Thank you for this opportunity to share what an impact Connections (Peter Kim) has made on me. Your guidance, encouragement, and personal involvement played an essential role in my new life and I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for you.
Even before I was released from prison you helped in many ways. You visited Fremont, giving us concrete proof that we could succeed and there was nothing to fear. You helped me put together a solid parole plan which included housing and employment opportunities. Because of Connections Prison Ministry I had a safe place to lay my head and a job to provide for my financial needs, the two most important ingredients for success. You even communicated with my family support helping them to understand the challenges and restrictions I would be facing. All of this gave me the confidence that I was not stepping out alone, but that God was leading me forward into a new life that He Himself was providing.
January 23rd, 2020, I was released from Fremont Correctional Facility and you were there to pick me up. I was totally overwhelmed; a deer in the headlights. I just wanted to get as far away and as quickly as possible, but your calm demeanor and joyful confidence helped me to focus on my future and reminded me to always be hopeful no matter what the obstacle. I lost my ID right away, had difficulty accessing my funds, and forgot to ask important questions, but you helped me believe that I could find the solution because God was for me, not against me. In short, you were a Brother-in-Christ to me. Thank you so much.
Amazingly, Connections Prison Ministry’s help didn’t stop that first day out. You called me, asked how you could help, connected me with other ministries for food and clothing, and introduced me to other men that loved Jesus. You encouraged me that I was on the right path, to trust Jesus, to place my hope in His unending grace, and to continue to live a surrendered life. I listened because I knew you cared. I knew that you understood my struggles because you had gone through what I had, in fact we’d lived through it together. And I knew I wasn’t alone.
I am reminded of Paul’s letter to Thessalonica, a letter of encouragement and remembrance if his work for the gospel in their city. Paul says in the 2nd chapter, beginning in verse 7: “but we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our own selves, because you had become very dear to us”. He continues in verse 11: “For you know, how like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you, and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of the call of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory”.
This is what Connections Prison Ministry is accomplishing in Colorado, for the glory of God and the praise of Jesus His Christ. I will always be grateful to the love and care Connections has shown me, and my desire is to continue to follow their example as God places men in my path.
My name is Shawn McClune and I served 13 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections. I would like to tell you about 2 people and a ministry that took time out of their lives to help me restart mine. I was released from the Fremont Correctional Facility on February 6th, 2020. Peter drove all the way to Canon City from Denver to pick me up and help me begin my life outside of prison. Peter brought with him a cellphone and some clothes – I was very happy they weren’t State issued green uniforms. After picking me up and letting me change clothes, he took me for my very first cup of Starbucks. WOW, so that’s what a real cup of coffee tastes like!!! It tasted so good after drinking prison canteen coffee all these years.
We then drove to Colorado Springs where Peter had pre-arranged for me to meet up with another good friend I knew from prison and Michelle Gott. We had breakfast at IHOP where Peter bought me some incredible food. That meal was amazing and I was reminded how good eggs and bacon taste. I hear people say that “It’s the little things that are taken for granted.” But for me, those things aren’t really little.
From there we went to the parole office where I got all the new rules I needed to live by; then a drug & alcohol intake interview along with my first drug test. These first steps took several hours and Peter waited for me and never complained about a single thing.
Let me pause for a moment and give you a broader picture of what is really going on in my life. When I went to prison in 2008, I had not one thing to my name or a relationship to count on. I had wasted everything and burnt the few people I had in my life. Both my parents had passed and I had no communication with other family members. During my time in prison, I was able to get a job assignment that allowed me to accumulate a couple of things like a TV and coffee pot. I also managed to save a couple of hundred dollars which the DOC places on a pre-paid debit card. (Which I could not have access too because I need a phone to activate the card.) I came out of prison scared but I knew I wasn’t alone because I knew Peter.
So, very little money on a prepaid card I can’t access, no phone, no bus ticket, no clothes or food – if Peter doesn’t pick me up and gifts me a cellphone – I am not sure how I would have started. Do you have any idea how hard it is; as a person just released from prison, to ask a stranger to borrow their phone?
The system doesn’t make it any easier either. Without someone like Peter taking the time to help me I am left to ride the DOC bus out of Canon City. I get dropped off approximately 20 miles away from the parole office and I’m left to get all the parole requirements accomplished while carrying my few possessions in a strange city. This is why people like Peter and Michelle are so important and ministries like Connections Prison Ministry is so essential to those who are getting out of prison and starting the next chapters of life. In my humble opinion, it’s the first day that matters the most. You have to get so much done; check-in with parole, drug and alcohol testing, ankle monitor, get to the place where you will be living, get some basic living supplies and oh by the way – do it all before your parole assigned curfew time arrives.
