Planting a SeedOthers, Exploitation , Family
Contributed by: Crossroads Prison Ministries
Lewis’ story is a reminder of the grace and mercy of God — but it’s also a comfort to those of us who wonder about the effects of our ministry.
My parents were alcoholics until I was 6 years old. Because of the drinking, I was physically, sexually, and emotionally abused by my mother. An uncle sexually abused me too, when I was a toddler. My dad drove long distances and would be gone two weeks at a time.
Porn was introduced at an extremely young age. The first book I remember is not Dr. Seuss, but porn. I recall skipping school from kindergarten to go to a friend’s house. He had a tree fort, and I would bring my dad’s porn.
When I was six years old, my brother heard about Jesus and that He was in the business of changing families. He was saved, and came home and told my mom and I. After a few short weeks, we started going to church. At the end of every message, the pastor had an altar call. At six years old, I went up, and for the next month I kept going forward because I wanted him to know I was serious. My mom also got saved. She started attending AA, and gave up the alcohol.
God is good, because my dad got saved too, and he came home. He had me follow him round the house as he gathered up all the bottles from his hiding spots. Then, with the family around the kitchen sink, we watched him pour it all out.
That was amazing. As a family, we attended church. I found a new place where there were friends and fellowship. I attended everything I could at church. Sunday morning and evening service, Bible study, Friday youth group, and special events. I grew up in the church and served wherever I could.
I also attended Bible camp, became a councillor, assistant director, and this is where I feel I was lead into my career as a nurse. I saw the camp’s nurses and thought they had the best job in the world. I attended youth retreats too. I was more involved in church than in school. My brother and I led a Bible study in our high school for a few years.
Despite all that, there was something that would continue to creep into my life: porn.
I was addicted to porn my entire life. It destroyed my first marriage. And when my second wife and I adopted our four children — two sons and two daughters — I continued to turn to porn. Because of my earliest experiences as a victim, it placed two thoughts in my head: what happened was normal and I would never be the victim again.
I began to seek an opportunity to meet my needs outside of porn. I knew that if I had an affair with a co-worker, it would end up on Facebook and I would lose my family. If I used an escort, because of the high risk of an STI, I would lose my family.
My daughters were at an age that I knew they would not be able to speak or explain, and so I victimized both of them. The guilt, shame, and fear became extreme. I went and sought help in the States and was told not to share, because they would need to report a crime had been committed.
Eventually, my oldest daughter said something to my wife. Deep down, I hoped that would happen. When my wife asked about it, I admitted the offence.
A few days later, after leaving the home, I decided to turn myself in with a full confession. I knew it would be the only way for the cycle to stop. The only way they could get the help they needed.
My selfishness and the depravity of my mind allowed me to cross one line after another. I never told God I didn’t want to serve Him. I said: “You can have it all, but.” This “but” grew larger and larger until I found myself so far from the Lord, so far into sin, that I could not find a way out.
I crossed many small lines. Eventually, when I crossed a major one, it appeared the same as all the other ones I had crossed. The blessing God provided in the form of my daughters, I victimized.
As I sat in the police station, I knew that life was about to take a drastic change. Life as I knew it was over. I would lose my family, my career, and my reputation. I would be left with nothing. But I told the truth. The verse “the truth shall set you free” was what lead me to confess, and it was accurate.
I sat in my first jail cell in my life, and I was set free. I had peace that passes all understanding. I still have that peace today. I could wake each day since, and say this is the day the Lord has made — I will rejoice in it.
God’s Word has come alive to me. Psalm 40:1-2 is the first verse I opened the Bible to in the first jail cell. I’m more on fire for the Lord, for His Word, and sharing His love with others than I’ve been in many years.
As I’ve studied the Crossroads material, I’ve read Scripture that I read as a young man, and the words have leapt off the page. Jeremiah 15:16 says “when Your Word came, I ate them.” I have consumed, devoured, chewed, and continued to munch on God’s work.
Often, as I start reading God’s Word, I’m stopped in my tracks and I can’t move past until I eat it. As I’ve gone through the studies, my Bible has been marked up more than the one I’ve had since I was sixteen years old. The Scripture that has leapt off the page, I’ve made a point to jot down. It’s gotten to the point I could plaster my wall.
I attend a variety of chapel services, and I’m learning what real church looks like. The key question is: who is Jesus to you, and what’s His role in the Trinity? God continues to open doors to share the amazing Hope we have in Christ.
There are guys here who are not in Christ, but recognize that He is in me. Men come to me to ask me to preach to them. They are not drawn because of me — they are being drawn to Christ in me.
Just as Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:15-16: “I claim this for my life. I am the worst sinner who Christ came to save, showing me the mercy that Christ might display His immense patience as an example to those who would believe in Him. Without God, I am nothing.”
I have been able to share Jesus first out of a caring heart. This is not a common characteristic here. When the door is open, I know I just trust the Holy Spirit. God has helped me to not only care about the men, but He has given me a spirit of encouragement. Because of the amazing Grace I have received in my own life, I find it so easy to extend that grace to others.
I want to say thank you to the Crossroads for being there in the darkness, lighting the way, and giving hope to the hopeless. May I encourage each of you with 1 Corinthians 3:6: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.”
You will not see the effects of planting a seed that can produce 40-60 or 100-fold. You cannot see if you are dealing with the next Tozer or Billy Graham. But when we face each other in heaven, and they line up to say thank you for giving to the Lord, I am that life that was changed.
Do not give up. Know that with every man who hears the Word and is changed, it will impact his family. They will share with others. Ministries can be established, new careers formed, institutions changed, communities shaken, and the world will know we are Christians by our love.
“May the Lord bless you and keep you; May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; May the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”
Blessings from your brother in Christ.
Lewis’ story has been edited to adjust its length and clarity, and protect his privacy. He has been a Crossroads student since July 2018, and is currently a Tier 2 student. Photo by Blake Carpenter on Unsplash.