Christian Rehab Helps Criminal Find Christ
By Michelle Wilson
The 700 Club
“I’m inside of a building in the cell block looking up 60 to70 feet. I smell the burning toilet paper. I see the dirt and the garbage, ‘Oh my goodness, what did I just get myself into?’” says Michael.
Michael Bryant spent a third of his life at San Quentin, one of America’s most notorious prisons. “I’ve been to prison 9 times for drugs, vehicle theft, and insurance fraud.”
Michael’s says his life growing up was challenging. When he was 10 his mother robbed an armored car. Before the police came looking for her she left town for good.
Michael remembers, “I went in the house like I do every day when I get home from school. But this time the house was empty. And I was a little confused and I went to my bedroom. And the TV that she bought me for my birthday was gone. And I remember running outside and the car was gone. I never saw her again to this day.”
Michael went to live with his alcoholic father who spent most of his time at bars. In fact, he often took Michael with him and left him waiting outside in the truck. Sometimes the only meal he ate came from a stranger. “One of the ladies would bring me dinner. I’d eat the dinner and be thankful for it.”
Michael also was a victim of his father’s severe discipline. “The chastisement was extremely harsh. I mean, he’d beat the crap out of me at that stage.”
Michael wanted a better life for himself so he graduated from high school at just 16. Soon after, he left home and held down three jobs. He also started using meth.
Michael recalls, “Everybody else was in a room, peer pressure, I didn’t know what it was or anything like that, so I did it just along with everybody else. And it grabbed a hold of me a lot harder than it did everybody else in the room. And there was a heightened sense of euphoria, for everybody. And then that heightened sense of euphoria ended up becoming a coping mechanism.”
Still Michael thought he was living the good life. “I actually had my own house. I had plenty of money. I had cars and stuff. But there was still something missing.”
Then one of Michael’s jobs, washing semis, turned into an opportunity to make big money. “A friend of mine said hey, ‘I can get you $10,000 if you bring me a bulldozer.’ And I said, ‘Well, you’ll have to take a truck with it.’ And he says, ‘Okay.’”
So Michael quit his jobs and started stealing and selling trucks. “The feeling that I got with the first time that I stole a big rig, it was a sick sense of accomplishment. I actually felt that I’d had arrived.”
But that feeling was short lived. At 20 years old, Michael was arrested and sentenced to three years in San Quentin. While there, Michael started reading the Bible. But the reason he says was to make money.
Michael remembers, “I wanted to read and learn about this God that the Christians serve. So that I could fool them into making them think that I was a Christian so they would do business with me. I had these grandiose ideas that I was going to get out of prison and start my own business.”
But as he read, he began to understand God’s love for him. Then, one day he accepted Jesus as his savior. “He wasn’t just a God. He wasn’t just a Creator. He wasn’t just a Savior. He became my best friend. And I dropped to my knees and I remember saying, ‘Oh my goodness, this is real.’”
Michael enjoyed his new faith. But he never dealt with his drug addiction or his past.
So when he got out, he went back to using and committing various crimes. For the next five years he was in and out of prison. Yet no matter how many times he failed, he believed God still loved him.
Michael recalls, “Every time I relapsed, even after I knew God, my high was never the same. It was almost like God came in and ruined my high every time. Although I knew Him, was walking with Him, I didn’t use Him to cope with a lot of my problems.”
Michael was determined to set his life straight. So when he got out of prison he started a concrete business. He also began dating a woman who was a Christian.
“Dana prayed for me daily. In front of me, there were times where I’d walk in and she’d be on her knees with her forehead to the ground, praying for me. God heard her.”
Michael believes her prayers were answered when he went to prison for the 9th and final time on a DUI charge. Not only did he receive treatment for his drug addiction, Michael says God showed him the true meaning of forgiveness.
“God came into my cell,” says Michael. “He was tangible. I mean I could almost reach out and touch Him. The Holy Spirit was right there, and He told me that He forgave me. And I remember I started crying. I’m laying down in my cell and so I have these tears going down, but I’m not sad. And I just saying, loudly, ‘Thank You. Thank You.”
This time when he was released, Michael knew he could trust God with every part of his life. Today, he is drug and alcohol free. He married Dana and they have three children. Michael knows no matter how many times you fall God’s grace and mercy is always there to pick you up again.
Michael says, “A believer that has failed 10, umpteen times. They don’t need to be despondent. They need to look at the life giver, Jesus Christ, as the author and finisher of their faith. He really does forgive.”
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