My parents took me to churches in Ohio and West Virginia when I was three years old. I would sing worship songs and listen to the ministers preach about Jesus. This stopped when I was six because my folks stopped going to church. I became overweight, had low self-esteem, and in my teenage years, I turned to drugs, alcohol, and sex.
I was out of control.
I would drink until my pain manifested in the form of rage and I would fight whoever looked at me the wrong way. Plenty of people tried to talk sense into me, including several good women who had the misfortune of marrying me, hoping that they could change me. But I was too broken and too lost. I ended up moving to the West Coast, hoping that a change of address would make a difference, but I brought all my baggage with me.
In 2003, I was convicted of several crimes and sent to prison. I continued to fight and look to alcohol to ease my internal pain. I quickly lost any chance of early release for good behavior. In prison, I met a young man named Walter, who tried to befriend me. He tried to preach the gospel to me but it did not sound like any gospel I had ever heard. I called him a liar and threatened to give him a beating if he did not stop talking to me.
One day, I asked him why he would not stop preaching to me and he said that God came to him in a dream and told him that he was to keep preaching to me no matter what. Walter had been in prison since sixteen and he was now thirty-four. He had no family. He was alone in the world and had prayed every night for God to send him a brother and I was it. He then told me about this amazing preacher named Joseph Prince who had taught him all about the forgiveness, grace, and unconditional love of Jesus Christ. Since we were in prison and television channels were limited, the only time he could watch Joseph Prince was at 3am.
So for the last couple weeks of my incarceration, we watched Pastor Prince’s broadcast at 3am. I was amazed. I had never heard this gospel. I had only heard of the impending punishment and doom for my sins. However, the transformation did not happen overnight. I had to hear it every day, over and over. I tried to read the Bible to prove that this teaching was wrong but all I found were scriptures that proved it right. I had a “WOW” moment in prison.
Jesus and His message became real and the message took root in me.
Soon, I was released from prison. I got busy and put Jesus on the back burner. One day, when I was walking down the street in Portland Oregon, I had a heart attack. Strangers gave me CPR until the paramedics arrived and I was taken to the Veterans’ Hospital. There, they did heart surgery on me and installed a pacemaker but that didn’t work. The heart surgeon told me they had done all they could and that I needed to get my affairs in order.
I was all alone, broken, and told I would die soon. But on the ninth floor of the Veterans’ Hospital in Portland Oregon, Jesus became my Savior. He became my physician, my healer, and everything that I have heard that He is. He became the true I AM, not just an invisible being that I prayed to when I was in trouble. I was at peace with dying and I said, “Jesus, forgive me for taking the life You gave me and wasting it. The doctors said I have about six months left but I know Your Word says that You alone hold me in Your hands. You say when my time is up, not the doctors. So if You can find any use for me, I lay myself down at Your feet. Use me in any way You see fit. Whatever time I have left is Yours.”
That night, I went to sleep with peace in my heart. The next day, the heart surgeon came in and said they had changed their minds and wanted to do another surgery. They installed new wires from the pacemaker to my heart, using a different procedure. This time, it was a success and I was released ten days later.
A few months later, I started a non-profit organization that provides a safe place of recovery for men and women coming out of jails, prisons, and addictions. I use these houses as an opportunity to teach others about the unconditional love and grace of Jesus Christ.
These houses give me the chance to be the hands and feet of Christ to what I see as the modern-day “lepers”—the people that society shuns, but the very people Jesus healed.
I still watch Pastor Prince’s broadcast on Trinity Broadcasting Network at 7:30 am and then go out into our television room and watch it again with the guys at 8am on Daystar.
Pastor Prince, I am so grateful to your ministry for preaching the grace message, which was the original message that the apostle Paul preached. My friend, Walter, who introduced me to your ministry, will be out of prison soon and I am blessed to be able to have a home for him to come to, filled with brothers and sisters in Christ. On the shelf in the TV room, he will be so happy to see the growing library of Joseph Prince Ministries’ audio CDs and DVDs that he can watch and he will not have to stay up until 3am to do it.
Thank you and I pray that God continues to bless your ministry.
George Slack | Oregon, United States