Last week, I met Patrick Jackson. Even though I’d met him in the past through a friendly introduction and polite handshake, I actually met him last week. In fact, the whole church got to know Mr. Jackson more intimately than we expected.
With his permission, I’m sharing his testimony.
This is his story, paraphrased in my words.
I hope Patrick’s testimony will move and inspire you, as it did me and the rest of our church congregation.
My name is Patrick Jackson …
I was 25-years-old and suffering a “quarter-of-a-century life crisis” when my world shifted forever.
I’d been an alcoholic for five years and was addicted to prescription medications for over ten. I’d become desensitized to pornography since discovering it at ten-years-old and had, in every sense of the word, become my own all-powerful and self-serving God.
One night, drunk off a gallon of vodka and indifferent to the rules of society, I opened my computer and committed several crimes; two felonies and three misdemeanors. I was void of concerns over consequences and, thanks to my ability to get lost in my addictions, I held no fear of future regret.
Within hours, my house was surrounded by a dozen or more highly trained tactical agents from the F.B.I.
Before I realized what was happening, they had invaded my home and eradicated my family.
At exactly 4:17 a.m., I was in federal custody and branded a captured fugitive in the “Kern’s Most Wanted” database.
Along with dozens of others, I waited to be processed into the system of depraved criminals, or as they joked on the inside, the “chamber full of innocents”.
Thanks to my addictive and self-gratifying behavior, I’d lost all purpose in my life. My heart and soul had become dark. I was a broken person and desperately in need of repair.
My spirit burned, but for all the wrong reasons.
I would remain in that downtown holding cell for twenty-nine days, never showering or changing clothes.
As the hours turned into days, emotions surfaced which had long been buried and I didn’t know how to control them.
I yelled, cried, laughed, felt happy, then sad. I’d have bouts of panic, then moments of indifference. You name it, I experienced it to the extreme.
Desperate for something on which to focus my mind, I begged the jail guard for a book. Something to read. Anything!
Finally, he tired of my unremitting pleas and threw a small Bible at me with the force of a major league pitcher.
“Here,” he barked, “read this, mother effer.”
The book smacked me, full force, in the center of my chest.
Realizing what it was, I was not particularly thrilled. The text wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I beseeched for reading material but as they say, beggars can’t be choosers, so I decided it was better than nothing.
As I waited in that cold cell, reading the words of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, then Acts and Romans, I began to die in more ways than one.
I felt the old, hateful spirit inside of me melting away as much as I experienced my physical body diminishing due to lack of freedom, human interaction, and sunlight.
Extradition came on day twenty-nine.
Desperate to get out of that cell … and those clothes, I felt nothing but relief. I was ready to pay the piper and face the consequences of my actions.
But, that was not yet to be.
What should have been a one-day trip became a second death, mentally and emotionally. The van crisscrossed through several states, picking up new prisoners along the way and taking seven days to reach our intended destination.
On the disastrous adventure, where I was shackled by my ankles and waste to other prisoners, we crashed three times before retrieving our final prisoner, a female who would later accuse every man in the van of brutally raping her during our trek across the miles.
That’s when I learned that, while I was prepared for the consequences of my own actions, I’d never considered that I would also have to fight for my life over something I’d never done and had no control over.
Due to a battery of interrogations, cavity searches, DNA tests and the like, the crime for which I was originally accused was put on the back burner, delayed for weeks.
Looking back now I realize that, had God allowed me to leave that first holding cell any sooner than twenty-nine days, I wouldn’t have had the time I needed to fully die to myself.
I also know that, if the van had driven directly to Colorado and dropped me straight into my extradition case, I would have missed some life-changing lessons.
Because of the time it took, and the unexpected accusations I faced, I had no choice but to fully give my heart and soul to God. I couldn’t save myself. I needed a higher power. In retrospect, I know that God had been waiting patiently for me to figure that out.
When I was imprisoned in Colorado, I met a man named Adam. He had been falsely accused of a crime and his charges were later dropped; however, he told me from the moment that we met that he knew God had allowed this to happen so Adam could glorify the Creator through his own suffering. Adam spent countless hours reading the Bible aloud in Hebrew and then translating it to me so I’d understand.
Because of him, I came to know who Jesus Christ truly was … and who I was through Jesus Christ.
I’m now a devoted and faithful follower of Jesus. I know God was in that holding cell with me. He was also riding along beside me in the prison van and walking next to me as I was taken to my prison chamber in Colorado. God put Adam there with me, knowing that I couldn’t understand what I was reading without the help of a faithful follower.
With God’s grace, I was released on May 10 and given a second chance from a merciful judge. I returned to the outside world as a renewed man and I vowed not to waste a minute of the time I’d been given. From that point on, I’ve hungered to get the message of salvation through Jesus to anybody who might listen, in hopes that another lost soul might be found, as I was through a series of God-driven events.
I’ll always be thankful to Gideons International for placing that Bible in the jail where I was held for twenty-nine days. Little did they know that it would be hurled at the chest of a desperate and broken prisoner by a frustrated jail guard, and would set me on a journey to a new, eternal life!
God continues to show Himself to me daily, through my health, my first girlfriend after prison, and my desire to share His glory with others.
I want the world to know that, no matter how lost we are, how dark our souls have become, or how low we’ve sank, God is with us. He waits for us … for that perfect moment when our hearts will be softened and our spirits become desperate enough to hear His constantly calling voice.
If you think you’re suffering alone. Think again. I’m living proof that even the most broken man can be redeemed.