Jesse did not think he was much of a speaker. He stuttered a lot since he was a child, especially when he was nervous. This was something he was conscious of and felt embarrassed about. But he could not say opportunity. Some time ago, he was invited to share something positive with inmates at the prison where he once served a twelve-year sentence.
Jesse whispered a silent prayer asking God for his help as he alighted from his vehicle. He became very emotional as he entered the prison gate. After security checks, he was escorted to a room with prison guards and inmates. He greeted the guards and chatted briefly with some of his former inmates.
The moment came, it was Jesse’s turn to speak. He began his presentation nervously; afraid to make eye contact, head down as he read from his notes. He told of a conversation he had five years ago with an elderly lady. This woman was a regular visitor to the prison, but he only agreed to speak with her a few days before he was released. He recounted that at first, he told her he was not into the religious mumbo-jumbo stuff. However, what she shared with him gave him more than a glimmer of hope, even though at that time he acted as though her words had no effect on him.
As Jesse continued he became more relaxed and confident. He took his eyes from his notes, lifted his head, looked to his attentive audience, and spoke from his heart.
This is what Jesse said:
“I want to say to you the same thing this elderly woman said to me. My friends, do not live in two prisons. In other words, you are already in a physical prison, but you do not have to live also in a mental prison. A mental prison where you allow your past mistakes to keep you bound. Perhaps not all of you are in a mental prison. But to the ones who are, I want to encourage you to step out of that mental prison. Today, if you have limited yourself, I challenge and encourage you to set a goal and be the best you can be.
Friends, make use of the resources available to improve your lives. Step out of that mental prison; go and finish that high school diploma, go ahead and get the degree, go and polish your talents and abilities, write that poem, or song, play that instrument, sing, and dance. Each one of you has a God-given talent. Use it and learn something new. Go write that person to who you need to apologize – the one you hurt. Do not be afraid of rejection. Go ahead and feel remorse, it does not make you a weak person. Go on, reach out to your son or your daughter. Go on and forgive your father, your mother, that person who hurt you, yes, the one who abandoned you, the one you took the fall for, who has never visited you. Those who lied to you, yes, the ones who abused you. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Go ahead love yourself. Stop feeling guilty about loving yourself. Stop punishing yourself. Take care of yourself, pay attention to your health, and ask to see the prison doctor. In spite of what you have done. You have a purpose. You have potential. You can still make a positive contribution right here; starting in the lives of each other.
Friends, I use to think very little of myself. I thought I would never be able to speak in front of an audience. I thought I would never be able to move past the fact that I committed a crime but here I am! I came out of that mental prison and invite you to join me! Yes, I have really struggled, but I found a friend in our Lord Jesus Christ. This same Jesus who said “I do not condemn you, go and sin no more” to the woman caught in adultery and brought to Jesus by her accusers. They wanted him to pronounce judgment upon her, but Jesus showed her mercy. The same Jesus is saying to you that He does not condemn you even if the accusations made against you are true. Jesus offers you forgiveness because He died for your sins and mine. He offers you the gift of salvation (deliverance) so that sin and sinful desires will no longer dominate you.
My Friends, you can experience mental and spiritual freedom, especially when confined in a physical prison.”
Jesse ended by saying, “Friends, I encourage you to reach out to Jesus. He is reaching out to you… Jesus loves you and cares about you.”
All good gifts come from the Lord. Tesse Wilson is happy to be gifted by the Lord to write. It is her prayer that her writings will bless, encourage and inspire others. Thank God for His Spirit who gives inspiration and his grace which enables her