Freedom Behind Bars 2/2
(Please listen to Gene’s story by clicking the white play button at the top of this post. You can read the transcript of the story below.)
So I always say that, you know, Jesus got me ready for heaven. But the Holy Spirit got me ready to do work on earth. And to be a witness and be a testimony to the Lord, both in character, because it gave me a greater level of strength. When I pray, both in the vernacular or in my spiritual language, it gave me a strength that, I know came from the Lord, you know, and you can hype yourself up so much, you know, but when you go through a prison day with the, demonic surrounding and, and the oppression that’s in there, and you’re soaring in faith, in sharing the Word of God and ministering day in and day out and not growing tired, not growing weary, you know, it’s not you, it’s not, you know. I know it’s the Holy Spirit.
I remember this guy Orlando, he’s out now. He got out a year ago. He was involved in everything when I met him. He was Hindu, Buddhist. He tried everything, Catholicism, everything. He’s a very bright guy. He shows up in my cell one day, just comes and knocks on my cell door and comes in and sits down. And I was like, kind of taken…. We’d never spoke. We had mutual friends. It was kind of weird. So I had been watching a show about Jesus on A&E or something. And he said, “What are you doing?” I said, “I was watching this show.” And so he sat there and it was kind of on my mind. I’m like, “Orlando’s sitting in my cell. I don’t really know him. And we never talked before. But okay, God, something’s up,” you know.
So we begin a discussion. And at the end of the hour discussion. He didn’t have a Bible and I said, “Do you have a Bible?” He said, “No, my brother sent me a Bible some years ago, (he had about 20 years in) and he said, “My brother sent me a Bible.” And he said, “But I don’t know what I did with it.” And I said, “I have a Bible here. Will you take it?” He said, “What should I do?” So something in me wanted to lead him to the Lord right there. And I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Don’t lead him to the Lord.” I was like, That’s strange. So I gave him the Bible and he said, “So what should I read?”
I said, “Read the book of Philippians.” So I showed it to him. I said, “There’s four chapters. Just read a chapter tonight.” So he comes back the next day, Sunday, and I read that chapter, chapter one of Philippians is so good. And he pointed out a verse or two. We talked for an hour, he leaves. He comes back the next day. He said, “Man, I read chapter two. This verse here is incredible. This I never saw this. This is a great verse.” Third day, another verse, fourth day, another verse, and he’s like, everyday he comes to my cell and we’re talking. I want to lead him to the Lord. I want to say, Hey, can I introduce you to the Lord and pray for you. And the Lord kept saying, don’t. So he leaves the fourth day and he says he’s going to read another book. And I said, well read Colossians. And I’m just, I didn’t realize I wasn’t saying it with a purpose. I just, that was in front of my mind’s eye to read Colossians. So as he left, I would pray for him. I would pray for him, I’d pray for him to get saved. I prayed for him to know the Lord. Lord showed me, he said, “I told you to have him read Philippians because it depicts Jesus as a servant, and you can’t argue with a servant from where he was at. So, and when it came to Colossians, He said, “I told you to have him read Colossians, because it depicts Jesus as supreme, there’s no one higher than Jesus.” And so he you know, so that was what he told me.
So he come back, chapter one, same thing, next day, 2, 3, 4. So on the ninth day, he comes to my cell, and he sits down and he’s kind of somber, he’s kind of looking almost like, sad. He’s not upbeat, you know. I said, “What’s going on Orlando?” And he’s real quiet, and he says, “I did something, I did something today that I never did before.” So I thought maybe he screwed up, he messed up, or something. I said, “So what’d you do, what happened, man? I said, “What’d you do?” He said, “I prayed.”
I said, “You prayed? What’d you pray?” He said, “Jesus save me, I’m a nut.”
And I laughed, you, I mean, I was cracking up. And he looked at me, like What? What are you laughing about? I said, I said, I saw it in his eyes, he started welling up with tears. And I said, “So what happened?” He said, he said, “Jesus changed my life.” He said, “I got rid of the … I got rid of the garbage. I got rid of this.” He said, “I went I apologized to people..”
And I said, ‘You’re born again.” And he said, “I knew I knew I was born again.” And so Orlando, he went on, he spent a couple years in prison after I left. He spent a couple of years in there. He’s out now. But literally, every cell mate he had, he led to the Lord, I can’t. I know like, I wish I could say every cell mate I had over the years, they came to know the Lord, you know, I wish they would at least leave better than when they came in my cell, you know. But Orlando was, so he was so dynamic. And he would just lead people to Lord. He’s doing extremely well, you know, and he’s, the first inmate, Christian inmate that I was influencing along the way that would call me dad. It was surprising on a Father’s Day some years ago, he gave me a Father’s Day card and he said you’re a father figure to me.
And I thought, man! Wow, how humbling. What a great responsibility that another guy would look at you as a dad and it’s so that kind of changed my ministry to, you know, and so Orlando’s an incredible, incredible incredible guy. And part of the the investment you make in people’s lives and you see it over the years.
You know, I remember you know, even years before my release, I always prayed for these three things. I prayed for…I prayed for a wife. I prayed to be a homeowner. And I prayed for a car. So there were, there were three things I prayed every day, even long before I was even in court. This is when I had 20 years in. And I remember reading a driver’s manual book in the prison. And I had no chance of getting out. But I wanted to see myself driving a car, wanted to see myself doing those things, eating at a restaurant, and going to a professional ball game and stuff like that.
