Prison Alpha Changed Two lives
Bill - Coming to Christ through Prison Alpha
My life before I came to Christ was exactly that – My Life!!
I was the epitome of self-centeredness. I was a bad father, a bad son, and a friend only to myself. I was a drug addict, an alcoholic, and a criminal. Instant gratification was my middle name. The only thing that mattered in my life was ME! Without actually being in Hell, I couldn’t have gotten any further from God. I wouldn’t even say that I was living. I was just existing.
My parents were dumb-founded. I grew up in the church. I was baptized and I was confirmed. My mom taught Sunday school. My dad was an Elder. What happened? I’ll tell ya. Knowing about Jesus Christ and having a relationship with Jesus Christ is two totally different things. One involves your brain while the other involves your heart.
On June 22, 2007 I asked Jesus to come into my life. Three days earlier, strung out on drugs and in a blackout, I committed an armed robbery. When I woke up, of course, I was in jail. My parents disowned me, my girlfriend was testifying against me, my kids weren’t talking to me, and my friends wanted nothing to do with me. I had always been a functioning addict, but for the first time in my life I had lost everyone and everything. I turned to the only person I could -GOD!!
I remember lying on my bunk in my cell saying, “God, I can’t do this anymore; God, I don’t want to do this anymore; God, please, please, please help me!!” God didn’t speak to me, I didn’t see a burning bush, and there wasn’t any thunder or lighting, but there was a feeling of peace that flooded over me like I had never known. Right then I knew, I mean I really knew, that things were going to be alright.
My first couple of months in jail, God did some pretty amazing things in my life. Instead of being sent to prison, I was sentenced to a year and a half in the county jail. One night during mail call, they called my name. I received a Bible from a pastor that I had never spoken to or met. And last, but certainly not least, I was put into a program where I could attend Alpha, or as I like to call it, Christianity 101. Through Alpha I learned I needed a personal relationship with Jesus, I was baptized by my own choice, I became a member of Roxbury Church, and the three leaders of Alpha became some of the best friends and mentors I’ve ever had.
This coming June will be three years since I made that life changing decision. Actually, it didn’t change my life – IT GAVE ME LIFE!! This has by far been the best three years of my life. Have all my problems went away? Absolutely not!! But I am able to deal with them. All things are possible with Christ!
Today, I have joy in my life. I have contentment in my life. I have a genuine love for people. Fruit of the Spirit!! I love to do service work. I love to help people. As I stated earlier, that was not me. These are all gifts from God. I don’t do service work to become a Christian, I do service work because I am a Christian.
I have true friends today. I don’t have friends that steer me the wrong way or hang out with me because of ulterior motives. My friends pray for me, encourage me, and most importantly hold me accountable. I have a sacred delight in my heart today. It’s sacred because it comes from God. And although my heart isn’t 100% pure today, it isn’t rotten either. And although I’m not perfect, I am plugged in. For the first time in my life I have found a permanent joy. It’s a joy that’s not dependent on my whims or actions. It’s a joy from God!! A joy that no one, but no one can take away from me.
In Christ, Bill Buchko
Jason - Prison Alpha and Church Changed My Life
Two years ago I was not the man you see before you. I was in a hole in jail with nothing ahead of me but time. I lost everything, my family, job, friends and was slowly loosing my mind. It was this that led me to were I am today. I had given up on myself. Thought there was nothing in the future. It was then that I decided to admit that what I was doing was all wrong. It never got me anywhere but in trouble. I volunteered for a program in jail that allowed me to work on myself. My drinking problem, my ability to take care of my children, my relationship with my fiancé, I could go on and on. This is where my life took the turn I needed. I was introduced to a church program called Alpha. I decided to give it a try. What did I have to lose right? Well I turned out that what I did lose was my fear of church. I decided that day that I was going to give my life up to God. I had fought him for so long that I knew no other way. Thru the help of my good friends Doug and Lori I began to learn. It wasn’t easy at first I wont lie but the more I tried the easier it got. For the first time in what seemed like an eternity I felt like I belonged. I felt what the hand of God was. A truly great great feeling.
I began to notice things happen. When it did it was quick. One thing after another. It was awesome. Things that I would pray for would happen sometimes instantly. I was given time out of the jail to help my fiancé after her surgery. I would pray for visits from family and they would end up there the next day. I decided to get baptized at Alpha Sunday at our church. When I got there I felt so welcomed by everybody. Coming out of the water after being baptized was a feeling that you almost cant describe. A rejuvenation of sorts. I spoke to my fiancé who was there every step of the way with me. She also made the choice I had as well as our youngest son. After that I was even blessed enough to perform the baptism of our oldest daughter and her boyfriend.
The blessings I received are continuing every day. I was granted a chance for the electronic monitoring system, when I was told that I didn’t qualify three days earlier. While out on the system I noticed that my release date was wrong. I made several calls to try to figure out what was wrong but got no response. I woke up one day and prayed, Lord, if you could please help me with this problem I would be really grateful. I made the call at work a few hours later and received a call back a short time later I was told that there had been a mistake made and that I was being released immediately! One hour later I was a free man. As incredible as it sounds I could go on and on with these accounts. I found a great job when I learned that my job was making me sick. Financial problems were helped, and my relationship with my family is better than it has ever been. My kids are no longer embarrassed because dad is in jail again. I realized that all the hurt I caused can be resolved. It took me loosing everything to find God but it is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.
My walk with God has not always been easy. We are all only human and make mistakes. His guidance is what keeps me on track. Do I always make it to church? No. do I have thoughts of the old ways? Sure. But I have the security in knowing that I have forgiveness and consistency in my new family. Roxbury church of Christ. I know that whenever I do feel those things all I have to do is make a call or stop in and someone is always there. That my friends is an awesome feeling for anybody.
With the things I have learned I have managed to stay out of trouble completely. I know that I never have to worry about going back to that horrible place or lose the things I love the most again. That is all in the past now but is still a memory. One that makes me want to be the way I am now. The old Jason was washed away the day I was blessed in the holy water of baptism and I don’t plan on ever looking back. If I can change the life I was leading there is no way that any of you cant do the same thing. Trust me, the power of God is strong so don’t fight it. I would much rather have that power on my side. So in closing I want to tell you that no matter where you are in life, good times or bad, God is always there with you. Let him lead you and you will never be disappointed.