Serving God While Incarcerated
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The Testimonies of 3 Current Christian Prisoners
Dewayne Edward Harris Sr.
Terrance Brandon Burnett,
& Danny Dashay Holmes Sr.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek… and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1).
Have you ever taken a moment to notice how most pastors and/or ministers don’t preach sermons on the subject of serving God while you are incarcerated? But why not? In the United States there are over 1 million men, women, and/or juveniles that are currently incarcerated! I personally believe the reason we don’t hear many sermons/ teachings on this subject is because most people can’t relate or personally tell a testimony about serving God while incarcerated.
Who We Were, and Who We Are!
“Serving the Lord with all humility of mind…” (Acts 20:19).
My name is Terrance Burnett. I was a liar, cheater, drug seller, drug user, and petty thief. But now I am born again and walking in the favor of God. I am daily trusting and acknowledging Him to bring me closer because He told me that I am a son of God—chosen to go and bear fruit.
Big Wack is the name I once lived by, but I was born Dewayne Harris to the streets of Los Angeles, California. In my past I lived a life of murder, robbery, drug trafficking, and kidnapping. But now I am here to tell you that I am a brand new man since I gave my life to Christ. I am not the man I use to be, and God gets all the credit.
My government name is Danny, but everybody calls me DB for short. I am currently serving a life sentence in the state of Tennessee for first degree murder. I am from the north side of the city of Milwaukee where I gang-banged, shot-dice, and robbed drug dealers. But now I am a 6-foot tall tattooed, muscular man that trusts God, loves Jesus, and follows the Holy Spirit every day while I am incarcerated.
The Love of God Will Change You While You Are Incarcerated!
“Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me” (Psalm 142:7).
I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life to hurt my family and friends. Yet, if you would’ve told me that after graduating high school and joining the United States Navy I would be in prison, I would’ve laughed in your face. In 1999, I pled guilty to murder and received a life sentence.
God freed me from the guilt and shame that I carried. Once I confessed my sins, He was faithful and just to forgive me, and cleanse me of all unrighteousness. Therefore, I have peace with God and have been justified by Christ.
I have learned that God will meet you wherever you are, whenever you call on Him. I was on my face in a county jail cell crying and begging Him to change me. And to my surprise, He heard and answered my cries. I am your witness that you can be broken, and God will fix you. You can be lost, and His love will find you. And you can feel like you are unpardonable, and His grace and mercy will forgive you.
They said that I wouldn’t live to see the age of 18 years old, but they were wrong. By the grace of God I am still alive today. Now I am a true man, husband, father, brother, friend, and Christian.
How We Serve God While We Are Incarcerated!
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Jesus, Luke 9:23).
My daily worship consists of waking up and thanking God every morning around 5:15am. Then I make my way to my usual table to pray and read my Bible. I love reading chapters out of the books of Proverbs and Psalms as I sip a fresh cup of coffee. Finally, around 6:00 pm each evening we have a prayer circle in our pod, where some of the men get together and uplift our daily praises and prayer requests.
Before I get out of the bed, I thank God. I read from four different devotionals and upon completion of them I pray 1 Chronicles 29:10-13, letting all of it marinate in my spirit.
Every day I try to seek and follow the direction of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes that is difficult for me, being the “hard-headed” son of God I am, because honestly God often tells me to do things that I just don’t want to do. But, similar to the son in the Parable of the Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32), I soon after repent and obey the guiding of the Spirit. For example, the Spirit might tell me to deny my flesh by fasting. I naturally don’t want to fast, but I obey because my trust in the Lord overrides my feelings and excuses.
Admitting the Challenges and That Faith is Not Always Fun!
“Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).
Serving God while you are incarcerated is going to sometimes seem unbearable and challenging. Some days you will be tempted by drugs, lust, and other influences. And other times you will be tempted to simply just give up and go back to your past lifestyle. And honestly, you may be going through a challenging season at this very moment. But please allow us to encourage you to not give up and to please keep trusting Jesus. We know that the Lord uses challenging circumstances to refine and define our character in Him.
For me, serving the Lord isn’t as easy as people believe. It’s been challenging for me because I gave up a lifestyle that most men would dream of living. Now I must trust God to handle all my practical and financial needs like paying for my lawyer and providing for my family.
Being incarcerated has been challenging for me because I can’t physically be there for my family, and they have to come to a prison just to see me. Plus, the fact that I hurt someone’s family and the possibility that they could hurt mine is a difficult reality. There is also the remorse that makes life challenging, because a part of me wonders if my victim would’ve lived a wonderful life if not for the crime.
There Are Benefits To Being Blessed!
“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in. Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” (Matthew 25:35-36).
The Lord is a true blessing for a man like me. To have someone who knows you 100% and forgives all your mistakes and makes you whole again - wow!
The benefit of serving God while I am incarcerated is the fact that God healed my body and spirit. He financed my life with his spiritual riches. He saved my soul from hell.
The peace, joy, and love that I now experience in Christ are my benefits. Now I can truly love and be loved, because all the hate I had in my heart has been removed. Yes, it is true that I am currently incarcerated, but by the peace of God I live free every day.
Heavenly Father, I have lived a long life without trusting you in any of my decision-making skills, and I must say that I have made a big ole mess of it. No one trusts me and it feels like no one loves me. But I remember being in church and the pastor said, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall be saved.” I believe God and I want to be saved. Thank you for loving me and I pray that you change my life for the good. Amen.