Brandon Duncan: Finding Freedom in Prison
By Dory Nissen
The 700 Club
Brandon Duncan’s earliest memories had nothing to do with a happy childhood. “I was in constant fear at home. Fear. That’s what I remember feeling when I would see my stepdad abuse my mom. I was paralyzed. ‘What should I do? How can I help?’”
Brandon was too young to help his mom, but he dreamed of being a gangster, like the powerful men he saw on TV. “When I saw the gangsters - they had it all and they never were helpless. And I guess that was my escape thinking, ‘You know what? One day I’m going to be a bad man, and this man will never hurt my family again.’”
When Brandon got older, he jumped right into the life of crime he’d always dreamed about. He stole anything and everything he could. “I felt powerful, I felt fearless. I know it’s wrong. It’s the law. But I can break it. And nobody will catch me.”
Eventually, the law caught up with him. He was convicted of armed robbery and sent to prison for 15 years.
“The environment was chaos, hate and violence. The gangs were the focus. It was hate all day. You woke up in the morning and it was hate and rage and violence.”
Brandon’s real gangster life was not the Hollywood version he’d seen on TV as a child. “When the lights went out at the end of the day. I was scared. Terrified, I’d think ‘I made it through one more day. I hope I make it through tomorrow.’”
Several years into his time, Brandon met a man who was visiting inmates. He‘d spent years in prison himself, but had become a Christian. “How did he go from dark to light? How did he escape this vicious cycle that I was in? I actually started talking to this man and he prayed with me. I prayed the prayer of salvation. I thought I felt a burden lifted from me. Here’s the thing. I turn away from this great guy w hose got light and love in him, I go right back to darkness, hate, and violence.”
So when he learned a new inmate was convicted of abuse it reminded him of his childhood—and he snapped. “I thought it was my job to give this man what he deserved, to be punished, and the punishment he deserved was violence. I beat him half to death. I had no remorse for hurting that man.”
He was moved to another area of the prison, but all the inmates knew about Brandon’s brutal, unprovoked attack, and turned against him. “For months they yelled death threats to me. After about 4 or 5 months I was going to go insane. I couldn’t take it anymore. I had one book in that cell. I used it for a pillow because they’d take my mattress every day at 6am until 6pm. But I was allowed to keep my Bible. I used it as a pillow.”
“When I got so consumed with despair. I actually thought about killing myself to shut it off. I picked up the Bible and started reading. I had a Bible that had red writing in it, which means Jesus’ words. And I would focus on those. I remember sitting there reading for hours and feeling a peace and a protection was on my life.”
Then Brandon learned his mother left her abusive husband and had become a Christian. She prayed for Brandon every day. “My heart was hurting every day because I missed my mom. I realized how powerful my family’s prayers were for me. I started to deep down feel my goals and aspirations in life were changing. See, now I’m dreaming of ‘I gotta get out and be a good guy now. I want to love my family.’”
Brandon realized God was real and wanted Jesus Christ in his life. “I said ‘It’s all or nothing.’ I’m living for Jesus. I knew that this was it. I was on my knees that day surrending like I never was. ‘Please Jesus have mercy on me, take this from me.’ And I don’t know how long I was on the floor; I don’t know how long I was praying or how loud I was praying. I know that I was freed. I was given another chance; a different life.”
Brandon began reading the Bible every day. He also started to correspond with a biker ministry that helped him get anchored in his relationship with Christ. He got out prison two years later, and started going to church. His mom supported him every step of the way. Today, Brandon works as a counselor, helping kids make better choices than he did. Brandon is a very different man than he once was.
“Today I’m a new person because of Jesus and the blood that was shed. Now I have hope and I have love in my heart, today. I can’t even find the words for the love and gratitude I have for saving a wretch like me. Jesus died for me, for me
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