Bobby’s road wasn’t easy. He still vividly remembers the day, almost 30 years ago, when he sat alone in a Virginia jail cell waiting for his turn in court.
“I had a sheriff come up to my cell door and hand me a little piece of paper. It said I had a blue-eyed, blond-haired, 6-pound, 10-ounce little boy,” he recalls. “Two weeks later, I got a fresh 10-year sentence.”
That may have been the lowest point of his life. But by the grace of God, it was not the end of his story.
Desperate for Hope
Raised by a single mom, and introduced to drugs and alcohol by his older siblings, it wasn’t long before Bobby got into trouble. He was sentenced to prison for the first time at the tender age of 16. From then on, prison was a revolving door.
Until a day one December, while Bobby was out on parole. He stopped on a whim to look at the nativity scene at a church near his home. He was ready to walk away when the pastor stopped him and asked if he’d like to talk. The pastor shared the Gospel with Bobby that day. Before their conversation was over, he had trusted Christ.
Things didn’t change overnight. Bobby ended up in prison again, but this time, he says gratefully, “I went back saved.”
Growing in Faith
While in prison, Bobby heard about Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program. Bobby says, although he had trusted Jesus, he was still wary of those folks called “Christians.” But on his second Christmas back behind bars, he decided to sign up his son, Robby, for Angel Tree anyway.
“I called home a few days after Christmas,” Bobby remembers. “Robby’s mom said that some nice folks had brought him a Power Rangers suit.”
For the first time in a long time, Bobby felt like a dad.
Robby, now 28, remembers that Christmas and the Power Rangers suit, too.
“I didn’t want to take it off,” he says. “I knew my dad gave it to me. To me, it felt like love.” He remembers thinking, “My dad is real! He cares about me—cares enough to send a present.”
That was only the beginning. While still in prison, Bobby also began reading a Prison Fellowship publication called Inside Journal, written specifically for prisoners, and distributed four times a year at nearly 700 federal, state, county, and community correctional facilities nationwide.
“There was nothing like Inside Journal,” Bobby says. “Prison Fellowship interviewed people who had truly changed … I used to look at their smiles, wondering what they had, and realized they had a peace they couldn’t fake. I read Inside Journal for hope and answers,” he adds.
Today, after 20 years of living successfully outside of prison, Bobby has devoted his life to sharing hope and answers with those still on the inside.
Two years after his release from prison in 1995, he and his wife, Nan, began a music and teaching ministry to prisoners called ChristSong. He calls it a privilege to “lead those in prison to a life-changing encounter with the one and only living God.”
“We know that this is God’s ministry,” Bobby says. “We are humbled and privileged to know that He uses us, especially our past and our pain. What the enemy intended for evil, God uses for good, touching hearts for His glory.”