FROM PRISON TO THE PULPIT PART I

THIS IS AN UNUSUAL TITLE FOR A TESTIMONY, BUT I’VE LIVED AN UNUSUAL LIFE.

MY NAME IS CHARLES SELLERS, FORMALLY KNOWN AS C.A. SELLERS.

BEING A SHARECROPPER’S SON, AND IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT A SHARECROPER IS, IT IS TAKING CARE OF ANOTHER PERSON’S LAND. YOU CAN LIVE THERE AND PLANT FOOD ON THAT PROPERTY.

IN OTHER WORDS, MY FAMILY WAS POVERTY STRICKEN.

MY DAD LEFT MY MOM WITH 6 CHILDREN, WHEN I WAS 4 YEARS OLD. SO ME AND MY SIBLINGS HAD NOTHING. WE HAD NO CHRISTMAS PRESENTS, NO BIRTHDAY PARTIES; NOTHING NORMAL CHILDREN ENJOYED. EVEN OUR CLOTHES WERE HAND-ME-DOWNS.

IT WASN’T MY MOM’S FAULT, IT WASN’T MY FAULT; IT’S JUST THE WAY IT WAS.

PROBABLY, IF THERE WAS ANYONE TO BLAME, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN MY DAD.

BUT THAT IS A DIFFERENT STORY WITHIN ITSELF.

MY DAD DIED WHEN I WAS 9 YEARS OLD. MY MOM HAD HIS BODY BROUGHT HOME. WHILE HE LAID IN HIS COFFIN IN OUR LIVING ROOM, I WAS AT MY FRIEND’S HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET, AND STOLE SOME MONEY THAT WAS LAYING ON HIS AUNT’S DRESSER.

AT THAT MOMENT, I STARTED A LIFE OF STEALING.

OVER THE YEARS, I’VE STOLEN EVERYTHING FROM BICYCLES TO ROBBING BANKS. I SPENT MOST OF MY LIFE LOCKED UP.

I’VE DONE TIME IN 8 FEDERAL INSTITUTIONS. SOME, LIKE TERR HUNTA, ATLANTA FEDERAL PENN., LEWISBURG FEDERAL PENN., ASHLAND KENTUCKY CORRECTIONAL INST., PETERSBURG VIRGINIA FEDERAL FORMITORY, TALAHASSIE (FLORIDA) CORRECTIONAL INST., LOUIVILLE KENTUCKY CORRECTIONAL INST.

ALSO, I’VE DONE TIME IN 7 STATE INSTITUTIONS, STARTING AT HOMESVIEW TO PERRY CORRECTIONAL INST., AND SEVERAL MORE.

I REMEMBER AND INCIDENT WHEN I BROKE IN A SCHOOL AND THE POLICE SHOWED UP. I CLIMBED OUT A WINDOW, AND WAS RUNNING ACROSS THE ROOF. THE ROOF RAN OUT AND I DROPPED DOWN 2 STORIES TO THE GROUND, ROLLED, AND KEPT ON RUNNING. FOR THIS ONE, I NEVER GOT CAUGHT.

BY LOOKING OVER THIS EVENT AND MANY MORE IN MY LIFE, I NOW REALIZE, GOD HAD HIS HAND ON ME.

I’VE BEEN SHOT; I WOKE-UP OUT OF A THREE DAY COMA BY FOOD POISONING, AND FOUND MY LIVE-IN GIRL FRIEND WAS DEAD. THE DOCTORS SAID IT WAS NATURAL CAUSES, BUT I BELIEVE SHE ALSO HAD FOOD POISONING.

AS MY LIFE PROGRESSED, I FOUND MYSELF DOING THINGS I THOUGHT I WOULD NEVER DO: LIKE SHOOTING DRUGS IN MY VEINS, UNTIL I DESTROYED EVERY VISIBLE VEIN IN MY BODY; AND TAKING UP A GUN AND ROBBING BANKS IN BROAD DAYLIGHT. THIS WAS A LONG WAY FROM STEALING BICYCLES AS A CHILD.