Peter and Michelle took me around town all day long to get done all the things I needed to get done so I could start my time on parole the right way. They even took me to Walmart and bought me clothes, shoes, food, hygiene, a pillow, sheets and a blanket. Then they bought me dinner and dropped me off at the place I would live at. But the support and encouragement didn’t stop there. They came to see me every week – they checked to see if I had enough food and a bus pass. They asked me tough questions to ensure I was finding success on parole and they prayed with me… Michelle even took my dirty laundry with her to wash and fold. You can’t even imagine the love that Peter and Michelle have for us.
They did this every week while I lived in Colorado Springs. The truth is – the amount of love that Peter and Michelle have for the Lord and His children creates a bond between us that will last a lifetime. I had been hearing there might be some better opportunities for me in Denver. I reached out to my PO but then the Coronavirus kicked-in and I had a very difficult time communicating with my PO. But after communicating this frustration with Peter, he even managed to get me transferred to Denver within just a few days. Peter arranged my move to Denver and got me my first job. Then he was able to give me a lead on my current job where I have really taken off. Recently I told Peter that I was living my best life…I have a good job, a car, positive friends, a savings account and most importantly I have a Savior – things I’ve never had before. I’m not doing drugs, drinking alcohol and have no desire for criminal behavior. Peter and I talk on a regular basis and he holds me accountable even asking me to put together a budget which I’ve never done before. He even corrected my first attempt at a budget because I was missing money to put into a savings account and also a tithe. I am so grateful for all of this. I don’t believe anything going on in my life right now would be possible without Connections Prison Ministry; they have been a true blessing from God!
Hi. My name is Fred Hill.
My journey began a long time ago. Ever since my childhood, my grandmother and my mother expressed the importance of having Jesus in my life. Personally, I could never see this God they incessantly sermonized about, because all I could see was the devil in everything around me. Through much rebellion and outright disrespect, I ended up in prison. I always felt as though I would die running the streets; however, the fervent prayers of my two warriors kept God’s hand on my life.
Prison was much of the same for me. I couldn’t outrun myself no matter how hard I tried. Reality forced its way into my life then I finally saw who I truly was. I finally saw that I was the wretch from the song ‘Amazing Grace’ and I had to finally grasp that my strength in and of itself was futile. Like many people before and after me, I too ran from God, but I didn’t get far. I was found guilty of second-degree murder and it felt like God (or this Jesus) had abandoned me.
The day after my trial, two men were in the pod waiting for me. With seductive speech, they indoctrinated me into another religion. For a while, it worked because I felt as though God didn’t love me or He wanted me believing in a different way. After a few years of the same turmoil, strife and chaos, I was finally at the end of my rope. I knew at that moment, I desperately needed God. I needed Him to answer my prayers. I yelled and screamed at God, ‘Show me how You want me to worship You!’ He sent me the answer through my friend, my brother, my mentor, Charles Limbrick. He helped me to understand what it truly meant to be a Christian. At first I thought it was going to be – accept Jesus and everything will be great. I could not have been more further from the truth. Accepting Jesus is only the beginning. After acceptance, that is where the real work of the Holy Spirit begins. One of my favorite Bible verses is Psalm 66:8-12 (NIV). To me, this verse describes the struggle people like me had to go through. Being refined like silver and thrown into the fire does not feel good. As hard-headed as I am, I was thrown into the fire more times than I should have been. God knows what it takes for each individual; I’m just glad He never gave up on me.
He never gave up on Peter Kim either. I am so proud of Peter and the opportunities other convicts receive through his ministry, Connections Prison Ministry. What Satan meant for evil, God is using for good. I am thankful I was able to serve alongside Peter at Fremont Correctional Facility on the Protestant setup crew. God is real and He is raising up an army of giants behind these walls, to go out and do His will.
Hello, my name is Sidney Wilson and I would like to say that it is an honor, privilege and a blessing to be able to share my testimony with you. I would like to say, “Praise God!” for all He has done in me, for me and through me. I give Him all the honor, praise and glory the Lord deserves.
