My name is George Medley, and I believe in second chances.
For 30 years, George Medley was a career criminal. He's been arrested more than 50 times for crimes fueled by his drug addiction.
Today, George and his wife Irene run a successful scrap-metal recycling business and a nonprofit serving the poor in Denver.
ON THE RUN
George and Irene's marriage was … unconventional.
"I was actually on the run as a fugitive when I met Irene," George recalls. "We got married in Las Vegas under an alias in 1998. Her family found out who I was because I was being chased across New Mexico by the U.S. Marshals. Her family saw my face on TV. They were calling me George Medley, but Irene's family thought she had married 'Dave Montana.' "
It was Irene who kept George "from going over the edge," he says. "She's put up with me and my mess for 25 years."
It's been hard, shares Irene. George was incarcerated frequently during their marriage, and Irene wanted out. "My mother told me not to leave him during the worst times of his life," she says. So instead, Irene struck up an "arrangement" with God. "I said, 'You know what Lord? I'll stay.' I didn't want him to die—I thought he was going to overdose. 'But when I know that he's okay, then I gotta go.' "
But then a turning point happened in George's life.
'You know what Lord? I'll stay. But when I know that he's okay, then I gotta go.'
A NEW CREATION
It was 2004. I went to jail, and the sheriff came to the door and said, 'Does anybody want to go to church or Bible study?' I just wanted to get out of my cell [so I went].
It was just me and the volunteer. He said, 'Your problem is you haven’t ever surrendered to God.' … I went back to my cell. I had thought money and possessions were the key to happiness. I started recalling all the bad things I had done. It was like watching a video in my mind’s eye of all the things I did and all the people I hurt.
I flipped open a Bible to Matthew 6:33: 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God.' I felt peace come over me. It was the craziest thing.
Once George became a Christian, he changed. And Irene noticed.
Before his conversion, George had been so affected by his drug addiction that he couldn't finish sentences, Irene explains.
"When I came in to see him, he asked me how I was doing, which he had never asked before," Irene says. "He looked good. He was just a new creation, and I could tell. I had prayed for all those years. God was good to us."
As George continued his sobriety and his walk with Christ, Irene let go of her "deal" with God. "[George and I] started learning about each other all over again. I'm really blessed. I'm blessed that I was able to stick it out. We're still married to this day. That's a miracle."
'He was just a new creation, and I could tell. I had prayed for all those years. God was good to us.'
GIVING OTHERS A SECOND CHANCE
I got out of jail, and I decided that I didn't want to go back to that life. I actually wanted to start helping people ... Creating opportunities for people and employment is what we do. Probably half the people we have working for us have been to prison ... I've been given second, third, fourth chances, and I want to try to do that for others.
Together, George and Irene started their own business and nonprofit. In the years since, the Medleys have succeeded financially, but George knows that's because of God's favor.
"God has really blessed us financially more than I ever dreamed," George explains. "He gives us wealth so we can spread the Gospel and go out and make disciples, and it takes money to do that a lot of times. I like what Prison Fellowship does to help prisoners to get out and be successful. I like to be a part of it. God shows me that generosity breaks greed. I was a very greedy person who sold drugs because I was greedy. I fight against it by giving stuff away.
"Prison Fellowship has been instrumental in George’s ability to go where he thought the doors were closed and help to get people saved and lives transformed and turned around," Irene adds. "We like to share our success with others. Success unshared is failure.”
'I got out of jail, and I decided that I didn't want to go back to that life. I actually wanted to start helping people.'