I GUESS YOU COULD SAY I WAS NOW IN THE BIG TIME: SELLING DRUGS, ROBBING BANKS, BUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS LIFE STYLE TOOK ME FURTHER THAN I WANTED OR PLANNED TO GO, AND COST ME MORE THAT I WANTED TO PAY. YOU SEE, THE COST WAS MY FREEDOM, THE SUFFERING OF MY FAMILY, AND ALWAYS LOOSING EVERYTHING AGAIN AND AGAIN, AS I WOULD REPEATEDLY GET ARRESTED AND CONVICTED, AND SENT BACK TO PRISON.

A LIFE IN PRISON WASN’T EASY. WHEN I STARTED OUT IN REFORM SCHOOL, I HAD TO DIG 10 FOOT DITCHES, 18 INCHES WIDE, WITH A 10 FOOT SHOVEL. I KNOW YOU PROBABLY HAVE NEVER SEEN A 10 FOOT SHOVEL, BUT BELIEVE ME THEY HAD THEM.

I WAS 12 YEARS OLD AT THIS TIME.

WHEN I TURNED 15, I WAS SENT TO THE NATIONAL TRAINING SCHOOL IN WASHINGTON DC. BELIEVE ME, THIS PLACE WAS “HELL”. I WAS IN A FIGHT ALMOST EVERY DAY. WHEN THEY WOULD PUT ME IN LOCK-UP, THEY WOULD STRIP ME OF ALL MY CLOTHES, AND PUT ME IN  A SMALL TILED ROOM. THE TEMPERATURE IN THE ROOM WAS THE SAME AS IT WAS OUTSIDE. SO CAN YOU IMAGINE DECEMBER AND JANUARY? HOW COLD IT GETS IN DC? 

I COULDN’T TAKE MUCH MORE OF THIS PLACE, SO I PLANNED MY ESCAPE AND CARRIED THROUGH WITH IT. AS I CLIMBED THE FENCE SURROUNDING THE INSTITUTION, THEN BARBED WIRE BROKE AT THE TOP OF THE FENCE, AND I FEEL 10 FEET, AND JUST KNEW I WAS GOING TO GET CAUGHT, BUT NO ONE SAW ME BREAK OUT OF LINE GOING BACK TO THE DORM FROM THE GYM.

WE WERE SURROUNDED BY GUARDS. IT WAS AT NIGHT, BUT NOBODY SAW ME.

I MADE MY WAY TO A RAILROAD TRACK, AND THERE WAS A SLOW MOVING TRAIN. I JUST KNEW IT WOULD TAKE ME A LONG WAY FROM WHERE I WAS AT. I DIDN’T CARE WHERE IT WAS GOING AS LONG AS IT WOULD TAKE ME AWAY FROM THERE. WELL I JUMPED IN THE OPEN DOOR OF THE BOXCAR, AND THE TRAIN KEPT ROLLING FOR ABOUT 5 MINUTES; IT STOPPED, AND HERE CAME A TOW MOTOR IN THE BOXCAR I WAS IN, TAKING OUT PALLETS OF FREIGHT. I GOT OUT OF YTHE BOXCAR AND FOUND MYSELF IN DOWN TOWN DC.

TO SHORTEN THIS, I MADE IT BACK TO SOUTH CAROLINA, WENT TO CALIFORNIA, CAME BACK TO SC AND GOT CAUGHT. I WAS OUT FOR 2 MONTHS, AND THEY PUT ME BACK IN THE STRIPP-CELL AGAIN, NAKED. THEY THEN TRANSFERRED ME TO ASHLAND KENTUCKY.

THIS IS NOT THE END OF MY STORY: BUT HOW I CAME TO THE LORD, AND WHERE I AM NOW WILL BE IN “FROM PRISON TO THE PULPIT PART II”, COMING UP NEXT.

    

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