I was given a sentence of 20 years to life in which I served 15 hears. By the grace of our Lord and Jesus Christ, I was blessed and accepted to the half-way house in Commerce City. As a young boy, I was told I would be attending Sunday school which I didn’t mind at all. It was an opportunity for me to be around all my cousins, who were also told they would be attending Sunday school. So, at an early age I knew who Christ was and heard all the stories you typically hear in Sunday school, but I was a long way away from establishing a personal relationship with Jesus.
My mother and father did an awesome job of raising me and my siblings. I know there isn’t anything as perfect parents; but in my eyes, my mom and dad were the closest thing to it. After longs days at work, they would make time to teach and encourage me and my siblings constantly instilling in us the importance of hard work and that no one will just hand us anything. “You as a man or woman have to want it and go get it.” is what they would tell us. They definitely did everything they could to make sure we didn’t go without and if we did, everything was going to be ok.
As I got older, I began to make a lot of bad choices in my life. I started drinking alcohol, abusing drugs and joining a gang. These choices I made were impulsive and very selfish. My dad once said I always wanted to be “The center of attention.”, and all these poor choices made that come true. At age 20, I got married to my high school sweetheart. We have 3 beautiful children together – 2 girls; Talia and Mariah and 1 boy, Sid Jr. Their mother and I were together for 13 years and married for 8 years. She joined the Air Force and we moved to San Antonio, TX. During my time there, I started using crack-cocaine very heavily. My wife and kids left me because of my drug use and so I decided to move back to Colorado, where my drug use continued and even got worse. I soon met my second wife, and we had a handsome son we named Jaudon. Unfortunately, during this time, I was still using drugs and making additional choices that eventually led me to prison.
When I arrived at my first DOC facility, in my mind I had no intention of doing even 1 year in prison much less than the 20 years I was sentenced. My plan was to get my hands on as much medication and drugs as I could, take it and never wake-up. I was sitting in the cellhouse day-room one day watching TV when a man named Ramonde approached me and invited me to a Bible study that he and other men held every day. I agreed and the next day I attended. As I continued to attend, I expected some changes in my life but as the first few months went by, I didn’t really see anything different happening in my life. I spoke to Ramonde about how I was feeling and he told me, “Brother, you need to go to your prayer closet, get on your knees and ask the Lord what you can do for Him. Not what the Lord can do for you.” I did exactly what he said – I started seeing little changes in my life and then in my families lives. My children were still struggling but nothing like before. I started finding myself more at peace than I had ever experienced and I was in prison!!! I’ll never forget another statement Ramonde made at a Bible study. He said, “It’s time to get out of the pews brothers!” So, after that day, I started to take advantage of every opportunity that the Lord started to give me. I volunteered for everything I could. My heart had truly changed! Now, I had a passion to build people up and not tear them down. I wanted to encourage them and not discourage them. I wanted to love them and not hate them. I wanted to “comfort those who are in affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4). I started to see that being used by God was an honor and blessing.
When my mother and father would tell me that family members would call and ask if my Christian brothers in prison and I would intercede in prayer for them it brought me great joy to my heart. So now, instead of me being the center of attention, it’s the Christ that lives in me that became the center of attention. My relationships with my children and family are 100 times better than before. I’ve also made and continue to make new friendships with brothers that are motivating and inspiring. The people the Lord has placed in my life have helped me to become a better all-around individual. One of the men in my life who is the most motivating and inspiring is my brother in Christ Peter Kim. This is truly a man who is walking daily in his calling. The ministry he has, Connections Prison Ministry is truly a blessing to all men but especially to those who are coming out of prison – those who don’t have much or in most cases, nothing at all. Through a relationship with Peter, they can find a new hope in Jesus. I have personally had men tell me that without the help they received from Peter Kim’s ministry they would have made a decision which would have resulted in going back to prison. I know it means the world them that somebody truly cares about helping them transition and find success in society. The Lord has allowed our brother Peter and those who serve alongside of Connections Prison Ministry to make a difference in the lives of those who are moving from prison to the outside world. Peter is just not speaking words but following it up with actions that make a difference. There is no doubt in my mind that one day he will hear, “Well done good and faithful servant!” when he enters our Father’s heavenly Kingdom.
I want to thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ once again for giving me the opportunity to share with you all He has done for me and to also say “Thank you!” to Connections Prison Ministry for helping me and giving me an opportunity to have hope through Jesus.
God bless you all!
My name is Leslie. I’ve been invited to share my story with you and it’s a great privilege to do so. The truth is, I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this, on the outside. I’ve had the chance once or twice on the inside and the hardest part for me is still the “tell us a little about yourself” statement that should begin my story. It’s hard for me to imagine what people could want to know about me, but here goes the short-version (believe it or not!), of a long story that’s had some rough patches and is now taking me down some extraordinarily beautiful paths.
