Ligonier Ministries regularly hears stories of minds that have been renewed and lives that are being transformed through the gospel outreach you enable with your generosity. The Ligonier team hopes this letter encourages you as it did us. This is Brett’s story.
Some called me “the meanest man in Texas.” I cannot imagine a worse human being than I was before my conversion. I grew up with a chip on my shoulder, bounced around from foster homes to orphanages to a juvenile reformatory, and then finally I was sentenced to prison. I was mean and hateful and never smiled. When I first arrived in prison, I quickly saw that you had to be mean to survive. That wouldn’t be a problem for me, so I set out to show people just how mean I was. I stayed in constant trouble, getting in fights and refusing to work. Once, I attacked a guard with a piece of broken glass. Another time, I hit a guard in the mouth with a jagged piece of metal.
In 1984, I joined a prison gang. Once that was discovered, I was put in administrative segregation (solitary confinement), where I stayed for the next twenty-one years.
In 2004, I was in “super seg” at the Estelle High Security Unit in Huntsville, Tex. I lived in a cell by myself, with only a narrow sheet of plexiglass to see out. I’d gone months without talking to anyone when, one day, I noticed some guy waving at me from across the run. I quickly jumped out of the way, thinking to myself, “What’s this dude’s problem?” The next day, he was waving at me again. I turned off my light so he couldn’t see me, but I was watching him from the darkness of my cell to see what he was about. He stood there for a few minutes, then sat back down on his bunk and started reading his Bible. “OK, he’s one of those,” I thought to myself. I decided I’d mess with his head the next time he tried to flag me down.
The next day, the opportunity presented itself. When he waved at me, I stood there at my window glaring at him. He smiled back at me and started making funny motions with his hand. I realized he was trying to use sign language to communicate with me, so I shook my head and continued to glare at him. Sign language was how inmates in “super seg” communicated, because you couldn’t be heard through the solid doors. I saw that he wanted to teach me sign language, so I decided, why not? Over the next few days, he taught me the alphabet.