“To God be the Glory!”
I just left Life Skills [training] Saturday October 14th . Thank you for teaching me the way and letting me get a taste of what life skills and life in general is about. Right now I am trying to focus on God and finding a job. Tell the class I said hey and God bless!!
Steven Olin, a Messianic Jew and SCM Volunteer:
“God’s transforming love saved my soul and restored my life! Growing up poor in Brooklyn, NY, Olin realized he had a gift for playing baseball. His dream of becoming a NY Yankee player was shattered with an arm injury playing for St. John’s University in NYC. “God has HIS own best path for us” says Olin.
Steve put his competitive sports drive into business. He graduated from college and earned his MBA. “God blessed me and quickly guided me, opening every business door. “ At age 32, Olin became a millionaire. He founded and built a $300 million consumer electronics company. At age 44, Olin was recruited to be the CEO of a multi-billion Fortune 500 company. “I had made it, and I had it all! (So I thought). BUT, since I DID NOT HAVE GOD & JESUS CHRIST IN MY LIFE — I later found out I REALLY HAD NOTHING!!!!
“Having reached the very top of the business world in fame, power, and money, out of nowhere, I started to get anxiety attacks and get depressed for no reason!!! I WENT TO A NY PSYCHIATRIST for the ANSWERS as to WHY! I was looking for the next high and to lose my mental pain. I turned to cocaine and running around with women. I lost my wonderful wife and a great relationship with my daughter, my only child. But he had no answers.
Partying too much made me lazy and sloppy. I took my eye off my businesses. I made bad investments “I am too embarrassed to tell you how many millions I lost and squandered away. At 57, and close to being homeless, Olin called out to God.
God spoke to me with this answer. “In order to save your soul my child – I had to humble you, and break you of all your pride and ego….You were so “stubborn.” It took me 10 years to take it all from you.
Totally scared and a broken man, OIin chose to make the most important decision he ever made that night. He chose to give the rest of his life to Christ and put all control in His hands. “I accepted whatever His will for me is on earth as it is in heaven.” Immediately, Olin felt peace, overwhelming love from God and relief from his psychological pain, anxiety and depression. Shortly, thereafter God restored his family, finances and most importantly HE gave Olin everlasting PEACE.
Today, Steve ministers to youth and adults in NC and SC detention centers, prisons and addiction houses. His message is that God’s grace, love and being part of God’s kingdom is more important than the worldly pleasures of fame, power and money. “God is truly great all the time” said Olin.
MARVIN SMITH (standing with Rev. Al Lewis, Executive Director of SCM)
I was raised by my mother and stepfather until the age of 10. My stepfather drank a lot and was very abusive. He used to beat us with broom sticks, drop cords, fishing rods, clothes hangers, never a normal beating. My family separated within a year, and I found myself living alone at the age of 11.
I started drinking and smoking pot. I was kicked out of school, for fighting mostly. I hung out with kids that stole and broke into people’s houses. I didn’t realize what I was becoming. I just thought I needed these people. When, I was 15 I stabbed one of my buddies for stealing from me. I went to jail for the first time. It seemed from this point on, I was in and out of jail constantly. My drugging and drinking increase, so did my troubles. Finally, at age 26, I beat a man to death. I served almost eight years in prison. I got out and started doing the same things again.
Only this time, the Union County Jail had a Life Skills Program. This program had many special volunteers who would come and share real-world life skills and spiritual things with us inmates. Now I will admit I was a tough nut to crack, but the love of Jesus Christ, was deeply rooted in that part of the jail. By having this opportunity, my spirit man was allowed to grow strong. I had plenty of time to grow, because at this time, I was facing almost 100 years in prison, and was guilty of all my charges, but one. (I had 6 other charges.)
God had touched my heart and I realized I wanted something different in my life. I experienced one miracle after another. I stood in front of a judge and received 5 years probation. On September 5th, 2001, I left the jail with everything I owned in a Food Lion bag.
Today, I am a licensed Minster of the gospel and bring the Word to several prisons here in NC, as well as sharing regularly with the Union County Jail’s Life Skills program. I was reunited with my ex-wife, and we were remarried. I run a landscaping business today, that gives me the flexibility to minister as God leads me. I have all that a man would need. My children are now proud of me, but most importantly of all, I have Jesus as the Lord of my life. I wait expectantly to see what my future holds with Him!
Diane Everett has been involved in the ministry for over 4 years. During this time, she has attended the Addiction Recovery Ministry as a way to make sense out of a devastating family tragedy. God lead her to volunteer at the Union County Jail, leading Bible studies for men and for women. Diane is also a volunteer for SCM’s quarterly SC Prison Crusades. Here are some of Diane Everett’s testimony highlights:
Diane Everett’s testimony: “…God lead me to Safer Communities Ministry at a time in my life when I was heartbroken, in pain and totally hopeless. I had been raised in the church and I never left it. I even taught Sunday School. I was saved as a teenager so I knew I would go to heaven when I die. There was even evidence of some fruit of the Spirit in my life. … But, inside there was no peace or joy in my life during this time. Inside there was total worry, fear, doubt and despair. I worried about my family. I worried about my children.
