As I continue to try to social distance as much as possible, today I finished a book I found at the prison chapel. It is called ” A Better Way” by John Barrow. The book is about the author himself. He started young as a criminal serving 3 masters: Drugs, Alcohol, and Sex. By the age of 13 he experienced all of them and realized that he wanted as much of each as he could get.
The book goes on describing all his crimes that landed him in prison such as: burglaries, buying drugs, selling drugs, stealing cars, etc… He found himself going in and out of prison. Many times he would be clean a few months, and then his lusts get the best of him and sure enough right back to jail. This frustrated him because he was introduced to the gospel message about how Yeshua (Jesus) paid the price for his sins. However, he admits to losing that focus and gratefulness for the freedom. His human heart craved the forbidden fruit so much so that he was willing to give up everything else.
Eventually he turned his life around in prison when he realized he stopped looking vertical to God for his fulfillment and just looked horizontal to give him his pleasures. Like myself, and I am sure others, we do the same. Being in prison like this author definitely allows me to grasp the fact that our best offense in life is going vertical to be in alignment with the Almighty. In fact, like me, this author also wrote how he started fasting and praying more often in prison. It allowed him to be content in whatever situation he is in much like Paul says in Philippians 4:11. The author states contentment is key to winning the race. It keeps us anchored so we can find joy in the mundane and simpler things in life.
The author realized through his trials of life that he needed to walk out his faith. One of his secrets to doing this is getting up early in the morning to pray and read his Bible. This filled his spiritual tank with the fuel he needed to get through the day. The author firmly feels that whatever one has to learn the hard way will surely benefit others and encourage them when they hear you share your experiences and the things you have learned going through it. I sincerely hope this prison experience of mine will serve as a springboard to others so they can know adversity can be overcome.
As the book drew to a close, I found myself really understanding what the author has been through. In fact, he described the 4 main types of people one finds in prison: Weak and not bright, strong and not bright, weak yet smart, and strong and smart. Seriously that is exactly how it is in prison. The strong and not bright group is what appears to be at least 60% of the inmates are like here. You look at them the wrong way, watch out. I fall under that category of weak yet smart. I blend in and mingle, pick the right friends, and avoid volatile situations.
The author discusses how he became a changed person in prison. He now runs a very successful masonry business, became an elder of a church, a father, a husband, and started a wonderful ministry called A Better Way geared toward helping former incarcerated people. He even received a full pardon from his past crimes. AMAZING!!!
I am glad I read this book. It reminded me to continue extending ourselves to others because we have seen the hand of God extended to us. No longer just looking inwardly and thinking about ourselves, our rights, and our own agenda. Hopefully when I get out, I can visit the author’s ministry down in Georgia and express my gratitude for all of his hard work.