Calvary Temple Prison Ministry brings the message of forgiveness and hope.
I’ve been a member of Calvary Temple Church in Sterling VA for over 25 years now. We are passionate about reaching the lost and encouraging the Believers in our community. We have many Events throughout the year to spread the Gospel. I hope you find the following letter to be a blessing.
The following is a letter from an inmate that I’m sure will encourage you.
I am in search of fellow Christians who can offer love and fellowship without judgment. So often, people seem to have a negative or indifferent opinion of all inmates. Although it is true, the penal system is an isolated and volatile community ruled by its own rules. However, Jesus still walks amongst us, and there are many great treasures behind prison walls that have been made into new men and women because of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we need the support of our free Christian brothers and sisters. God never intended for us to be solo Christians. One of the first things a person should do after becoming a Christian is find good solid Christian friends. Galatians 6:2 reads “share each other’s troubles and problems and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Although God wants us to turn to Him first in times of trouble, He also knows that we need Christian brothers and sisters here on earth to help us through our difficulties.
Often disrespected and physically abused by a select few correctional officers and gang members who consider anyone to be a Christian weak and undeserving of any respectful treatment, it is most encouraging to know there people in the free community who care about incarcerated Christians and the odious conditions in which we are forced to co-habitate. Please don’t let anyone (Satan) convince you that you can’t be a light or a hope and make a difference in a prisoner’s life. There is one church filled with believers, and we are all converted by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God meant for his people to stand together as one against this world’s system and yet Satan wants some of us to feel alone, forgotten, abandon, discouraged, and lost behind steel and brick.
42 years of living; 22 spent in the violent of prisons in the state of Virginia where I should have fallen victim to the many traps set to destroy the body and mind has taught me that:
Difficult times come to everyone, yet it is our response to trials that define who we are.
I believe that each individual soul is meant to be a growing song unto the world. Although we cannot always remove each other’s heavy burdens, we can share each other’s experiences by listening, playing, visiting, giving sound counsel, writing encouraging letters, sharing scriptures, forgiveness, and the love we all need. As we comfort and encourage one another in this way, we work together to fulfill God’s plan for His church to be faithful. Anyone living for Christ must understand that no human heart is worthless.
When I first read about love in the Bible, it appeared very alien to me. However, it was through the words in the Bible that I learned how much God loved me. I was deeply inspired by the selfless grace and love of Jesus. I didn’t know such a love existed. Needless to say, I was far from God in those years, a terrible person, and a great sinner. Looking back, it’s easy to see how I got that way.
My parents separated for good when I was nine years old. The last memory of my earthly father is of him threatening my mother and me with a rifle as we came out of our home and into the rainy cold night in order to escape his rage and uncontrolled drinking. My mother and I kept looking back as we ran knowing that my oldest brother and only sister were still trapped inside. When we finally came to a local store, my mom called the police and had my father put in jail. That terrible night was the last time I saw my father. On this same rainy night, my 7 year old sister revealed to the rest of the family that our father had molested her several times. Knowing my father was capable of doing something so evil to his own daughter caused me to feel a bitter shame that broke me, and made me realize there was never going to be a better tomorrow.
Alone and not knowing how to provide for her children, my mother moved us in with her family on my grandfather’s tobacco farm in Chatham, Virginia. Immediately, the physical abuse stopped for my mother, but for children, a new form of abuse continued. I have always been afraid of my grandfather and uncle. The constantly called me dumb or lazy. However, I wasn’t dumb or lazy, but whenever I was around my grandfather or uncle, I became so nervous and afraid of being hit that I usually messed up whatever task they wanted me to do. My mother knew that I was being physically abused, but she did nothing to stop it. Her lack of love hurt more than the abuse.
During this period of my life, my mother suffered several nervous breakdowns and had to be hospitalized. Unfortunately, when my mother had to be hospitalized, her youngest sister became our primary care giver. She deeply resented having to care for her sister’s children; therefore she often mistreated us whenever she could. For example, all of my mother’s children wet the bed. Maybe because of the horrible things we experienced through our father. Every morning, our aunt would rush into our bedroom and snatch the covers off the bed. If we were wet, she would beat us with a long piece of stiff wire. Sometimes, she and my grandfather took turns beating me with a peach tree branch that was pleated together. During the assault, they would scream that I was dumb or lazy. They were also fond of making fun of my dark skin. Words can’t express the shame that I felt from living in a house where I wasn’t loved or wanted.
