Homeward Bound After a Criminal Past
Roy’s prison ID is more than just a reminder of his criminal past; it’s a picture of someone he calls the ‘Old Roy’- -a hardened man who spent his life struggling to love and be loved.
“I remember when I was a child, my dad would get angry and I just got so desensitized that he could literally beat me, and I would refuse to cry. He used to tell me, ‘Just cry’ and he could feel like he accomplished what he needed to accomplish.”
“My mom never hugged me, she never told me she loved me. It left me feeling kind of abandoned. I was looking for something. I knew there was more. I knew there was.” When Roy was 12, he thought he found what he was looking for. “I found some marijuana one day on the way home from school. I got home and smoked this marijuana and it was a whole love affair for me after that because it just took me away from all the chaos, the fears, all the things that were going on in my life.”
By age 15, he was addicted to meth and drinking heavily. He was kicked out of high school at 17 for selling drugs on campus but to Roy it was worth it.
“I look at my drug life like it was a relationship. My drugs never let me down. They always made me feel good. They always picked me up. They always covered up all that pain.” Roy got married and had a family, but continued dealing drugs. At 25, he was busted in a drug task force sting. When he was sentenced to two years in Folsom, his wife divorced him. “When the divorce was over and I was sitting there by myself, all I wanted was my wife and kids back. And it hurt. And I was like, You know, This is not real. This is not – It doesn't last. So I developed an attitude that nothing was going to last, and I was going to take as much from it as I could before it was over, because I wasn't going to get taken again.”
Once out of prison, Roy married again and began manufacturing methamphetamine. His wife, Kelly, hoped that if she turned him in, he’d finally get sober in jail but when she tipped off police, she didn’t know about his long list of past convictions. Roy was arrested and faced 25 years in prison. While out on bail, Roy says he received some unexpected guidance. “I heard God speak to me, and I knew who it was for the first time in my life. God spoke to me and told me, Don't lie. “I was sick and tired of my life. I was sick and tired of the lying. I was sick and tired of my life being a complete lie always; in relationships, with the cops, with everyone around me. I didn't know who I was.”
Roy had sometimes attended church with his grandparents as a boy and now began praying to God for help. On the day of his sentencing, he was driving to court when he pulled over and stopped outside a church. “I saw a big cross and I jumped out. I ran over to the cross and I got down on my knees and I just started praying. Forgive me for my sins and all the things that I've done. Forgive me for the people that I've hurt, all the people I sold drugs to, the people I threatened and pushed around and, God, just give me a chance. God, I don't want to go to prison. But you know what, God, if that's what I've got to do…If that's where you want me to be, that's what I'll do. I finished praying for my family. I prayed for myself. I prayed for the judge and I got up and I went to court.”
He had surrendered his life to Christ and now trusted God with his future. In court, Roy confessed his crimes. The district attorney said that justice demanded the maximum sentence.
“My heart kind of sunk and I thought, Oh my God. This is what God wants? My own attorney even turned around and said, ‘Why did you pay me all that money to walk in here and plead guilty?’ And all of a sudden the judge spoke up and said, ‘If there ever was a man with integrity, it's that man right there."
Instead of sentencing him to 25 years in prison, the judge ordered Roy to spend 7 months in a Christian rehab program. Roy says it was God’s grace that gave him a chance he didn’t deserve. “There was nobody else could do it. Who could? Who could work miracles like that? I pleaded guilty. I was already convicted. Who's going to get me out of this? It ain't me and anybody I know.”
Roy successfully completed rehab in 2005 and has been sober ever since. He is still married to his wife Kelly. He says he’s thankful she turned him in, because that’s when God turned his life around. “God just accepted me for who I was and I knew that he loves me no matter what I’m going through, no matter how bad it gets. So it's through His grace and mercy that I can love today. He's given me my wife back. He's given me my children. He's given us that love.”
Today Roy and Kelly lead Homeward Bound Ministries, which feeds people in the parks of Woodland, California every weekend.
And “Old Roy” is now “New Roy,” thanks to the love of Christ.
“I had a guy step up to me at the park. He said, ‘Who do you think you are? I know who you are. I know what you've done. I've done drugs with you. What gives you the right to come out here?’ And I said, Jesus Christ did. My life has stability, it has meaning, it has purpose, it has hope. I have everything – I have everything I need through giving my life to Christ.”