A Gang Life Transformed by God's Grace
By Carrie Matsko
The 700 Club
As a teenager, Patrick fell in with the wrong crowd and began cultivating a lifestyle of criminal activity.
“I joined a gang at 15. I had gotten into selling drugs and we only sold a little here and there. I wanted to make more money, so I talked about doing some robberies,” says Patrick. “Because I had worked at the place before, I didn’t go with them. I just talked with them about the planning of it and they went and pulled it off. Well, a man’s life was taken. I wasn’t with them when they committed it. They did it and I wasn’t even there. So I was thinking it was all on them.”
“I was at school the day before thanksgiving. The vice principal came to the classroom and asked the teacher could he speak with me,” remembers Patrick. “When I stepped out of the door, there were three police officers standing there and they arrested me and told me I was charged with capital murder. I was pinned as the mastermind behind it all.”
Patrick continues, “The penalty for that is life without parole or the death penalty and sitting there, 17 years old, I’m scared now, you know. I don’t know what’s going to happen now. It seemed that the world had more to offer, which was just an illusion. I told God, I know I need to get saved, I know I need Jesus in my life.”
“My first night in jail, I just talked to God, I said, ‘you know, I know I’ve messed up and if you’ll get me out of this, I’ll serve you the rest of my life,’” says Patrick.
“Going to trial, the judge gave the jury three charges they could convict me of,” says Patrick. “I was convicted of felony murder, which only carried the most a life sentence but I had a chance of parole one day. The judge told me, ‘God had mercy on you.’”
“There was a real change in my heart; I was a new creature as the scripture says,” remembers Patrick. “So it wasn’t hard for me to step away and leave that gang life alone. Opening the scriptures up after that, He gradually, continually changed me and changed me. So the prayer changed from, ‘if you’ll get me out of this, I’ll serve you the rest of my life,’ to, ‘whether I ever get out of here or not, I’m going to serve you the rest of my life.’”
Patrick continues, “I began to speak that word over myself, you know, how I am a new creature in Christ. The guy that they arrested is not me. He’s dead. He’s gone.”
“They have school inside, so I got my GED first and then later on, I enrolled in a data processing class,” says Patrick. “I got an associate’s degree in data processing and because of that I was able to get better jobs in the prison. I was able to work for one of the chaplains.”
“As time went on and I stayed in scriptures, I found the scriptures that said, like Psalm 146:7; ‘the end of it said the lord looseth the prisoners.’ Psalm 68:6 says that, ‘he released the prisoners out to a productive life.’ When I saw those scriptures, I was like, I’m going home, and despite the time I have, I believe God. He said he loosed the prisoners. So I believed god for it,’ recalls Patrick.
“After 12 years of incarceration, I went on for parole and the parole board released me. It was just a miracle of God, his favor and mercy that I was released,” says Patrick. “He surrounded me with his favor as Psalm 5:12 says, ‘I have favor with God and man.’”
“When I was released, I had to find a job and so God blessed me with an awesome job at a company here making good money,” says Patrick.
But soon, Patrick felt a call to return to prison. “While I was on the inside, I had a desire, a vision, that once I got out, I would come back and minister to young people in the institution. I was talking to a friend one day at work, and was sharing with him about that, and he told me about a guy he knows that does go into the juvenile detention center and so he got us connected and we talked and a guy let me come in with him. And so I would share my story of how God changed my life, how I was sitting in those seats they’re sitting in at one time, but now I’m free and it’s because of Jesus that I’m free and that he has a plan for them. And so that really is a blessing to me, that my life can serve, can be used to bring hope and somebody out of the plan of the enemy.”
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