Unfortunately, with everything going on a home, I didn’t do very well in school. I quickly learned that as long as the farm chores were done, nothing much else was expected from me. Around the age of 13, my uncle convinced my mother to put me in a home for boys. Although my mother had put her children in foster homes before, it hurt me to my heart that she would give me over to a Juvenile Prison. I felt abandoned and totally betrayed. I learned that the inside of a cage is a very lonely place. The walls and steel bars and the things like that don’t create your prison. It’s the dark feelings that you create in your own mind that create your cage. It was at this point in my life that I started to hate. I spent one year inside a cell thinking about how my uncle beat me with two by fours, planks of wood, stiff wire, plastic pipes, belts, his fists, and any object in his reach when he was angry. Incarceration changed me. When I finally returned home, my mother and I began having problems. The truth is, I didn’t respect her anymore. I was old enough to know now that a mother doesn’t let others abuse their children. I didn’t respect her because we didn’t have food to eat, but she never ran out of cigarettes to smoke. She wouldn’t work so that her children could have a better life, choosing instead to split the family up. The day my two brothers went to live with other relatives was one of the worst days of my childhood.
At the age of 14, I started smoking marijuana heavily and hanging out with much older people. I dropped out of school to work, and I started carrying a .32 pistol wherever I went. From the age of 14, no one put their hands on me without a fight. One evening as I returned home from work, my mother demanded that I give her some money. I told her, “No.”, because she received a welfare check and food stamps once a month of which she spent on things other than me. She got upset, and while I was taking a shower, she called the police and told them that I had hit my grandfather which was not true. I was later found innocent of all charges, but when the Judge asked my mother if I could return home, she said, “No.”. Therefore, I was sent to a Juvenile Boys home called “Beaumont”. By this point in my life, I was numb to everything and everyone around me. While at Beaumont, all I did was fight other boys. I was introduced to rap music. I began to dress differently, talk differently. I was ashamed of being a farm boy. Therefore, I created a person that I thought others would love. When people asked me where I was from, I lied. I would rather have died than tell people I was a farm boy who lived in a house that didn’t have running water in it until I was 10 years old.
I was released from Beaumont and transferred to another home for boys in Norfolk, VA in 1990. Several months later, I escaped. Eventually, I ended up living on the streets in a place called Ocean View. Ocean View was nothing more than a 5 mile strip of hotels, bars, and crack houses that run parallel with the beach. I met girls as young as 13 years old prostituting themselves for crack cocaine. Although I knew the destructive powers of crack cocaine, I began selling it to survive. I was good at selling crack because I didn’t smoke it. The more money that I made, the more indifferent I became to what was going on around me. It finally took the death of my girlfriend and our unborn child from a crack cocaine overdose to make me realize the hopelessness of being addicted to crack cocaine.
At the age of 17, I was arrested and certified as an adult and sent to prison for the first time for selling crack to an undercover cop. I hit rock bottom in prison. My young spirit yearned to be free. I soon fell into a deep state of depression. It felt like my life was over. Entering prison at such a young age was the most devastating thing that could have happened to me. I was young and powerfully built, but others my age weren’t as strong. While doing time in a notorious prison nick-named “The Slaughter House”, I witnessed a young man who was very close to me being brutally raped and beaten. Although I did what I could to stop it, seeing something like that changed me forever. It made me cold and turned by heart of flesh into a heart of stone.
After 22 months of fighting, riots, and sleeping with one eye open, I was given $25.00 and released from prison. I went back to the city of Norfolk, and it wasn’t long before I began getting drugs again. One night, two rival gang members robbed me at gunpoint. Nearly losing my life over a few hundred dollars caused me to search for a safer way to support myself. When my parole officer learned that a dangerous gang leader was trying to kill me, he made me leave the city of Norfolk. I found within the city limits of Norfolk, my parole could be violated, and I would be sent back to prison. A few weeks later, I found myself working in a furniture factory in Martinsville, Virginia where I met the mother of my daughter. Learning that I would soon become a father again depressed me because I knew I had already committed the crimes for which I am incarcerated now.
In 1993, after losing my job, I committed two armed robberies. I am ashamed of my terrible past life. I am not proud of my testimony; neither do I take any glory in it. If I could go back in time and undo all of the terrible crimes I’ve committed, especially the armed robbery, I would gladly do it.
