Tuan had no plan for his life until God sent him to the Prison Fellowship Academy.
Tuan Nguyen had heard good things about the Prison Fellowship Academy®, an 18-month program at the Carol S. Vance Unit in Houston, and he was hoping that it would be a good opportunity for him. Two years into his sentence for drug crimes, he hired a parole lawyer to help him navigate his options. However, his lawyer convinced Tuan that he didn't need the Academy. She was confident that she could get him on parole sooner without going through the program.
"I remember walking out of that parole office that day, and I just felt the Lord prompting me," Tuan says, "and what He was saying was, 'It doesn't matter what you want. It doesn't matter what you want because I am sovereign, and if I want you to go to Prison Fellowship Academy, I’m sending you."
Tuan "shook it off," but he felt an inexplicable pull toward the program, and within weeks, he found himself enrolled in the Academy.
FEAR OF FAILURE
For most of his life, Tuan had struggled to find his place and his identity. "I was always trying to people-please; I was always trying to live up to the expectations of my parents," Tuan remembers. "I really didn't have a sense of direction of who I was, and that ultimately led me to a life searching for significance in the streets."
At 17, Tuan went to jail for possession of cocaine. By the time he was placed on probation, the experience seemed to have scared him into trying to be better. At his parents' urging, he enrolled in college, but his fear of failure persisted. Eventually, Tuan dropped out of college with no degree and thousands of dollars in debt. It seemed like the only solution was to go back to what he knew he was good at—dealing drugs. Thus, began a revolving door of crime … and prison.
FROM DEALER TO LEADER
Prison provided Tuan with a chance to sober up, but it also provided a false security. "Every time I go to prison, I seem to have a tendency to just flourish," Tuan says. But when released, he would flounder and return to his old ways, dealing drugs. So, when he transferred to the Academy, Tuan was skeptical. Prison had failed to change him—would the Academy be any different?
Six months into the program, Tuan realized that something had changed: The more the Academy challenged him, the more Tuan tapped into his potential. The Academy offered Tuan a chance to grow, change, and transform. He began investing in the lives of his fellow prisoners. And he began at last to have a clear vision for his life.
"For once in my life, I [had] found a dream that was worth chasing," Tuan says. "[In] Prison Fellowship, that's where I found my strengths. I found my element, I found my purpose, and I began walking it out … I started learning how to lead. I started learning how to teach. Not only that, but I was preaching."
Today, Tuan is out of prison and following God's plan for his life. He has a heart to help others find their potential and purpose. Now, he plans to use his leadership skills to help advise returning citizens on how best to fix their credit.
"God is just really opening a lot of doors for me," Tuan shares. "I didn't understand it at first, but when I got out … I said, 'OK, this makes sense. I'm with You now.' … I have no idea how this is going to play out; I don't know who I'm going to meet; I just know that this is what I'm walking in."
Tuan pauses. "Faith doesn't make sense until you look at things in reverse," he adds.
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