This is Part 5 of our 6-part interview series. Please pray for Jeromy as he continues to grow in the Lord.
I grew up in a small town, named Livermore Falls, in the state of Maine since I was about seven years old. Before that most stuff is a blur so I am not sure the order of it or if some of it is even real. I have an older sister by two years. We had a rocky relationship growing up and still have not mended it. My mother was a stay at home mom that ran a bakery business out of the house and occasionally worked at restaurants as the cook. My biological father and mother got divorced when I was about one. I have a step father that has been there since and I consider him to be my dad. He worked a steady job all my life to support our family. He is and always has been the essence of a REAL man. I suffered a great deal of bullying while growing up in Livermore Falls. Around the age of thirteen, I finally started to fight back and I had a real “knack” for it. So, naturally, I ended up getting into trouble ’cause of it.
I was never incarcerated until I was eighteen. Now I am thirty-four and still in lock-up. I served about a total of twelve years for an assortment of crimes ranging from simple assault to elevated aggravated assault. I have gun charges, thefts, burglary, domestic violence and even a kidnapping charge. I have served a sentence in Texas Penitentiary and been locked up in all of the Maine DOC facilities.
Since I have led such an “eventful” life, I have had very limited contact with my family and children that include three children’s mothers and five children. I have essentially been estranged from my family now after doing so much time.
About 2009, I started to doubt the lifestyle that I was leading and desired something new, though I did not know what that “new” thing was. I ended up getting into trouble again and serving a 364 day county sentence in the State of Maine. During this time, I was truly introduced to God. I started to go to church at the jail and thought that I may have found something. Then, something went wrong in my life that drove me to try to commit suicide. During this time period, I was studying the Bible with such a fervent desire that I became extremely knowledgeable in the “WORD”. Thank the Lord that my suicide attempt was thwarted by the quick response of the correctional officers at the facility that I was in and my life was spared. From that moment on, I was into the Word constantly, sometimes I would be studying the Bible for ten even twelve hours a day. Then, I got released with no real plan. I just kind of “winged it”. I went to church on the streets for about three months, then got caught up in life and stopped going. I did well for about eighteen months, but like every other time in my adult life, I messed up again. A little substance abuse, a little ignoring my mental health and a lot of ignorance and here I sit again.
This time, I am too ashamed to turn to God. I turned my back on Him when I was out on the street. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, so for the first seven months, I didn’t touch the Bible. Then, a guy comes up to me and tells me that I am the only one holding me back. So, I pick up the Bible and start going back to services in the jail. I start to really study the Bible again. Then, I get baptized. That was where things really started to pick up. I was experiencing a real change in my life. I got transferred to a different jail where the Lord was doing some absolutely amazing things. Never had I seen the Lord at such work in any facility or church that I had been to. I started to see who is now my religious mentor and God started to use me in a way I never thought would be possible. I started to lead Bible studies in my cell block, then HE led me to help in leading a service in the library in the jail. All the while, God is changing my heart, mind and soul. I find myself thinking and acting so much different than ever before. I gain a real conscience and true compassion for others. Things that were natural for me to do like steal, fight and cheat, I found that I could not do them so readily any longer. People started to look up to me in a positive way. I was becoming a role model and this is and was all thanks to the Lord.
I have been blessed by God to be able to now teach (and learn) the Bible in two different facilities. I currently lead a discipleship class, I am involved in two separate Bible colleges, I am referred to as the religious leader in the jail and have been blessed to partake in the baptism of eight inmates so far.
The good Lord above has and is doing amazing things in and through me. I give 100% of the credit to HIM and HIM alone. None of this would have been possible if not for HIM.
My entire life has changed and is still changing and ALL to the glory of GOD.
I AM NEW ! ! ! (2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.)
Thank You ABBA !
Jeromy C. Merchant
I want to end this letter by telling anyone that reads it that the true ability to change lies within Jesus Christ, what HE did on the cross at Calvary for you and your willingness to accept that. It is not too late and you are not too far gone. God loves you so much that He made a way for you. (John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.)
Permission to post was obtained from Jeromy C. Merchant on 9/14/2014
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