Today I’m a pastor running a community safe residential re-entry program for sex offenders. We have grown from a fledgling pioneer in sex offender re-entry to a well-respected organization recognized as experts in sex offender residential re-entry. By God’s grace, none of our graduates have ever been accused of a new sexual offense. The privilege of serving the communities at large, these men, their families and victims as an ambassador for Christ continues to be an honor beyond words.
Things didn’t look this way for me 25 years ago. I had violated another human being and dishonored myself. I had allowed bottomless darkness to control my life and the lives of others. And then, somehow, a gift of grace opened a door leading out of that darkness and into the light.
This year has marked the 25th anniversary of my opening the gift of desperation and discovering that I could choose to change. New hope and relief over whelmed me when I heard that I’d made bad choices and could learn to make right choices in life and love — that the cancer that I had allowed to defile my character could be treated and contained. I saw that, in time, with radical honesty and hard work (and it was), my faculties could be renewed and restored. I would no longer need to be a slave to destructive behaviors. The Truth would and has set me free.
Equipped with tools from secular sex offender treatment and two years of Bible school, I established a new life with hope of a future. I believed then, as I do now, that children need the positive influence of both of their parents in their life. Reconciliation with my natural daughter (non-victim) was my goal. It fueled my fight to regain the ability to influence her life as only a father can. Despite restrictions imposed by the Court and meted out by Supervision, I pursued reconciliation. I kept at it. My posture to the Court was that if they were mandating treatment then they needed to validate treatment.
I’m proud to say that, while still under Supervision, I appeared Pro Se three times progressively asking the Court to restore my social rights and my relational rights with my daughter. Each time I received a measure of grace. First, the Court approved an Affidavit I crafted to disclose to families in our church my past choices, conviction and present status. Supervision told each family they’d be crazy to sign off on taking responsibility for their children’s well-being in my presence. Despite this warning, they all chose to believe in the ability for hearts and minds to be changed. The next two advances were related to restoring my positive influence in my little girl’s life. Rather than waiting to finish Treatment and Supervision and hoping for the best, I pursued the Court to be more responsible by utilizing the safety net of Treatment and Supervision in this process. Eventually, while still under Supervision, I regained the joy of unsupervised contact with my daughter. While walking out of the court room that day my PO told me I needed to go out and buy a lottery ticket. No need, I had won one of the most valuable prizes; restoration with my daughter. That was quite a day for me. I think I heard the angels singing.
But my heart broke for men who were serving a life sentence on revolving charges. I had been incarcerated for only a short time. But these guys clearly didn’t have much hope for change. There were no resources available as an alternative to returning to their old stomping grounds and familiar follies.
I wanted to help these men by providing re-entry housing. Fortunately as it turned out (given my own realities), the door was closed to helping the masses at that time. Instead I was led into mentoring men in groups and individually. Building on this experience over the years, I was eventually led to Texas where I was now ready to develop this community residential re-entry program for sex offenders. Serving these men in the midst of a society determined to make things as difficult as possible for them – and often for me – gives me a real sense of satisfaction and appreciation of the importance of second chances. I’ve learned that no matter how desperate things feel, we have the power to choose to set things right. And that knowledge has been a great gift.
Hi Jon. This is Terry and I have to say, where there is hope, there is life. This is a beautiful, moving story of redemption and reconciliation. I pray you will continue to touch the lives of as many people who are willing to hear the truth and realize there is life after Jail or Prison, even on a Sexual Offense Registry.
I am the mother of a forty six year old registrant and his original crime was back in the early nineties when he was eighteen. He has spent several years combined prison time for address reporting issues. The short periods of time in between the prison sentences that he has been out he has always been on community supervision. In Wa. State not reporting address changes, even if you are homeless, every time you spend the night in a different place is a Felony. With the point system the court has here because of so many violations over the years he gets maximum sentence of three years prison time AND three years added to his supervision time. The supervision time runs consecutively so each time you don’t complete it before going back to prison it just keeps adding up. He gets out AGAIN in a few weeks and we have moved here to WA from WI to give him a stable place to live for once since we applied twice in a two year period for an interstate compact for him to move to WI with us but was denied both times by Wisconsin. He is facing around Ten years on community supervision now with it all added up. VERY unfair system. It has not only affected his life tremendously but his two daughters, his mom and dad and eighty seven year old grandmother have all went through hell and a lot of sadness about how one big mistake at eighteen has cost him his entire future. The laws in Wa need to change to give people a chance for life without a crime damaging your life for the rest of your life. We have found very little compassion in this state or Wi. (If they had allowed him in he would have had to wear an ankle bracelet FOR LIFE!!). We are truly tired and disgusted with our twenty five year struggle with the cruel laws they inflict on people on the registry. Keep up the fight and stay positive!!
