth in such a way that a new Christian like me could follow and understand it. Before I knew it, when discussions came up about things spoken in the Word of God, I actually knew the answers.
"It is such an uplifting feeling to know that I'm growing in the Lord," he says. "The studies mean so much to me because they are the biggest source of constant confirmation of my process of sanctification."
As he continues to grow in relationship with his loving Savior, the deep-rooted pain in his heart is finally beginning to heal.
"I have a peace I've never experienced," says Jason. "And that could only come from one place: God!"•
Used with kind permission of Crossroad Prison Ministries (CPM).
CPM instructors from churches across the world guide students in their walks with Christ through *correspondence Bible studies and letters of encouragement. For more information, visit cpministries.org