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Easter Chapel Sets Prisoner Free

“My dad, he would always say ‘You're worthless,’ you know, ‘You're not going to amount to anything. You're going to end up in the penitentiary. I don't think it was his wish, but it came true,” Larry Clements says. 

Larry’s dad was a touch military man who raised five kids.  "I wanted to join the Boy Scouts, you know, but because of him being military and we had four other siblings besides myself,” Larry says. “He didn't want to spend money on a uniform. So I started looking for other friends. We started smoking weed, started drinking, started eating pills.

The sense of rejection said with Larry for years. "I didn't feel loved,” he says. "I know my mother loved me. I mean, my mom was always there for me, but my dad, I never heard ‘I love you’ out of his mouth. There was no, you know, come alongside me and encourage me.” 

Larry committed his first armed robbery as a teen and was sent to juvenile detention center, where he heard about Jesus for the first time. "We were at Joplin Boys' Ranch, and we used to go to church on Sunday because the director of the camp was the pastor of the church. He's' the one that determined when you went home. So you wanted to look good.  But I heard about Jesus there, that was the first time. So I always like – I believe in Jesus, you know, but I lived like the devil. I didn't have an understanding of what it was to be a Christian.”

As Larry grew, so did his drug use. “I don’t know how I got caught up in heroine, but when I did, I fell in love. And then once you’re hooked, its like there's no return.”  

He also began selling drugs and had other arrests, including one for attempting to firebomb a police station after an officer gave him a ticket.  “Being on drugs. you think you're King Kong and you can do anything.  So I park my car across the street, I walk over to the gate. So I lit it and I threw it and I turn around and I start running, well, I turned around to look to watch it blow up and the rag is sitting there burning from where I threw it at.” 

The next arrest occurred when a state trooper ran his license after a routine traffic stop.  "He's on the hood of the car writing the ticket and his gun's right there and so I knew I warrants out of Kern County and Orange County and I heard it come back over the radio,” Larry says. "So when that happened the gun came out of the holster. He had it, I had it, we were wrestling for it and one shot was fired, and thank God it just grazed his knee. When they booked me into the county jail it was attempted murder. I went to trial and they found me guilty of removing a firearm from a police officer and brandishing a weapon.”

Incredibly, Larry only received a four-year sentence this time. "I was looking at 80 years to life, cause California has a California three strike law,” he says. "So I’m like, ‘I can’t do 80 to life. I don't want to die in prison.’ So I just kept on fighting it until I finally finally got it down to, you know, the judge dismissed it dismissed a strike and he gave me 13 years.”

One year, Larry was invited to a free meal at the prison chapel, and an Easter service following.. “The guy doing the service was a lifer and he held his Bible up and he goes, "I don't think this is the Word of God." And he paused and I'm like "What do you mean you don't think that's the Word of God? I even believe that’s the Word of God,’” Larry recalls. But then he goes, "I KNOW it's the Word of God. Just cause my finite brain can't figure out an infinite God; doesn't mean this isn't the Word of God." And from that moment… I asked God to forgive me and  – and He did… I started reading my Bible, I mean, studying. I mean, getting studies and studying them and I mean just like all – like hours on end, you know? I didn't know what was happening.”

Larry ays his heart and mind began being transformed. "I said, 'Lord, forgive me for doubting your word because I can't figure it all out doesn't mean it's not your Word. Forgive me for that. 10:31:00 After that I was like "Teach me your word. Give – reveal to me your truth, God." And I'd started reading scriptures and they made sense. And that was the moment, you know, that I repented, you know? Repented is to change a mind, you know, to turn.” 

Larry was granted an early release in 2008. "Before coming to Christ I was, used to be prejudiced,” he says. "And that's the thing about the Word of God, you know, it convicts you, it corrects you. and when I hugged a black brother and I said, ‘I love you’ and I meant it, I knew I was saved then and in 1st John 3:14 it says ‘we know we have passed from death to life when we love the brethren.”

Larry was also able to forgive his father and share the goose with him before he died. He now has a ministry to prisoners in California, and has written the account of his life in The Good, the Bad, and The Saved. "Had I felt God's love or knew more about God when I was younger, I wouldn’t have had to go through everything that I went through,” :Larry says. "He loved us just because that’s who He is. God is love. It’s unmerited, you know. We don’t earn or deserve His favor. He loved you so much that he sent his only son to die on the cross for your sins. He took your sins upon Himself. That’s how much He loves us. The grace of God is amazing. It’s just amazing.” 

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