And so we had a Tuesday morning prayer group in the chapel, in the prison chapel. And it started with six guys. It was like 80-90 guys would gather every Tuesday morning from 10 to 11. And we’d go in there and pray in groups, individually, but we’d always go in there and dedicate that hour to prayer for the ministry. I was in there and I remember praying with some other guys, my buddy Jose and some other guys. I was telling him, you know, we need to pray for release. And we need to pray for God’s provision. And God, you know, all these things. I was telling those guys, and so we went on to pray. As I was praying for a car, I literally saw a hand in front of me with keys. It was this image of a hand with keys. And after we got done praying after the hour, and I remember telling my friend Jose, I said, “I’m not going to pray for a car no more. I’m just thanking God,” I said, and I told him that I saw a hand with keys. So I went on to continue to pray for other things over the years.
I can tell you that I don’t, I don’t regret one day of my incarceration, not one day.
Well, I’m out. I’m jumping ahead. I’m now released. I moved to Texas, and in the ministry. I’m working in the office and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like administrative work at all. I was dying inside the office. I needed to be out and about people, you know, as I like being around unbelievers because I just had this evangelistic desire to see people come to know Jesus. And so someone introduced me to a guy named Monte Webb and Monte had a roofing company and they said, ‘Well, Monte might hire you as a roofer and do sales or, you know, do contracts and help them out.” I said, “Good.”
So we went to eat lunch with him. And I shared a little bit of my story and he said, “Well, let’s go back to the office.” So we go back to his office, he’s in Bedford and my friends are with me, and they’re all excited, I’m excited. I’m going to get a job, outside the ministry, you know, and so I go in his office and he said, “Hey shut the door.” So he he’s standing there with a manila folder in his hand, and I thought, Okay, you know, I came from prison, I never did a job interview, you know, the job the prison assigned you jobs, and you do whatever they tell you to do. So, here I am. I’m going to have my first job interview, so I’m kind of nervous, and I’m excited about it. So he says, “Shut the door and he’s standing there. “Hey,” he said, “money is kind of tight right now.” This is in 2012. I’m out two months, I’ve been released two months. He said, “Money is kind of tight. So I really can’t hire anybody. But I’d like to keep you in mind for something if something comes up.” Okay, I was kind of disappointed. Then he said, “But the Holy Spirit told me to give you a check for $10,000.” So he pulls out the check from the envelope and he holds a check to me. And my eyes are like, big as saucers. And I’m like, looking at this check with zeros. Like, I’m counting, like looking at the zeros 10 comma 0 0 0. And I’m like, “Monte,” I said, “come on.” And I thought he was playing, you know. I’m like, I’m waiting for my friends to jump jump out of the room. You know, the inside of the closet and I got you man, good joke. And I’m like Monte, come on. And he’s looking, he’s crying. He’s, like, teared up. And he said, “Seriously, the Holy Spirit told me when we were driving back to the office from lunch, to write you a check for $10,000 and welcome you to Texas. Go buy yourself a car.”
And at that moment, God showed me that prayer with those keys. I said,
We bawled. Oh, my goodness. We just cried like babies.
And I said, “Monte,” I said. He didn’t know, he didn’t know I had I prayed that and saw that and I told him, you know, and we just cried more and more and just worshiped the Lord. It was it was just–I know God provides, you know, and his timing is perfect. And there he does it he does it to build our confidence in him, he does it prove himself strong and mighty, you know, and I know that I know we get faith by the Word of God and and all but there’s those moments where God answers prayers and God does things in your life. It’s just, it’s unbelievable. And so that I’d say that that vision or that whatever I saw that hand, God’s hand, said “You know, I’ve provided.” you know.
And since then, a house also has come about. I had a person hand me a check for $100,000 to purchase a home and I was able to purchase a home over, a little over a year ago. So it’s just, and recently I, yeah, and so recently, so I’ve been out of prison seven years, and I’ve, always wanted to be, always want to be a husband. I want to be a father. I love kids and I’ve dated, and just, you know, when I go out and date and you meet somebody it just doesn’t work. It’s not, it doesn’t fit. You know, sometimes I tried to make it fit. And I’m saying God, but this …and God says, No, you know. So about two years ago, I met a young lady named Autumn.
It’s unbelievable. So I’m so excited that those things at times, I’m like, God I might be single, you know, and, I could not I could not get past that He answers prayer and I prayed for those things. I said, “Well, the three things I prayed for was a car, a home, and a wife. And you’ve answered the first two and they’ve been so etched in my life and my prayer life. So, it is really, it’s amazing. So you said, you see my you see Instagram, my Instagram? You know, it was like my Valentines Day, you know, I put a post out there and, and so, Oh, my goodness.
Yeah. It was funny. I was with a my friend Alex.
And she said something. And she goes, “Well, you’re my sugar.”And I was like… my face turned like hot, right? I says my face is beet red, right. They were laughing.
Yeah, it’s like, I have never experienced that.
Never. Not in high… You know, I told her. I said, “I feel like I’m in high school. It’s like God restored, you know?”
Yeah, he is literally, [restoring the years the locusts have eaten] and I can tell you that. I don’t. I don’t regret one day of my incarceration. Not one day.