When Greg Hamilton arrived at Folsom Prison 32 years ago, it was a dangerous place. "I'm thankful to have survived those years," he says. "I truly know that the only reason I have made it this far is because God was looking out for me and watching over me."
PART OF FOLSOM PRISON
Back in the '80s, Greg would hide his Bible under his jacket and carefully make his way to the chapel so that the other prisoners would not see him as weak. But a lot has changed since then.
"Now today our congregation is nearly 600 people," Greg says. "There's been a great change of what's happened here in Folsom Prison."
It's a change that can also be found in Greg's own life. After three decades behind Folsom's walls, he sees himself as a part of the prison.
"I'm kind of becoming one of the mainstays of the prison," he says.
'GO LIVE YOUR LIFE'
One of the ways Greg has seen a change in his life and in his heart is in his response to life at Folsom. Like many prisoners, his family lives far away from Folsom. So far away, in fact, that they see each other about once a year.
One year, Greg's daughter refused to visit him.
"She said she could no longer come out—it was just too overwhelming for her," Greg remembers. Greg's daughter finally told her father that after each visit she would find herself so overwhelmed that she would be unable to work and even eat.
"That was one of the toughest times I had to face in prison because I told her, 'It wasn't your fault that I'm here. Go live your life.' That was the last time I talked to my daughter."
FOR THE RIGHT REASONS
Although saying such things caused Greg pain, he knew that they also revealed the great change that God's love was making in his heart. The man who he had once been—the "selfish man," the "criminal"—would never have let go of his daughter.
"But," he adds, "the man of God that I had become really transformed me into somebody who could make the right sacrifices for the right reasons."