They live behind cement walls, chain link fences and barbed wire but they’re freer than most men ever dream of being. Places where gang rape and stabbings occurred for decades are now filled with an army of men walking in forgiveness and reconciliation. The worst have been completely reformed. Now they sing to God, pray for their world and bring others into freedom. How did it happen? Who would ever dream it was possible? Charlie and Paul did. They had the courage and faith to believe for the impossible with the God of impossibilities, and the results are nothing short of miraculous.
Charlie, a middle-aged man long reformed from twenty five years of drug dealing and crime, is a local business owner, ordained minister and radical follower of Jesus. A few years ago he went to a church service where a Bethel team was ministering. A team member felt they had a message from God for Charlie. They believed God was leading him to start a prison ministry. Charlie nearly started laughing. He thought, there is no way that would ever be possible! Prison was a place where he had suffered torture and injustice. Was God now going to use him to bring justice and life to prisons? It didn’t seem possible.
At the same time, Paul, a local prisoner, wrote a letter to Banning Liebscher, director of Jesus Culture, a Christian youth music movement. Paul asked Banning for advice on how to find a spiritual father. Banning and other leaders connected the dots and suggested Paul contact Charlie.
When the two men met something sparked. Talking only through wire and plexiglass at the prison, Charlie began to meet with Paul faithfully every two weeks for over a year. During that time Charlie was running an evening school of supernatural ministry at his house. As Charlie shared with Paul how people’s lives were being changed through the school, the two began to dream about what it would be like to run a school of supernatural ministry inside the prison.
Then one day the dream became reality. After meeting with Paul, Charlie was headed to his car when he noticed the prison warden standing next to his truck talking on his cell phone. As Charlie approached the warden got off his phone and said, “How’s it going, Charlie? What can I do for you?” Immediately Charlie began to tell him about their dream of running a school in the prison. After a few minutes of discussion the warden said, “I love it. Let’s make it happen.” And the Leadership School of Transformation (LST) was born!
With an overflow of support from the warden and Bethel Church, Charlie and Paul brought the truth of God’s life-changing extravagant love and unlimited power into the lives of dangerous prisoners. Revival broke out in this maximum security prison! Sixty-five men are now involved in the LST on a daily basis! The same gymnasium where gang rapes and stabbings once happened is now the LST classroom. The entire atmosphere of the prison has changed from fear and death to life, hope and peace. The prisoners and staff all recognize it.
Since starting the school many of the worst of the worst have been completely transformed. Prisoner after prisoner is being rapidly and authentically transformed by the power and love of God. The head of the satanic church in the prison, who regularly cursed the Church, has been completely transformed by the love and power of Jesus. The prison hitman for a violent and revered black gang now serves and loves others. A member of a black prison gang who had spent twenty-three hours a day in solitary confinement for over thirteen years is so transformed he now walks from cell to cell helping those trapped in hopelessness. After several months of participating in the LST, one of the prisoners received a letter saying his more than five-hundred-year prison term was reversed and
instead he was released on parole! These prisoners are not only seeing their personal lives changed, but they are praying
for and seeing measurable change in their families, communities and the world.
What is happening in this maximum security prison is so significant it is sending ripples throughout the whole prison system. Prison officials across the state began to hear the stories of redemption occurring in the most broken of lives. The head prison warden for the state flew out to witness the LST firsthand. Because of what he saw, plans are being set in place to bring this change across the whole state prison system. Following are three letters from men in the LST who now walk free:
First let me thank you for making this school possible. I am a few months away from completing the first year and I never imagined having a relationship with God like I do now. Pursuing my identity in Christ has been such a revelation about the love of God for me. Thank you again.