I’m a third-generation native to our amazing state of Colorado. In fact, I used to live just a few blocks from the house where my grandfather was born in Denver. I come from a loving, and well-intended family. I also grew up knowing that I was an unintended, unplanned consequence, though I didn’t really understand how this would affect me until I’d been sitting alone in a cell for the first couple of years. My parents were young and they just weren’t ready. They loved me but not each other so they divorced by the time I was five years old. The rest of my history includes a lot of great times in what used to be a well-connected family – two parents and a younger sister I’ve adored since before she was born, not to mention four grandparents and tons of aunts, uncles, cousins, and even two great grandparents who were all a regular part of my childhood.
It would be through the process of much self-evaluation and following of the Holy Spirit during my prison stay that I realized this loving and well-intended family is also who taught me so much about codependency and being a good enabler. Another unintentional reality. My history also includes an introduction to domestic violence at the age of 12, teenage pregnancy just before my 16th birthday,
and a choice to quit school and leave home at 17 with an abusive boyfriend because I saw that as the lesser of two evils, given what was going on at home by that time. Once I figured out how to stop getting involved with abusive men, I moved on to make life a 25-year party, somehow graduating college twice. I was also completely unaware of how commonplace denial had become for me or how consequential the many poor choices I was making along the way would be.
It was about two weeks before my 45th birthday when I was arrested in early 2015 and as we start 2021, I’m still on parole. I started seriously looking at what was going on in my life early on in my 16 months of county jail. Having never been arrested before yet finding myself facing a prosecutor pushing for life in prison at the age of 45, I knew I’d better get some things straight in my heart and in my mind, no matter what the outcome was to be of my legal troubles.
I think that’s what God was waiting for…me to start asking Him for answers, and I quickly learned that I could sit and be scared and miserable, or I could get busy with God and thrive. It was there, at County, that I decided to be baptized. Since then, the Holy Spirit has been by my side leading me every step of the way. At every turn, God has connected me with amazing people who have answered His call in their lives and who help me navigate my way not only through the legal system, but also on what has become a most incredible and beautiful adventure. Peter and Michelle are now among those people.
Many folks come to know these two amazing people through various channels of communication as they prepare for release from prison. Or upon their release, they are blessed to find one or both of
them literally waiting at the gate to help with the many new needs and responsibilities that require immediate attention as those first steps into freedom are taken. I didn’t need clothes, bus passes, food, a phone, or a roof over my head when we met, though I have no doubt they would have helped me find all of those things and much more. I didn’t need an introduction to the Lord either, though I know they are among the sincerest people you could hope to help you meet our Lord here on earth.
It could be said that if not for COVID-19 and all its changes to our daily lives, I might not have met Peter and Michelle. For me, that also means that I have yet another example of the MANY ways God really does work all things for good. One of the most frequently quoted verses from the Bible is Romans 8:28. In the New Living Translation it reads, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called to his purpose for them”. If that doesn’t describe Peter and Michelle, among several others I’ve come to know since my arrest, I don’t know what does!
Just as only God could help me turn the tragedy that led me to prison into an opportunity to find the best version of myself, it was because of the pandemic that the Division of Parole management, staff, and Core Group leaders of the 7 Habits for Highly Effective Parolees classes persevered to find an alternative to the state-wide restrictions in order to keep the class active. Among the unforeseen benefits of the pandemic’s changes to the face of the 7 Habits class was having Peter as a Core Group leader, with Michelle to complement the mentorship that Peter has a natural talent for offering.
It was in our 7 Habits class that Peter made a comment that resonated with me. Essentially, he said (as anyone who has spent any time on the inside can certainly relate to), the most important thing about being in prison is getting out of prison. I too once thought it was my goal to put prison and everything, and everyone associated with it behind me , to eventually be forgotten like a very bad dream. Peter went on to share that he’s learned some of the most important people who are present in his life are those who have come from prison as well. It was this sharing of a personal paradigm shift, as well as the interactions with other parolees who also have amazing stories, that caused a shift of my own. It was in prison after all, that I learned more about myself than I’ve ever known. It was in prison that I truly met God! How could I think I should leave that part of my life in the past?!
I’ve always known that my past shapes who I become as the years continue on in life. Every experience, every success, every failure, every lesson learned…it all makes me who am today, and more importantly, who God wants me to be tomorrow. It was Peter, though, who made me realize that this must include my experiences in prison as well. Like any other element of my past, it too will always be part of who I am becoming.
