My name is Richard B. I am 62 years old and I am an “Ex-con” who was just released from prison on June 21, 2017, where I have spent the last 9 years of my life.
During that time, I lost EVERYTHING I had ever worked for, or meant anything to me, in my life. My cars, possessions, home, family, friends, money, and most important to me, my reputation. I did, however, gain something much more valuable, MY SALVATION, along with the promise of a better life ahead of me. I had no idea though, how that was ever going to be possible. You hear a lot of things about what happens to people like me, once you return to society. None of them good. I had NO IDEA what to expect once I got out: where would I live? how would I get even the most basic of needs met? Like food, clothing and transportation? Plus, I have many medical issues, then to top it all off, I was diagnosed with a malignant tumor one week before exiting prison. I had a lot on my plate.
All these problems can be absolutely overwhelming to an individual about to attempt to re-integrate back into society, producing both fear and anxiety if no one cares enough to step in and lend a hand. I did not see much light at the end of the tunnel at first, so I did the one thing I had learned to be best while in prison, PRAY, pray to my Lord and trust that He had it all under control. As soon as I had done this, things began to happen in a rapid-fire succession with a fluidity that only God himself could master. A Christian doctor had referred me to a University hospital where surgery was scheduled.
Then, that is when Living Water stepped in. First, they informed me I had been accepted and that I would be staying at one of their residences. I had no idea what to expect; what happened next was nothing short of a miracle to me. I discovered that every possible contingency had been thought of ahead of time, every physical need was taken care of in advance, but far more importantly, my spiritual needs were thought of as well. Pastor Jim Bright and his wife, Linda, treated me with such tender, loving, kindness that I did not know how to act at first. I was completely and utterly blown away not only by the kindness and generosity that was bestowed upon me, but by the detail and complexity with which the whole program operates under.
I cannot tell you how much this has affected me. This experience certainly has touched my heart. Suffice it to say, it has brought tears to my eyes on many occasions, for I know I have truly been blessed by God. I am a witness to an outpouring of Love from a group of human beings, to their fellow man. I see God in action. I can scarcely find the words to express just how wonderful God has been to me. I can never deserve what He has done for me. He gave the ultimate gift, his Son. All I have to give in return is Praise, Honor and Glory. To Living Water, and all those who support it, my thanks and my promise is to always pay it forward.
TWO YEARS LATER: I wrote this testimony back in 2017, a few months after I had been released from prison. Since that time, much has happened. There have been many bumps in the road and many reasons to celebrate. Major medical procedures, acquisition of my own vehicle, money in savings, renewal of relationships with family, building of new relationships with new family and much more.
When I think of all the blessings that have transpired in my life since the last time, I wrote this testimony I scarcely can take it all in. I never thought so much change would occur in my life in so short a time. I know God has been in my life in many ways that I never expected but I am certainly thankful. This God-driven ministry has accomplished so much for me, I know I could never repay it. I would not know where to begin to tell you how important all the effort that has been spent on me has changed my life. I only know I must try to do the same for others that has been done for me. I do not know what the next chapter in my life has in store for me. I only know God will be in it.
Although I know God has been behind this all the way, I feel very strongly that I must mention the fact that God only works through vessels who allow themselves to be used and that’s where the Living Water Ministry Network comes in. The people who operate this ministry have chosen to fill their own lives with love, care and compassion for others and although Pastor Jim and Linda Bright have been crucial to this, I would be remiss if I were not to mention how many others are involved. Network is not just a word in this ministry, for it literally consists of dozens, maybe hundreds, of different individuals and programs carefully knit together with skill and purpose, having the soul effect of almost guaranteeing success for anyone having the desire to change their lives by improving their walk with God.
In closing, I would like to also thank the many men who I shared time and space within the ministry home. I especially thank alumni resident, Kurt F., a man who taught me iron sharpens iron and always remember to “Just let it go”. He is earned a special place in my heart. Thank you and God bless.