I came to prison 20 years ago with five concurrent 99-year sentences. I was strung out on every drug there is and I was stealing to support my habit. I was full of rage, anger and hate, especially at God. I was raised in a good Christian home, saved and filled with the Holy Spirit at a young age, but I rebelled. I was completely self-destructive and I began to put myself in all the most dangerous positions. I joined a prison gang and was sent to the most violent prison in the state. For years I put myself at the front of many gang wars and other violence until July 2000 when I was sent to solitary confinement and supermax security. I spent 13 years in solitary confinement and committed over 30 assaults on security officers. For this behavior, as well as other things, I received five more years on top of my five 99 year sentences. Hate and rage grew. I believed I would never get out of prison. In 2010 God started showing up. Several miracles happened around me and people would just walk by and say, “God loves you.” While still in solitary confinement, I gave my heart to Him again. Immediately anger, rage and bitterness were released from my heart. Still believing I would never get out of prison, two years later I received a letter from the parole board saying I made my parole on the five 99-year sentences and I could start the five-year sentence on June 2012. He is definitely the God of the impossible. First changing me, and then setting me free while in prison, and then making it possible for me to be released from prison.
Thank you Bethel Church for investing in a group of men in a Texas state maximum security prison. I know we all deeply regret the paths we’ve taken and are heartbroken for the victims of our crimes. Thank you for believing in us. Thank you for changing our destiny as well as the future of our families.
I thank God for the Leadership School of Transformation. The class gives me the boldness to speak out in Jesus’ name to witness and to encourage others. Recently I went to the infirmary. While sitting on a bench waiting my turn to be seen by the nurse, another prisoner was sitting beside me with blood and urine on the front of his pants. He was struggling to pass kidney stones and was in extreme pain. God put it on my heart to pray for him, and I did so, silently. However, that wasn’t what God wanted. So, I sat down and struck up a conversation, as much as you can with a man in severe pain and curled up on the bench. I asked him if he believed in God. He said yes, so I asked if he would mind if I prayed for him. He immediately said please do so. So I did. I felt his body relaxing. When I was done with my simple prayer for healing there was no more pain. I looked up and the man was smiling, no longer hurting. Now the doctor shows up to take him to an exam room, pain free. As I looked around the waiting area of this prison clinic, every man was looking at me like I was from another planet. One prisoner ask what just happened. I explained that the power of Jesus had not just taken away his pain, but healed him because of HIS great love for HIS children. That day in the infirmary of a maximum-security prison several men accepted Christ as their Savior and several more men were healed.
It was an awesome day made possible by God’s love for me and the Leadership School Transformation equipping me with the knowledge and encouraging me to go out before strangers and speak God’s word. I would not have even consider doing something like this before I began to go to school.
My name is Johnny. I am in a prison one hundred miles away from my brother who is in another prison. We are both in prison for committing a double murder in gang wars. I have been in many gang wars in prison and stabbed many people in prison. I was a practicing satanist until last December. At that time I received a two week visit to my brother’s prison, where he is a leader in the in the Leadership School of Transformation. I accepted Christ during that visit and my life is forever changed. I was mailed a book, Supernatural Ways of Royalty, which I did not receive. So she mailed me a second copy. Both copies arrived at the same time. They also changed my living location in the prison at the same time, so in my new faith I tried to find someone to study this book with. The guy I tried to get, call him George, seemed rude and distant from me and said he wasn’t interested. But he watched me a lot and I thought he was strange. After weeks, he changed his mind and agreed so we studied the book together and became friends. During our friendship he shared that his brother had been murdered and he had taken a vow to avenge his brother’s death. The problem was that now George had accepted Christ, and that created an inner conflict. Our relationship grew for six months, then George was paroled. He left a message for me with another inmate. George said I was the one that killed his brother. I was the one he had vowed to kill. During our friendship he was struggling with what to do with his vow. But over the course of our friendship he saw how much I had changed, and he could see my hunger. He felt my shame and repentance for what I had done. He saw my heart and he forgave me, then wrote his family to withdraw the hit put out on my life and forgive me. I could not believe this. I had received forgiveness from the ones I have violated. I began to understand God has forgiven me as well and I needed to forgive myself. I have never seen George again. Maybe I will someday. God’s love and forgiveness is awesome and can’t be compared to anything else. I pray everyone understands how far it reaches and how much it covers.