To begin, my name is Joseph and I have known Devon and Sun for about six years.I am writing to show how my life has changed and to give you a glimpse into how Full Circle Refuge and few other key individuals have helped me to become a better person. I pray that you will see the way God has helped me and worked in my life as you read my story.
A brief history of what made me hate myself and doubt in God and believe that there was no reason to live. When I was eight my grandmother, who was my best friend, had surgery followed by a stroke which left her bed ridden and unable to speak. When I was eleven my house burned down and two months later, my grandfather died. The same month that my grandfather died, my father was diagnosed with back, brain, and lung cancer. When my father became sick things really started falling apart, leading to my being locked up.
The first time I was locked up was just to set bail, but the day I turned myself in, I took some meds that I hoped would take me out of the world. At the time I was fifteen and the offense had happened when I was thirteen. After I got out I attempted to kill myself many times. I still believe I should not have survived some of the attempts. I tried chemicals, shooting myself, strangling, and many other things; but thankfully God loved me so much He would not let me succeed.
By the time I received my sentence, which was five years through a plea deal to keep it in juvenile, I was eighteen. When I finally went to YDC I was depressed and didn’t care about anything. I tried to just let life go and not feel anything. Instead of letting me get my GED, they made me stay in school, so I just sat in class. That’s when Mrs. Wallace took me to the side and started talking to me. She was one of the few people I trusted so I didn’t hesitate to talk to her. She got me to open up to her and encouraged me to start talking to Chaplain Smalls, the chaplain at the YDC at the time, telling me that he could help me find direction in life. I followed her advice and even though it took me a while, I eventually started reading the Bible.
Chaplains Smalls and Colbert each took me under their wing and started teaching me God’s word and the truth. They showed me that the Bible had all the answers. Slowly I started believing in God. That is when Devon came into the picture. I told him how I felt and that I needed help coping with things. Devon wasn’t on a time limit like the other employees, so he could take his time. He was a father figure to me which was something that I really wanted. Through these five people I came to know and truly believe God loves me and I have a purpose. I started searching for what God wanted me to do while I was l locked up and although He has shown me a lot, I continue to seek His will.
They had to release me when I maxed out at twenty-one. After spending about a year looking for a job, my cousin got me one where she works. Before the I got this job I did my best to help take care of my grandmother who had never healed from the stroke. I am so glad God let me spend a few years with her before she died. I started the job and by the time the next year was over I had my first car and a little money put up in the safe. I got my license that same year. I was still looking for a church and finally found one I enjoy. Thanks to God and FCR my transition from jail to home was easy. With their help I had learned to stay away from things and people that would make me get into more trouble and to choose friends wisely. Constant prayer has kept my head up. I still stay in contact with FCR and its people.
My dream is to be able to help others by sharing my story. I am still shy and still struggle with many issues when talking with people, but I would love to be involved daily in a program like Full Circle Refuge so I can help others. Another goal of mine is to have a job that would allow me the flexibility to work and still do what God wants me to do without worrying about losing my job. I want to eventually go to school to learn to be a gun smith and also become a minister.