Marlon is a living testament to second chances.
Born in Central America, Marlon arrived in the United States at age 6. As a child, he suffered as a victim of abuse. And when he was 7, he witnessed his first drive-by shooting. He watched a man die just feet away from him.
During his adolescence, Marlon was exposed to the world of gangs, and he began selling drugs on Los Angeles street corners. He got heavily involved in the cocaine trade and dropped out of high school. By the age of 17, Marlon was bringing in thousands of dollars a week as a dealer. But one day his world came crashing down. His closest ‘friends’ set him up, and he was robbed at gunpoint and beaten nearly to death.
After this, Marlon vowed to never sell cocaine again.
But it wasn’t long before Marlon met a group of people involved in the marijuana trade and began dealing drugs again. He fell deeper and deeper into a dangerous lifestyle — until he faced a life sentence for attempted murder.
A Fork in the Road
A plea bargain left Marlon with five years to serve in prison, with a deportation to Central America at the end of his sentence.
While incarcerated, Marlon met a Christian inmate who explained to him that he had two choices for his future: He could continue down a path detrimental to both himself and those around him, or he could become a man working to improve his life and his community. Marlon learned more about the concept of becoming a leader of positive change in The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI), a joint program of Prison Fellowship and World Impact that provides seminary-level education for prisoners.
Through TUMI, Marlon found the courage to ask God for forgiveness and move forward from his troubled past. While in prison, he continued growing closer to the Lord — learning how to be a true godly leader.
A Life Redeemed
Marlon is now released on immigration bond. He represented himself in court, and the judge was so impressed that he agreed to the bond. Though Marlon still faces deportation in the future, he is currently leading and mentoring others in his community. Marlon is continuing to pursue his seminary degree through TUMI and his associate degree in social behavioral sciences. After, he hopes to pursue a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and economics and then a doctorate in urban development.
While Marlon got an early start down a destructive road in life, God redirected his future and Marlon found freedom from all the drugs and gangs while in prison. Our Heavenly Father redeemed Marlon’s life, and now he’s changing the community around him for God’s Kingdom.
To learn how you can help bring restorative transformation to prisoners through programs such as TUMI, please visit www.prisonfellowship.org.
This story was submitted by Audrey Fay, a Prison Fellowship TUMI program specialist.