Focused on Him
ANGOLA, LA. – I have always had a knowledge of God and who He was. From childhood I was educated in scripture. Unfortunately, as I got older, I became more arrogant than humble.
The importance of family was instilled in me from an early age. I was a very protective sibling. I surrounded my life with my family, and as a church-going and law-abiding person, I felt that all was well and I was strong enough in God to face any obstacle. I was wrong.
In April of 1995, my life was drastically changed. My youngest brother was taken from me. Murdered. Just around the corner from where I stood. I was supposed to be there protecting him. I begged God to have mercy and let him live, but he still died.
This did not sit well with me. I blamed myself and then I became obsessed with hating God until I suffered from a mental breakdown. I would black out and find myself in places I should not have been. I began to participate in criminal activity, especially seeking out those responsible for my brother’s death. I surmised in my mind that if I couldn’t hurt God then I’d hurt His creation, but my actions brought more pain to those I loved. Eventually, I found myself incarcerated. I began to lose all sense of emotions. I became like a stone.
Upon my release, things did not get better; they seemed to get worse. One day my mother uttered these words to me: “I want my son back.” Whether she was talking to me or God didn’t matter, it had been said. I no longer wanted to hurt anybody, but I did not know how to get back.
I had graduated from college and decided to put these skills to work again. I started a business, but there was a struggle still within me. The business contracts were lucrative and solid but every so often, however, I had violent outbursts. I would become calm again, but I never knew for how long.
One day, knowing I was not living right and needing God to hear me, I prayed. I was afraid that I had gone too far. I asked God to help me, to stop me before it was too late.
Days later I was arrested for armed robbery. I laughed when they recited the charge; surely they had picked up the wrong guy. I was sure I would be out soon, but the days turned into months and I’m still here. Before bitterness began to swell, a Seventh-day Adventist friend reached out. I began participating in cognitive-behavioral counseling programs. God changed my life, but the programs helped me to reach out. I remembered my mother’s words.
I am no longer bitter and sad. I am an Adventist, the church leader at the prison where I am incarcerated. I know that God will prevail on my behalf. I am working on getting an advanced degree in rehabilitative counseling.
The church is sponsoring the spiritual recovery program that I started. Its goal is to assist individuals in erasing the criminal and addictive thinking from their cognitive mind and to think differently, which is more positive. I believe that God will grant my wish to accomplish my educational goal and to assist in my freedom. My only concern is doing His will. My job is to provide the necessary assistance to others that I receive and to show the love and compassion of Christ. This is my testimony and God is my life.
By Demetrius Bradley