I was sent back to prison for armed robbery, use of a firearm in a felony, burglary, and failure to stop. I was numb and happy to let the bitterness and anger consume me. I soon earned a reputation for being cold and ruthless. I spent many years in prison building up more time for confrontations with both prisoners and guards. I was taken back to court and given more time for: assault and battery, malicious wounding, and possession of a weapon. I ended up with 45 years, 30 months, and 10 days. Some of it I deserved and some of it I didn’t. There was a lot of evil done to me as well. I was beaten by guards, starred, stabbed, had bones broken, falsely accused of crimes I didn’t commit in order to cover up their excessive abuse towards me, electrocuted with a stun belt repeatedly, tortured almost to the point of death by repeatedly spraying me with oleoresin capsicum pepper spray, and isolated alone for years degraded and made to feel less than human. I didn’t care if I lived or died and my prison record reflected my hopelessness.
I was poised to spend the rest of my life this way, but God had other plans for me.
One night, after many years of self-destructive behavior, I gave what was left of my broken life to Jesus Christ. If it were not for God’s undying mercy and impeccable timing, I would be dead. Ephesians 2:8-9 reads, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” God looked beyond my faults and saw my needs. There is no way to fully comprehend or explain God’s unmerited favor. All we can do is humbly accept it.
It’s hard to say in words what being saved is like, but that moment changed my life forever. At first there was a kind of wrenching in my chest – an inner longing for God and a better way of life that gradually grew into a storm. Kneeling on the cold floor of my prison cell, I called out to God. Words failed me so I just cried out, “God, please take the pain, bitterness, and loneliness away!”
Immediately, the power of God spoke to me in my heart, and the Holy Spirit pulsed through me like the burn of fire; tears ran down my face and that, in itself, gave me hope because for the first time in my life, I felt completely loved.
The Bible says that “God works all things together for the eternal good of those who love Him.” My life is a living illustration of this great truth. Unfortunately, it took the cold reality of prison to teach me to value the things of God. It is my testimony that God spoke to me with healing words in my darkest hour. God also gave me the knowledge to go back to school and get my G.E.D. The Lord has blessed me with a love for writing Christian and classical poetry. I successfully completed the Source of Light correspondence Bible study program, and at present, I am looking forward to pastoral courses on a deeper level. All things are possible through God.
I love the Lord, but my walk with the Lord has not been problem free. For years, I wrestled with the shame of bringing a child into the world that I couldn’t support. My daughter was born while I was in prison on March 22, 1994. Watching your child grow from a baby into a woman from behind prison walls is complete torture. However, God has continuously blessed my daughter; she is attending her third year at College.
In 1997, I was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus and hypertension, and at one point during my incarceration, I was doomed to spend the rest of my life in prison without any hope of release. It was only by the grace of God that I didn’t lose my freedom totally. Now, I could be free via “parole” as soon as 2019. These setbacks taught me that a relationship with God does not immunize us against the difficulties that life sometimes brings which is why I need the support of Christian brothers and sisters.
Over the years, God has kept a song in my heart. Now that I am a committed Christian, I want my life to be involved in positive things as I prepare to reenter society. I long for good Christian friends with whom I can learn from and who God can use to encourage me in my growth in His word and purpose.
Now that my heart is thirsting for a better way, God has also laid it upon my heart to tell my story for His glory so that those who are heading down the same road on which I once traveled, suffering through the toughest of circumstances can know that there is a God who’s reaching out to them in love and longs to give them hope and a new life in Christ Jesus.
When we are willing to surrender everything to Him, God strengthens us in a way that allows us to overcome drugs, fear, violence, alcohol, of whatever the devil has used in the past to try to destroy you. I now have the privilege of worshiping God and receiving His wonderful promises. Now that I have a home in heaven, all I want from this world is the love of my Christian family and to show non-Christians what wonders the Lord can do when you merely have an open heart.
I would like to meet people in the church who would be willing to build a friendship of encouragement with me. I also enjoy sharing Christian poetry with other Christians. I’ve heard a lot of good things concerning this church and your joy in helping inmates.
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About Calvary Temple
Calvary Temple is an independent church which holds to all Assemblies of God tenets of faith. Calvary Temple ministries include Discipleship Training, adult Bible college, media ministry, and an aggressive missions program.
Pastor Star R. Scott is Senior Pastor of Calvary Temple in Sterling, Virginia, where he has ministered since 1973. In addition to the pastoral gift, Pastor Scott functions in the five-fold offices of apostle and prophet. He has planted churches, and currently oversees the pastors and ministries of numerous satellite churches.