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Freed From Life in Prison

“All my chances is up,” says Roy. “This time I’m going to spend the rest of my life in prison. I was going through a lot of depression. I was thinking of any way that I could take my life in prison because I didn’t want to live in this cell for the rest of my life.”

Roy was facing eighty years in prison without the possibility of parole, for a series of drug related crimes. “Drugs really controlled my whole life. That I became a person that, you know, I became a monster. And I didn’t care about anybody or even myself.”

His drug problems started when he was a boy living in Hawaii, covering the shame he felt from not being able to read. “I didn’t have the ability to do my schoolwork. I was put in Special Ed and I was so ashamed about that. I was ashamed that I couldn’t keep up with the rest of the students and I hanged around with the wrong crowd. I started to drink and smoke weed.”

He managed to graduate high school and played a year of college football in California where he was introduced to cocaine. “It took over my life. The addiction was so strong, when I got back, instead of working out and training for the next season, I started to hang around with the partying friends again. And we did the cocaine and the drugs. And what happened was, when it was my time to go back and play football, all of a sudden this career in drugs was more important.”

Roy stayed in Hawaii, got a job and started a family. But his drug use escalated after a co-worker introduced him to crystal meth. “And this guy passed me a pipe. And I took that pipe and I took my first hit. And I got so addicted, I started to do it every single day after that.”

His constant drug use drove his wife to leave with his young daughter. “I did more and more drugs just to cover up the hurt that I was going through. And eventually my habit became almost $1,000 a day some days.”

To pay for his habit, Roy became a strong arm collector for the drug syndicate. He was arrested in Ohio for extortion, kidnapping and robbery and sent to back to Hawaii where he eventually faced more drug related charges. “The lawyer came and spoke to me and said that Roy, the state is putting you away as a career criminal. They’re giving you 40 years, but they’re going to stack another 40 on top there because of your record. I got back to the cell and I was in these four inner walls and I was thinking to myself man, I’m going to spend the rest of my life in here, and I remember going to my cell and I said, you know, I don’t know God, but I cannot live in here for the rest of my life. ‘I need Your help.’”

While in prison awaiting trial, Roy’s cell mate gave him a Bible and invited him to a bible study. “And I remember walking to that Bible study and I was carrying this big Bible and all my friends that ran around on the streets with me, they were looking at me and laughing. ‘Roy, where are you going with that Bible?’ I said, ‘You know what, I don't know. You guys cannot help me out of this or my family, my lawyer, my friends. Nobody can help me out of this one. So I’m going to just see what God can do for me.’”

At the end of the bible study Roy prayed and asked God to forgive his sins. “And I prayed the sinner’s prayer and when I said ‘Amen’, there were these uncontrollable tears coming down my eyes at that point. And it wasn’t tears of shame anymore; it was tears of joy. When I said amen to the Lord, God made me to be a new person and He shared with me that my life didn’t end; it just started.”

He wanted to understand the Bible and grow in his new faith, but Roy had never learned to read.  “And the leader said, ‘You know, you go and pray. Nothing is impossible with God.’  And I went back to my cell that day and I placed my hands on a Bible and I said, ‘Lord, please, My prayer is that You teach me to read so I can learn about You now that I accept You into my life.’ And literally in no time God did this first miracle that I know was from God. He taught me –He taught me to read and it was through reading the Word of God.”

He says God also freed him from his drug addiction. “God brought so much joy. He changed my whole, my whole thinking and my whole life, and He took away this addiction. And I could never do it. It was only because Jesus in my life. So instead of a 12-step program, it took a 1-step to Jesus, taking His hand.”

As his trial date grew closer, Roy began to pray for a miracle - another chance at freedom. “I prayed, ‘God, please; You gave me a million chances. I don’t deserve it anymore. But give me one more chance to go out and share how You changed my life and to share the Lord with my family so we can be family for all eternity. Just—not just here on earth. Your Word says that nothing is impossible with you in Ephesians. And if that’s so, that You’d do this miracle for me.’”

At his trial the witness for the prosecution didn’t show up, and Roy was eventually set free. He found a church and began serving right away. But after two years his case was brought to trial again. Back in court, his church overwhelmed the new judge with stories of Roy’s changed life. The judge was moved. “And he said, ‘I just sentenced your co-defendant to 20 years in prison, 10 years mandatory, the same place where you’re standing today.’ But he looked up to me and said, ‘You know what, I know that God changed your life. So instead of sentencing you today, I’m going to cut you free and give you back your freedom.’”

Roy has used his freedom help others start a new life with Christ. He leads several ministries and camps reaching out to inmates and their families with the love of God. “Being a pastor over a church today and being able to give back and run our Camp Agape for the children of incarcerated and it’s like the biggest blessing in my whole life. The two judges who cut me free from doing the life actually helped us with the camp, Camp Agape, and we’ve been doing it like for 12 years now."

The message of hope that set him free from guilt and shame is the same message Roy shares with inmates and their families today. “I’m grateful to the Lord, even for the things I went through. I want everybody to know that no matter what we went through, when you receive Jesus into your life, He’ll come into your life and He’ll forgive you for everything in the past. And He’ll make you to a new person and make you not have shame, but have joy.”

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