Light in Prison

My name is Jose Barron. I am 37 years old. I left home at age 15 and had no knowledge of God, of being a responsible person or of life. I moved in with family members who meant good, but I learned how to work them. They didn't know that I would leave the house late at night to party. It wasn't long before I joined an Oxnard gang. By the age of 21 I had experimented with multiple drugs, managed to get shot and spent close to two years in jail. I was living for the moment. At the age of 27, I was sentenced to a nine-year prison term.

During my first 30 days in prison, the Lord provided a cellmate who led me to the Lord through the sinner's prayer. It was then that I started to think like a man and to put my childish ways behind me. I was given the opportunity to continue my reckless drug activity in prison, but I felt conviction and could not continue. I first said no to drugs in January of 2008. To this day, eight years later, I am still living a sober life. While in prison, I studied the Word of God. I was blessed with genuine Christians who poured into me, fed me and showed me real fellowship. One cellmate encouraged me to check into a Christian-based sober living home. He told me that if he had sought acceptance from God rather than the world, he wouldn't be serving a life sentence. Those words really sunk in.

Upon release in 2011, I was offered a bed at Casa de Vida. They helped me reintegrate back into society, staying sober and instilling the foundation of my sobriety, Jesus our Lord and Savior. While in the program, I experience something I had missed in my life: structure and discipline. I was getting armored up, ready to fight the good fight. I have already won as I take my victory in Christ. When I graduated from Casa de Vida, I continued my education and obtained a degree from Cal State Channel Islands. Currently, I am working toward my Master's degree in Social Work from USC.

I am the first in my family to have been sentenced to prison, but also the first to accept Jesus as Lord and the first to continue in higher education. Had Casa de Vida not helped me transition into society as a Christian, I don't know where I would have gone. Thank you all for helping us and believing in the program. Casa de Vida is a part of my success story, and I know that it will be a part of others as well.

Editor's notes:

- Jose was recently promoted to Assistant Director at his place of employment..

- Casa de Vida is a partner ministry of Ventura Missionary Church.