SAN ANGELO, TX - The jail ministry at the Tom Green County Jail is the largest in a county jail in the state of Texas.
Many of the ministers themselves have spent time behind bars, including a brother and sister I spoke to. Linda Freeman and Ramon Garza say they're living proof that God can change lives.
They share their testimonies with the inmates. I was able to spend some time with two of the inmates who participate in the ministry and even got baptized in the jail. It was their turn to share their testimonies with me.
"I've been a drug addict for a very long time."
"I got arrested with a controlled substance."
"When you're out there and in your addiction, you pretty much forget who you are."
"I've been in here roughly a year now."
"When I first got here, there was no Jesus involved."
"I was not necessarily the rotten egg -- just the apple that rolled a little further from the tree."
"I was angry still. I fought a lot. I've been all over this jail."
"It's a horrible place, but it gives you a good opportunity to find out who you are again."
I asked if they had a "moment."
"I mean, more or less. No matter what you've ever done, it's never too late to bounce back."
"I just got tired of it. I'm tired of being angry, I'm tired of not knowing the way. And I just threw my hands up, and I said, 'God, if you're there, then show me something'....and he did."
"I was very heavily addicted to meth and doing all kinds of things, and it took me actually going to jail a second time and looking at prison time again before I actually, finally, really grasped a relationship with Jesus Christ," Linda Freeman, the women's chaplain for Through God Comes Justice Ministries, said.
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"I was trying to fill a hole inside myself with drugs, alcohol or women or whatever it was, possessions, that only God could fill. And it wasn't until I got into this place and got quiet and was able to really see that that love of Christ was real," Ramon Garza, former inmate turned minister, said.
"I was just looking for something, and I just realized that it's everything around us. Everything is God. Everything is our creator."
"Stop letting the devil win. Even if it takes a trip to the county jail to open your eyes, He's there."
"There's no way but God. But God can do miraculous work," Freeman said.
"It's crazy. When you go under that water and come back up. I really do feel like a new person. I really do. I'm not as angry. Maybe by the time I hit those streets, it'll be different for me."
"Would you ever consider doing this yourself?"
"Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. It's really made me realize that no matter where you come from, your story can always help somebody else. So, if I can stop somebody and say, 'Hey, look in the mirror. Realize who you are right now and who you want to be and realize there are two different paths you can go down.' If I can help anyone stay out of jail, no matter how old they are, that would be amazing."
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