Eric will tell you it’s not his parents’ fault that he’s in prison. He started using drugs as a teenager and then, before long, he was selling them. When a drug deal went bad, he killed a would-be customer.
“I wasn’t raised like that,” he says. “My mom and dad, they tried their hardest. Everything I’ve done was my decision.”
But, at age 17, Eric found himself convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Eric’s girlfriend was pregnant when he was locked up. Their daughter, Alexandria, would be born five months later.
Eric was an atheist when he went to prison and remained one for his first 9 1/2 years behind bars – until a fellow inmate reached out to him with the Gospel. His heart was also touched by the generosity of people who gave and made it possible for him to build a relationship with his young daughter, Alexandria, through Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree® Christmas program. As soon as he learned about Angel Tree, Eric signed up his daughter so she could receive Christmas presents in his name.
“She loves the presents,” says Eric. “The local church — they go all-out. It makes me feel good that people in the free world take their time to go out of their way to do something like that!”
When Eric was transferred to a different prison, he faltered in his faith. But Prison Fellowship had an active presence in his new facility. When a Christian inmate saw Eric trying to turn his life around, he invited him to join the Bible-based ministry program run by Prison Fellowship staff and volunteers. Eric enrolled right away and began to grow strong in his faith once again.
Eric comes up for parole in 2014, and he hopes to become the father he knows Alexandria needs. He also hopes to someday return to prisons to creatively preach the Word of God through a softball ministry. “I can reach the young generation because I can intertwine softball with the Word.” Eric says that he believes his mission is to influence young people so they do not make the same mistakes he did.
“I want to reach every prison in the state of Alabama,” says Eric, “because I feel that God can take me from where I was to where I’m at now, and He can do that with anyone.”
Eric’s vision is big and bold – but so is His God.
GO DEEPER: Help more parents like Eric re-establish a relationship with their hurting children at www.angeltree.org!