Psalm 40 says it best “40 :2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, …
The solid ground God set me on was Safer Communities Ministry. The truth I learned there through God’s word was that my heavenly Father is a God of promises, of guidance and of strength to get me through this terrible tragedy. I also found out that the Holy Spirit would give me power when I needed it to get me through those days.
Through Safer Communities Ministry, God literally transformed my life, from a life of fear and worry and doubt and despair to the abundant life Jesus died to give me. My life now has hope, peace and joy. I thank God and praise Him for what he did for me through SCM. Because I’ve found that He is able to do abundantly, exceedingly more than I could ever have asked or imagined.
Michael’s Story – Ex-Offender
“My name is Michael. I am a 29-year old man who is about 9 months old spiritually. My life has been nothing but one train wreck after the other. At 29 I was worse off than I had ever been. My actions had cost me everything that was dear to me — including two wives, four children, my home, car, job, peace of mind even my freedom.
All my adult life I’ve known something was missing, I just didn’t know what. I tried to fill the void with relationships, alcohol, money, drugs and anything else that felt good. It took hitting bottom in the Union County Jail to learn that only God could give me what I needed. On January 1, 2003 I asked the Lord into my heart.
I started by studying the Word. The biggest part of this learning experience has been Life Skills. In Life Skills I was taught about spiritual warfare, praying, repentance and generally living in a way that is pleasing to God. I’m still 29, but now life has more meaning than it ever had. I know why I’m here and how to make right decisions. God changed my life — only He could. No matter what happens from here on out I’ll never again be who I was. I have no excuse for making the same old mistakes because now I know better. I thank God and the people that make Life Skills possible.”
“My story is small — but is one of love, peace and full of hope. He has helped me through being raped by my dad, uncles, the beatings, watching my mother being raped, but praise God we lived.
I lived on the streets of New Orleans for a year because I fought back. I went to Teen Challenge in Dallas, Texas after two years on the streets, where I first found the Lord on August 16, 1984. I had loving people care for me, something I had never had before. They told me of Jesus who could help. Oh! I could feel His love in my life, real love and I did nothing but have a little faith.
I married a pretty lady and had 3 great children. After 10 years of a family, she divorced me for another man. Three years ago, he and she were killed on an ice-covered road in Virginia. My older brother died of AIDS in 1992 while I was in the Army in Iraq. My sister died of an overdose in 1998. How do you get through all this? Only with Jesus Christ and godly people who He places in your path.”
“I have tried to take my life over ten times. Bottles of pills that should have killed me – didn’t. The Lord must have a plan for me because He saved me. I believe He wants me to share of his love, grace, peace and hope to others like myself who feel helpless. Thankfully, the Lord has kept me from drugs (even though some might have given in to them), but I have always felt that there is something out there better to get me through this life. Christ is the only way!”
“Hello my name is James. I have been in treatment centers, detox, inpatient, outpatient, and met with counselors — nothing helped. Then I came to jail and enrolled in Life Skills. Life Skills has transformed my life. Not just changed it. Change lasts only a short time. But to be transformed and renewed, as I have, lasts forever. Life Skills planted a seed within me. Rev. Lewis, Chaplain Merritt, and Brother Russ watered that seed and all of the dedicated volunteers and God gave the increase. By His boundless grace and great mercy I’m finally free on the inside, yes, Jesus is real!”
“My name is Dave and I am 52 years old. Born in Buffalo, NY, I’ve been married and divorced three times and have three children. Basically, I spent 40 years of my life doing what I thought was right coupled with whatever I felt like doing. I had no church guidance or training and little parental guidance. My life looked fairly good on the outside — housewife, kids, good job, etc. But, my life was full of sin, lies, alcohol, lust, misery and a constant emptiness.”
I committed a very violent inexcusable crime and proceeded to run from this crime and the law. After a long 8 day insane escape, I found myself on my knees in Pensacola, Florida. I prayed to God for help. In my heart I heard Him say He would send His son!
On May 1, I surrendered to the Union County Jail (UCJ) and, on May 5, I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I participated in the Life Skills program at the UCJ because I wanted to attend AA meetings. But I never expected the program to have such a profound impact. Pastor Al, Dom Duarte, Russ, Terry and countless others ministered God’s words in my life, brining hope, encouragement, healing and forgiveness.
My life today is richly blessed. The Lord has restored every department of my life. I’m blessed honored to continue to work in the Life Skills Program, as well as with Safer Communities Ministry (formerly Covenant Prison Ministries), The Recovery Church of Monroe, Restoration House Ministries, AA, my home church and with individuals as a sponsor and mentor. My children and first 2 wives have become close friends and valued support to me. Praise the Lord, all is well in Him!”
New Life Event Testimony – New Volunteer
Safer Communities Ministry (First Time Volunteer) shares his New Life Event experience after ministering in a youth facility in the South Carolina Youth Evaluation Center.