I was born and raised in a small town in Northern California. I’m the firstborn in my family, my brothers and sisters are all from different dads; which always made me feel like I wasn’t part of the family.
I grew up angry and resentful, and my mom always glorified my bad behavior. That snowballed into going to CYA at the age of 15. From there I was inducted into a criminal lifestyle with gangs and racial structures. For me it was like I had found my calling. I was all about destruction without mercy. I started using drugs in prison, I did what ever I needed to get what I wanted. I never lasted long outside of the prison walls. When I would get out all I would do was continue down a destructive path.
In 2003 I got busted on a felony and received 8 years. When I was released I stayed clean for 6 months, but as soon as I was off probation, the first thing I did was get high. I stayed out of jail for 3 years on a meth-fueled rampage. During these so called “party days” the same verse kept popping up on billboards and random signs. “Then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” John 8:32, seeing my name is Johnnie, I thought the verse was speaking especial to me.
In 2015, I was back in jail. I decided to read the book of John. It showed me who I was and it cut away the image I had created of myself and broke all the strong holds I built inside. He freed me from my drug use and gave me the boldness to stand for Christ even in prison. While in prison I prayed that the Lord would send me to Grace Chapel in Calipatria State Prison where I could be baptized and learn the guitar. He answered my prayers, I also became the worship leader.
Believe it or not I had a sadness come over me when it came time for me to leave. There was an inmate who was being paroled after 23 years and he new a man named Pastor Erin who worked for a place called U-Turn For Christ. I prayed that if it was the Lord’s will for me to go, then all the doors would open.
I have been welcomed into the church and now continue to serve the Lord. U-Turn For Christ is alive and full of the Holy Spirit. I’m thankful to all those in this ministry.