I used to think that at some point, when I got out of County, or later when I was released from D.O.C., that I would reach a point in time when my story was “ready”, as if it all has to be past-tense before I can write it and share it with anyone. Once I knew what my sentencing would be, once I was released
from prison, once I get off parole, etc., then I would have the ending for my story, and I could begin telling it. I realize now, of course, that if I wait for that moment in time, I’ll never write anything or share it with anyone because the “end” won’t come until death physically stops me. As long as I’m
seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance and God’s love, there will always be something new to learn and there will always be something important to talk about and share.
By the time I got to D.O.C., I had figured out that I wanted God to be a much bigger part of my life than He had ever been before. I had always known of God, but it wasn’t until I ended up someplace that no one else could be with me except God that I finally considered having my own relationship WITH God. I was focused on figuring out what was at the root of how I got there and ensuring that I would never return. Turns out, God has much more in store!
I believe God wants me to tell you all of this so you can get some idea of what led me to finally become ready to listen to Him, and so you will know that it doesn’t have be through countless, meaningless promises you make. You can’t bargain with God. He already holds all the chips.
I believe God wants me to tell you how gentle the Holy Spirit is when we’re at our absolute lowest and worst places in life. He’s already there, waiting; all you have to do is not resist and get out of your own way. I believe God wants me to tell you how His forgiveness heals, no matter how painful the hurts are and no matter how old and deep they are.
I believe God wants me to tell you how true all this is, and how He has made people like Peter and Michelle (and so many others) available as living proof so you can see for yourself if you will simply allow yourself to be loved, first by God, and then by yourself. Then you will also have something important to share just as God means for us to do.
CAN A TWISTED LIFE BE MADE RIGHT (STRAIGHT – suggestion)!?
Hello, everyone, my name is Samuel Kase White and I am a prisoner sentenced to the Colorado Department of Corrections. When I was sentenced in 2009, the newspaper headline read ‘Man Sentenced to 68 Years in Prison’. I was overwhelmed with rivers of despair that flowed from an ocean of guilt. I had finally drown in my lust for women. That very day I cried out to God for help, believed in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and turned from my sins toward God.
In My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers, he writes the following: ‘If the Spirit of God has ever given you a vision of what you are apart from the grace of God (and He will only do this when His Spirit is at work in you), then you know that in reality there is no criminal half as bad as you yourself could be without His grace.’ I am truly ashamed of my crimes and I was completely wrong in my thoughts, actions and behavior toward my victims. My poor choices were evil and resulted in me hurting people that didn’t deserve to be hurt by me. I cannot pretend that I will ever understand the extensive amount of their pain, my family’s pain, their family’s pain, the community I ruined, and the suffering of us all, by my crimes. Their hatred is warranted because ‘the perverse person is an abomination to the Lord…(Proverbs 3:32a).’
BUT GOD, through the grace of God and His Word, has shown me unfailing love, mercy and forgiveness. Everyday He never leaves me, praise God! Obedience to Jesus Christ (to Whom I owe everything), a love for women and men as God’s children, and my proven character, is my personal goal in prison now, because I am sentenced to life eternal in Jesus. Recently, I have devoted my time to tithing/giving regularly, fasting and praying diligently and proclaiming what Jesus has done in my life. It has been like adding a turbo charger to a finely tuned engine: more love, more power! I read that ‘Most avowed (?) Christians are slackers, giving relatively little, never evangelizing and risking nothing (Moral Apologetics for Contemporary Christians, by Mark Coppenger (?) ) ‘ and I had to repent and do works that spring up from my love of Christ and His church. The love of Christ is like a trampoline, and my jumping is the work that I live for now as a new creation, a pure joy in Him.
Now I have a resource with Connections Prison Ministry and my brother Peter Kim. The men and women of God who are in my life truly have shown me the love of Christ. The staff at Connections Prison Ministry are my mentors, prayer partners and volunteers who have visited me in prison. I have a great love for this ministry as I have seen first-hand its far-reaching impact on us prisoners. They have helped many of our brothers leaving prison with everything from cell phones to employment and housing. It is so humbling to know that this resource is available to me if I get paroled and even now while I am still in prison. They have donated Christian books, music and Bibles to men to further the Lord’s kingdom. Thank you for supporting this ministry. Essentially you are also supporting men just like me!
Love you all!
Samuel Kase White