Harold couldn’t bring himself to care when the alarm sounded at the pharmacy he was trying to rob. As a heroin addict and junkie, he figured he would receive a five-year sentence, make parole after 18 months, and start a new life. No big deal.
But in the fall of 1997, Harold received a 15-year sentence and was sent to a diagnostic unit in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. But God had a plan for him while in his cell. During his sentence, Harold was given a tract created by First Baptist Dallas titled: "I have decided…" As a result of that tract, Harold made the decision to accept Jesus as the Lord of his life. He was then baptized and began attending church for the first time.
He reached out to what was then the "Prison to Praise" ministry at First Dallas and was contacted by the chaplain. Chaplain Jim Vicklund sent him a discipleship course, which Harold quickly completed. The chaplain continued to send him study after study, along with a completion certificate every time Harold completed a new one. He was hungry to understand God’s Word and biblical principles.
Weeks later, Harold received a letter informing him that a pastor had agreed to pay for his Seminary Education through the Southern Baptist Convention’s Seminary Extension Service out of Nashville, TN. Harold was elated. On April 21, 2001, he earned his diploma in Pastoral Ministries and was released from prison that summer.
However, life after prison was challenging, and despite his faith, Harold soon found himself addicted to drugs again and back in prison. After five more years of incarceration, Harold was released once again returned to drugs.
His low point came on February 25, 2015. Sick of living a life of addiction, he walked into a bank in Cleburne, TX, robbed it, and then sat down in the lobby and waited for the police to arrive. He figured that the rest of his life in prison was better than living one more day addicted to drugs. But the Lord had other plans!
Slowly, Harold began to work towards healing, and the Lord enabled Harold to rewire his brain so that his craving for drugs disappeared. As he spent time with the Lord behind bars, he felt the Lord gently say, "Now that you have come to the end of yourself, I can use you!"
While at the federal halfway house, Harold’s case manager asked if I would like to leave the facility for four hours and attend church. That church was First Baptist Dallas. Harold has been attending ever since and has found hope, healing, and relationships through the ministries.
Praise God for His patience and grace as we wrestle, and praise God for people and ministries who continue to pursue and love those behind bars.