Often in blog posts, I have talked about my experience conducting research in the Richmond City Jail. It’s hard to believe this journey began over 6 years ago. I vividly recall walking into the jail – onto the tier – with about 100 male convicted felons.
I clearly remember some of the first men that I met on the tier of the jail – Darryl, Gilbert, Karl, and Tim. I conducted several one-on-one interviews with these men and really got to know their story, background, and struggles. During the remainder of their incarceration, I was able to see immense growth in each of them.
A local non-profit, Kingdom Life Ministry (KLM), worked inside of the jail with these men. During this time, the seed was planted – recovery began and each of them came to know Christ while incarcerated. Upon release from the City Jail, Darryl, Gilbert, and Tim went directly to live in the Kingdom Life Ministry house (KLM); Karl was sent to another prison facility and upon release from there came to the KLM house. This is where their full transformation occurred. Moving into the house provided a safe place to live away from the people, places, and things that previously kept them living a life of addiction. It afforded an opportunity for their spiritual walk with the Lord to be strengthened, while also bolstering their recovery. Skills on applying, obtaining, and maintaining a job were fostered. Progress began in rebuilding life with their family and children.
Fast-forward six years and here we are today! While I was skeptical as I entered this field and had a mind-set that most of the general public that “these people can’t change,” time has revealed ten-fold this is far from reality…
I regularly stay in contact with Darryl, Gilbert, Karl, and Tim and each are doing great! It is truly amazing to see the transformation. Each of them has a great job – which they obtained while living in the KLM house and to this day still have that same job. Darryl has a delicious catering company (S&G Catering), which I have had the opportunity to taste on several occasions – YUM! Tim is the manager of Ashley Furniture (Hull Street) in the Richmond, where I have bought several pieces of furniture! Gilbert works for a moving company. Karl also works for Ashley Furniture. Darryl and Gilbert are also the house managers for KLM. Each of these men are extremely involved with their family – one is married and all of his children live with him; one has custody of his children who at one time hated him and would not speak to him. The consistency of success displayed by these four men is not short of a work of God and a miracle!
It is the stories of these men that make this line of work so encouraging and gratifying. They are living proof that they can change, that addicts can stay clean, and that they truly are good people. Speaking of success, here is what they say about their success:
“Kingdom Life Ministry has been a great help in my recovery of drugs and alcohol. I’m 4 years clean and sober today I thank God because without KLM I don’t know where I would be. It saved my life and I got my family back. KLM has genuine people who believe in second chances. It’s a great program and it works if you are willing. God is truly awesome!” ~~ Gilbert
“Where does one start with this journey of being clean after 4 years? … A word of hope, inspiration, and motivation because of God’s promise:
HOPE: to know if I really put all my effort into making a real change in my life, no matter the social change I had to experience this time after so many failed attempts of coming out of prison, I am willing to do so because of the hope in not being a failure any more.
INSPIRED: on a day to day basis to stay away from all the old places, people, and things of old habits and to create a new frontier of life in the pursuit of new knowledge and ideals. Because I knew in my soul I must keep pushing and tell myself to NEVER give up! Statistics say we lose, I say we never again (LOSE!).
MOTIVATED: to never use excuses or others as the reason I failed at any thing such as family building, love relationship, maintaining a job, and making meetings, to name a few. Or just doing what is asked of me without complaining or getting frustrated because the minute I tell myself I can’t ( all bets are off ) in this recovery process. Despite all opposition, I continue to tell myself, I can do it, I can really live today free of drugs and all the mess that was once apart of my everyday life. I on a day to day continue to say ‘I can do any and all things through Christ Jesus’.” ~~ Karl
“I will be clean 5 years on June 2. I have learned that getting clean transformed my life and allowed God to bless me with things that I took for granted for so long. I have my family back and now deal with living life on life terms.” ~~ Darryl
“This walk of mine for the last six years has been hard, but when I think about the craziness of the addiction there is no comparison. Looking into my children’s eyes and feeling their love makes me realize what I gave away so stupidly and work everyday to reclaim.” ~~ Tim
To hear testimony directly from Gilbert, Tim, and Darryl and their families, click here to watch the KLM video.
You can also visit the KLM facebook page by clicking here. A website full of stories like these four is under development and should be live for you to view soon – we will post the live link on facebook as soon as it’s ready!