Kevin Dodge: Two Life Sentences Later
By Kara Lavengood
The 700 Club
Kevin Dodge takes pleasure in the small things of life.
“I have a mattress that’s this thick! It’s not a metal slab anymore. You know, I mean I’m eating home-cooked meals, I have great fellowship,” Kevin said. “The greatest thing is going hand-in-hand, taking a walk through the park or riding our bicycles together.”
When The 700 Club first met Kevin in 1989, it didn’t look like he’d ever have these luxuries again. He was in prison, serving two life sentences plus 180 years for kidnapping and armed robbery.
“When I was sentenced, they said I was mean beyond any means of rehabilitation, so they basically sentenced me to punishment. They also said I was a man without one redeeming feature. Now that I look back, that quote seems quite fitting,” Kevin said.
Faced with a future behind bars, Kevin contemplated his life’s meaning.
“I knew I had no peace in my life. I knew I had no morals, but there was a deeper thing of having no purpose,” Kevin said, “like, why am I existing? And there was no reason, other than going to jail all the time.”
While Kevin was watching an interview on The 700 Club, he found what he was looking for.
“And I seen the sincerity in this man,” Kevin said. “And I seen this man has a real purpose in life, real direction in life. I’ve always believed somewhere there was a God. Was it Jesus Christ? I had no idea at that time, but I took a step of faith and prayed with Ben Kinchlow and this man, Gene Neil, and I received Christ into my life. I see my life and I understand, probably for the first time, what sin was and for the first time in my life, I felt real remorse. Not remorse for getting caught, but remorse for the entire lifestyle that I’ve led.”
Kevin knew he was forgiven, but he also knew he was accountable for the crimes he committed. He wasn’t looking for a way out.
“God is a God of mercy, but he’s also a God of justice, I often tell men, and I use it as the base of many sermons,” Kevin said. “What kind of justice would it be that if we became new creations in Christ, God opened the [prison] doors? What about the victims? What about the police officers that put their lives on the lines each and every day? Where’s the sense of fairness there?”
When we left Kevin in 1989, he was prepared to live the rest of his life in prison. But today, Kevin Dodge is a free man. There was something he didn’t share with us in that first interview.
“One day, I was praying in my cell and God just spoke to me and told me two things. Number one, he was going to put a call upon my life, that I would actually be preaching and teaching in churches some day. And two, I was going to serve 25 years in Wagata prison,” Kevin said. “Everybody told me it was impossible. The classification board says it’s impossible. The warden said it was impossible. My friends said I was crazy. My fellow convicts told me I was absolutely nuts; I was never getting out of prison.”
According to court documents, Kevin wouldn’t be eligible to go before a parole board until he was 116-years-old!
“It didn’t make a difference whether he said 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 25 years,” Kevin said. “I had a sense of peace, a sense of purpose and direction in my life. And as long as I had that, I was content in life.”
So, Kevin made use of his time behind bars studying the word of God and sharing the Gospel.
“I was always assistants to the chaplains. At one institution, I actually became the interim chaplain for a year and a half, when they had no chaplain. So, I was busy doing a lot of counseling with the inmates. I did a lot of teaching, a lot of preaching, plus I went to school,” Kevin said.
While Kevin stayed busy preaching and earning three accredited degrees, his time in prison ticked away. Then, Kevin got to go in front of a parole board well before his scheduled time!
“An average lifer’s parole hearing may go 45 minutes. My first parole hearing was four hours and 23 minutes,” Kevin said. “It was a public hearing, and I had opposition from every place. They hit me with a five-year set back, and they called me at the institution and said, ‘we’ll see you again in five years. I said OK.”
Kevin faced setback after setback, appearing before the parole board numerous times. Still, he never doubted that one day he’d be a free man.
“Once God spoke to my heart, I mean it was so clear, it’s not one of those things you’re imagining, it was so clear that God was saying I was going to be released,” Kevin said.
Finally, Kevin’s release was approved and in 2005, Kevin was released from prison, fulfilling just what he believes God promised.
“God is a God of hope,” Kevin said. “He puts hope in our circumstances and our situations. I’m telling you, you can live a great Christian life inside prison, but when you walk out the doors, it’s even greater. That same grace that God affords you while you’re in prison, he’ll give you that much more grace on the outside. He’ll open doors and give you a life that you never imagined.”
Today, Kevin is an associate pastor and runs a men’s ministry in Brockton, Massachusetts, where he lives with his wife Linda.
“Because of the grace and mercy of God, I am a candidate for heaven. Jesus said he goes and he prepares a place for me. A dirty convict whose judges said he was beyond any means of rehabilitation; they said I didn’t have one redeeming feature about me, and they were right until I met the Redeemer,” Kevin said. “I want people to know there is a redeemer and his name is Jesus Christ. He’s not only ready to forgive, but he’s ready to restore and to give you a new life.”
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