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Search for Acceptance Leads to All the Wrong Places

Jamie's mother sent him to Puerto Rico to keep him out of gang life, unknowingly delivering him into the hands of his drug dealing father. After years of drug trade, Jamie was sent to prison, and then found what he really wanted. Read Transcript


JAMIE TORRES: I felt like I didn't fit in.

The kids would started laughing at me.

And the more they laughed, the more I got angrier.

REPORTER: As a mixed race child, Jamie Torres was often

the target of ridicule.

His mother was white and unmarried.

His father was a Puerto Rican whom he never met.

JAMIE TORRES: My father deceived my mom.

He already had a family.

And it just crushed my mom, and we ended up in the South Bronx.

REPORTER: His troubles increased when his mom

married and had other children.

JAMIE TORRES: There was a difference between them

being white and me dark skin.

I started hanging out with people who accepted me,

but those people, they were affiliated with gangs.

And I loved them because they were just like me.

I felt like, man, this is really what I've been looking for.

I fit in.

They asked me to do whatever.

And because I longed for their approval,

I did whatever it took to earn their love.

REPORTER: Jamie's zeal often got him into trouble.

So when he was 14, his mom sent him to Puerto Rico

to meet his real dad.

JAMIE TORRES: For the first time, I feel like, wow.

I felt like I had an identity.

[INAUDIBLE] Come to find out my dad

was a drug dealer in Puerto Rico.

And the next thing I know, I started working with my dad

and became addicted to smoking weed, and then the cocaine.

And then you look to subside that pain and that rejection.

Because I felt-- even though I was in Puerto Rico with my real

dad--

I still felt rejected from him.

I just didn't fit in.

And the only time I felt a little bit good

was when I was high.

REPORTER: Jamie eventually moved back to the States.

He kicked his drug habit but stayed in the drug trade.

JAMIE TORRES: I got hooked up with some Cubans

and Colombians.

I was getting kilos from Colombia

and I got involved with a crew that was real strong.

Money was my god.

The more money and drugs I had, the more people

acknowledged me.

You're my man, and I loved that.

I had to go get that money by all means necessary.

I didn't care what it took.

REPORTER: Throughout his 20s, Jamie's drug business

grew, which put him on the FBI's radar.

JAMIE TORRES: So they built a case and then they arrested me.

They were trying to give me a life sentence.

I was scared, to be honest with you.

I was scared like a little kid.

And I knew that I was going to spend the rest of my life

in prison and die there.

REPORTER: While awaiting his trial, Jamie met Gene Lawson.

For a man in prison, he was unusually happy.

JAMIE TORRES: But here I am, I can't sleep at night.

I'm worried sick.

I'm afraid.

And here this man has been sentenced to 25 years

and he's walking like he don't have a care in the world.

And deep down, I didn't tell him, but I wanted what he had.

He had a peace, and I longed for that.

REPORTER: Over the next few weeks,

Gene talked about the peace that comes from faith in Jesus

no matter where you are.

But Jamie resisted, afraid it would make him appear weak,

until one Sunday he found himself

outside the prison chapel.

JAMIE TORRES: And I went in there.

I sat all the way in the back, because I'm still conscious.

I don't want my homeboys to see me.

And the next thing I know this man started speaking.

It seemed like everything he was saying was directly at me.

It was something that I was living.

It was piercing my heart.

It was like he was in my thoughts.

It was like this man was in my heart.

I felt this great urge to cry.

I ran out that chapel and I ran hard to my cell,

and I started crying.

I cried hard.

I never cry-- it was a different kind of cry.

And I said, God, if you're real, give me what Gene has.

I want it, what Gene has.

And then I went to sleep.

REPORTER: A couple hours later, Jamie woke up

and went looking for Gene.

He found him in the cafeteria and told Gene

about his encounter with God.

JAMIE TORRES: And he asked me a question.

He said, do you want to feel this peace forever?

And I said yes, sir.

And he opened that little black book

and he went to Romans, chapter 10.

And he shared with me the gospel, the plan.

We got along [INAUDIBLE].

And I did the sinner's prayer.

I repented all my sins.

And I received the Lord in my heart.

I felt a weight come off me.

You would think that in prison it's

meant for you to lose your freedom,

but actually, I found my freedom in prison.

And then my journey started with Jesus.

REPORTER: Jamie lost his case and was sentenced to 25 years.

But having found peace and acceptance through Christ,

prison didn't scare him anymore.

He used the time inside to share Christ with others.

JAMIE TORRES: "The 700 Club" would come in the morning

and boy I would get inspired.

And that's what God used to start my first Bible

study in jail.

God used me as a missionary in prison.

And everywhere I went, I started a Bible study.

REPORTER: Later, a nonprofit picked up his case

and fought for a mistrial.

They won.

And after serving only 10 years, Jamie was set free.

JAMIE TORRES: Today, by the grace of God,

I go all around the country and tell

people of a great God who's able to redeem, save, change.

I don't care what your past look like.

It can be the worst of worst.

And he loves you unconditionally,

and he has a future for you.

Please just trust him.

Just cry out to him.

He loves you with everything in him.

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