My faith reconciled me with my dreams also. Initially upon committing to the faith, I shunned all things that I felt were not of God. This included, unfortunately, my dream of rapping. At the time, I could not see how the two passions could co-exist. It was tough to do but I was willing to sacrifice anything which I thought was not pleasing to God. So I let go of my pursuits but I never stop writing songs. One night during a late personal bible study, my attention was directed to the life of Joseph the dreamer in Genesis 41:46. Joseph was a teenager when he received his vision from God but it didn't come to pass until his adult years In Egypt. As I meditated on the text, the Lord ministered to me on how my love for rapping was a gift from Him but he couldn't get any glory out of it as long as I had secular ambitions. Every good gift comes from God and should be used to give Him glory. After been directed to some other scriptures, I closed my bible, opened my notebook and with tears of joy began writing holy heartburn.
Faith birthed freedom, freedom birthed forgiveness and forgiveness birthed reconciliation. Through faith ,I fell in love with the Father, again, by first falling in love with His word. The love of the word of God, reconciled me with the call into ministry, which I humbly accepted. Forgiveness allowed me to reconcile with the mother of my youngest children and we were eventually wedded. Armed with faith, ministry and a family, I was ready to go in the highways and byways to minister the grace of God.
With my faith reignited, I set out on a mission to seek God whole-heartedly. And though temptations came immediately, I was more determined than ever to overcome my shortcomings. The road of faith intersects with the road of forgiveness. As God had forgiven me of my trespasses, I too had learned to forgive those who had hurt me. I also had to seek forgiveness from others and I even learned to forgive myself. I discovered that forgiveness is a by-product of freedom and I refused to be a slave to guilt, animosity, bitterness or regret any longer.
In the 8th chapter of John in the bible, Jesus says," And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." It was this truth that I experienced for the first in my life while ironically being locked up in the county jail. Doing time, for any second, makes you appreciate time a little more. I know longer could stand for idleness. I begin allotting every waking moment to purpose which consisted of prayer, study, fellowship and witnessing. I signed up for every bible study available. My passion for Christ was erupting and I couldn't hide it. My passion eventually led to my cellmate requesting to be placed in a single cell so he could get away from my plea for him to seek Christ as well. About a month later, I walked out of The Forsyth County Jail, not just a free man but as a man who was free indeed.
The Holy Spirit immediately directed me to open my bible to Psalm 46. As I read the passage, verse 10 begin to amplify in my spirit: "Be still and know that I am God." That's when it all came to surface for me. I had spent the majority of my life running from the calling that God had on my life. Like Jonah I was attempting to hide out from the Father. So I was hiding out on the blocks, drink houses and night clubs. I was seeking comfort through my addictions and tender loving from the women in my life. Now finally, I was in a place where there wasn't any place to run, no place to hide. Now I was able to think clearly and soberly. Now I could hear the Father speaking to me: "Ron Stop!"
I return to the cell with scorching fervor for Christ. All my passions had now found the proper vehicle of release. However, this newly acquired joy was tested as I laid on that top bunk contemplating on all the moves I was going to make once I got out of jail. As I meditated it was clear that my past sinful life was deeply rooted in my heart. So as I was plotting my exit from this self destructive lifestyle, I decided I needed at least one more dance with the devil. So my plan upon release was to party one more time with the homies. I had a grocery list of things: a bottle of my favorite liquer, a bag of cocaine, hit my favorite club and a one night stand. After this lust filled night, I would commit to the Lord and my faith whole heartedly. However the more I meditated on it, the longer my list grew and the time period extended from one day, a week to a month. In the midst of my thoughts, the Lord spoke to me and said: "What else must I do?" Then In a flash, I saw how He had been by my side all of my life. Through the good and bad, God was there. The times I felt alone and abandoned, God was there, just like the Footprints poem.
I was excited to discover Evangelist Pam was leading bible study that day. Pam was a dear friend of the family and I recognized the look of disappointment on her face to see me in the county oranges. The Lord used her mightily that day as she boldly challenged the men in that room to step up and be the men that God created us to be. The message cut me to the bone and I knew change had to come. At the end of the service she gave a special altar call and I tearfully responded by rededicating my life to Jesus Christ. At that moment I felt a great burden lifted as an unexplainable peace came into my life. Strangely, it was during incarceration, that I tasted freedom for the first time.
Being in jail became a blessing in disguise. As I adapted to my circumstances, I also I had plenty of time to observe and reflect. Everybody who's locked up has a story and it was through listening and sharing that I discovered the common bond of choices. Though we were all there for different offenses, it was clear that we were reaping the fowl fruit of our choices. What really caught my ear were the young men that cycled through, some who had previously been incarcerated before. These young men failed to take any accountability for their actions. Many were already plotting on the next illegal hustle or pay back on those whom they felt were responsible for them being lock-up, I recall telling one guy:" you know if you do that, you're going to be right back in here?" As I listened, I discovered a very disturbing cycle of destruction amongst black men. At a very young age, these brothers were already systemized by the penal system. They had adapted to the results of poor choice making rather than learn from their mistakes. Suddenly I wasn't so comfortable with my environment anymore. Suddenly rec time lost it's savor, I no longer had interest in playing games or even the limited time available to watch t.v. I wasn't just having a change of mind and heart, but also a change of perception. That day I signed up to go bible-study and my life was impacted, eternally.......
So there I was at the top of the year in 2000 at the bottom of the barrel in the county jail. I was there due to a missed court date and probation violation. The judge jacked up by bail to a ridiculous sum and that point I prepared mentally to be there. My first day there, I was in the holding cell with a brother, who was picked up for a domestic dispute. His spouse had actually assaulted him, he called the police and of course they arrested him. He told me how he was scheduled to preach his trial sermon in a few weeks but his present circumstance caused him to question his faith and calling. Seeing this brother discouraged, I begin to offer a few words of encouragement. The words of God filled my mouth and begin to pour out and this brother was recharged. Before departing the cell, he asked," Who's the preacher, me or you?" That was a question I was still unwilling to answer......
So ages 18-28, I refer to as the blurry years. I spent the prime years of my life partying often in an alcohol/cocaine induced state of mind. During this period I also fathered two children but was still wading in the waters of selfishness and immaturity. I managed to stay gainfully employed however I ran the streets with the hustlers and when in Rome, you do what the Romans do. In the late 90's my life just really spiraled out of control which ended my relationship at the time as well as the lost of my job. I entered yet a even darker mindset and right at the beginning of the new millennium, I found myself once again in the county jail.........