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I was 14 when I came to jail with a life sentence. I am now turning 25 and have done 10 years in lockdown. But God speaks in mysterious ways. Through the hardships and struggles I have endured, moving from one facility to another, growing up in the system — He stayed with me.

There were rough times. I attempted suicide over a dozen times. I became an alcoholic at one point. I even almost died of bradycardia. But in the end, Jesus would find me every time. It could be with a pamphlet, or a verse, or maybe even a sermon I caught by chance on TV. But in the end, He never left me.

At 14, the media made me into a monster. I had committed murder, and my family walked away. But my father was a man of God and he is the only one who remained in the end. I wondered about his quiet strength, and after 10 years he finally revealed it was the Holy Spirit that kept him by my side.

As a child, I went to different churches. My aunt was a nun. I was influenced in all kinds of ways, torn by different denominations.

I got lost at some points, but I journeyed on to try and find the truth. Eventually it came to me: Jesus came to this sinful world as a sinless God to take our flaws and blemishes on Himself so that we may be made clean in the sight of the Lord.

The fact that all you must do to be saved is to believe changed my life. I became sober, started studying the word, went to Bible college. Now I am going to try to open the church when I parole and live for the Word. I will use my testimony to show that when God puts pressure on our souls, He is creating diamonds. In other words, He’s teaching us a lesson to grow and learn from, so that we may be closer to Him.

I have the possibility of parole next year and could use all the prayers I can get for both my parole and for my ministry once I am set free.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Global Forum Online has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Heather D’Aoust is a nonbinary writer, artist and author of two books, who also publishes under the pen name Jeff-Free. A practicing Buddhist, D'Aoust is incarcerated in California.