Preach It Criminal! Preach It!

I heard a sermon last night, while in jail (I wasn’t locked up! I was with our Breakout Jail Ministry!), preached by the one and only Troy Walker. That name may not ring a bell with most of y’all. He doesn’t have a tv show or host a radio program. He hasn’t written any books. He pastors a small, Methodist church in Gadsden Alabama. Troy Walker. A 40ish year old black man, pastoring an old Methodist church, full of older white people. That’s not a combination you hear every day, but that’s not what’s so cool about Troy’s story.

You see, Troy spent seven years of his life in prison. From what I’ve been told he’s been out around five years so that would put him at approximately 29 years old when he went to prison. That means there’s no telling how much stuff he’d done before he went, or how many times he’d been in the county. I heard he was a pretty bad person.

I don’t know his whole story, and I don’t know what he did to get sent to prison. I heard that one time a newspaper, from the town where his church is, was wanting to do a story on him. When the reporter asked him what sent him to prison, his answer was simply “sin”.

God took a man from the depths of despair. A man who’s life was filled with drugs, alcohol, crime and who knows what else, and turned him into a preacher! Wait. Maybe it’s the other way around! As Troy once put it, “God created me to be a preacher, and I turned myself into a junkie.”

On the outside, you’d never know that Troy had been a junkie and a criminal. Just by seeing, or speaking with him, you’d never guess he’d been to prison. He could live the rest of his life never telling another soul about his past, and people would simply think he had it all together. He said something in his sermon though that stuck with me. He said, “I can’t preach the word of God without preaching my life, because they’re not disconnected.” How will people know about God’s amazing, redeeming grace if we can’t tell them how He helped us fix our mistakes?!

Often times, life’s circumstances have a way of helping us be something God never intended. For what purpose did God create you? Rest assured He had one in mind before you were even born! Even if things may have gotten way of track for you. Even if you’re in the depths of sin and despair. Even if your life is riddled with guilt and shame because of bad choices, or from things that were no fault of your own. Whatever your situation, no matter how bad of a person you think you’ve been, God wants to have a relationship with you. He wants to use you in His kingdom. He sees you through the eyes of love. He wants to restore you. He can make you pure! He can heal you and make you whole! And just like Troy Walker received a full pardon from the state, for all the crimes he’d committed, God can pardon all your sins! All you have to do is ask. Once you ask, He’ll take those very things that sent you to prison (literally or figuratively) and use them for His glory. He’ll connect everything perfectly like only God can do!

Troy Walker is living proof that God can, and will change a person! Shoot! I’m proof that God can change a person! One does not have to go to prison to be considered bad. I reckon we’re all bad, but the truth is, God created us to be good, and for a purpose. We’re all precious to him! Even if you say that you don’t believe in Him, or maybe you do believe in Him but don’t trust Him. That’s neither here nor there. The fact is, you’re still connected! You were created to love, and worship The Lord!

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