Hello, I believe that you are doing a great job and I’m interested in meeting with you some how. I been wanting to start a program that is geared towards the population of sex offenders. I live in Wilmington, Delaware and I’m also on the registry and in the process of a pardon. I also volunteer for D.A.R.S.O.L. The shelters have stop allowing registrants to stay in their shelters and a lot of them have no where to go and of course you know what happens, they may run the risk of being locked up. I’m a firm believer that we deserve a chance the ones that are not repeat offenders. It will be really great if you can contact me and maybe we can exchange some information that would help me in the right direction.??
Where do all of you pastor? Here is a thought for all clergy on the registry: What if we formed a virtual church for sex offenders using Zoom? Paul saw a great door open for him to reach the Gentiles. With almost one million of us now on the registry, don’t we have an open door before who needs God’s love and our love, compassion, forgiveness, and support?
I absolutely appreciate and find strength in your story. I applaud your spirit and willingness to be a light in the darkness. I, too, was a repeat offender and my offenses took place before any registry laws took root in Minnesota and Wisconsin. However, because I was still on supervision in Minnesota’s case, Wisconsin retroactively placed me on their list for life when they enacted registry laws in the late 90’s. I was aghast at how my ‘sentencing’ could change after the fact, but as is the case all around our country, who will fight for you in these cases.
Today, some 25 years later I’m clear of any supervision, parole, etc., but must still receive a visit from my local PD for a picture and annually fill out a registry form for Wisconsin, though I’ve lived in Minnesota for 30 years.
I’ve overcome employment (hiring) issues and now make a good living doing what I love and continue to live the program I started nearly 30 years ago.
Keep fighting the good fight sir!
I would like to connect with you. I am a pastor also and I believe you could give me and my group practical advice. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been on the registry going on 6 years now, and have also recently considered becoming a Pastor. Unfortunately, with this one and only offense on my record, I can’t even lock a job at McDonald’s. Businesses don’t even see what offense got me on the registry, but rather THAT I am on it, they deny me. It’s an uphill battle I face daily. I really don’t know how I’m going to get out of this rutt of hoping to find a job, or even one that will pay the bills and allow me to be financially stable.
Hi Jon, We have a residential program for lifers in Los Angeles called The Francisco Homes. Of our 85 residents at least 20 have sex offenses. We are not State funded. Our residents pay the majority of the cost of housing while donations make up the rest. Keep up the good work. Blessings my friend.
Hi Jon, thank you for your post. I am the Mother of a registrant in TN, my son was 19 when he was incarcerated and came home last week, he is now 23 and so happy to be home and so eager to start building his life, but it seems almost like the law wants him to fail so he will end up incarcerated again. I had moved so he could live with me when he comes home and it turns out the tip of my property is only 990 ft instead of required 1,000 ft away from the tip of a man’s property that allows people to tour a cave on his land so they are saying his land is a park. So instead we had to find alternate housing, which hasn’t been easy. I truly thought this nightmare was ending when he came home but I fear that prison was probably easier than the struggle he is about to face. I try to stay positive and tell him that he can accomplish anything he sets his mind to but in private I cry at the many ways this list is unfair and setting him up for failure.
Jon, thank you for your courageous post. I was a former pastor who was addicted to pornography. As my addiction progressed, I eventually broke every barrier I envisioned (with the exception of being sexual with someone in my congregation thank God) and was arrested. That was 2009. Ten years later and after a devastating relapse, five of which were spent in prison, I can say that while life is difficult, I wake most mornings grateful to God for another day to breath and make a living amends to my family, friends, and community.
Since I have been home, I have focused on working my recovery, not reoffending, and helping others experience healing from addiction to compulsive sexual behaviors. While in prison I worked on a personal mission statement which I read regularly to reset my moral, spiritual, and ethical compass – My mission is to be be an honorable man and restore my spiritual legacy by being a blessing to my family, friends, and community. It reminds me to live on purpose and helps me in making choices consistent with who I am deep down in side.
In July of last year I became a certified recovery coach because I want to help impaired clergy who struggle with these issues BEFORE they offend. In January I started my recovery coaching practice and am caring the message to pastors who are locked in a prison of shame and fear. I desire to provide confidential, hope based coaching to clergy who have nowhere to turn for fear of exposure and losing their jobs, families, and joy. It is slow going but I know this is my life calling and work.
I pray that God continues to work in you and through you my brother! Thanks for having the courage to share your story!
Shane, how does one become a certified recovery coach? My son is helping young men, which has included some pastors, who are struggling with a port addiction. But he does it alone and only shares with these men the consequences of his addiction. I have wondered if there is support and training for this type of ministry, and he has said many times he wishes he had had someone who could have helped him the way he helps those caught in the snare.
I must say that I just came across this and after reading all the articles, tears are in my eye making harder and harder to continue to read. But I made it to the end. I am so proud of each and every person who has and is going through this fight. As it has already been stated, God id in control, we just need to see the path that he wants us to take, and to stay the course. I to like many of the writers here am a registered citizen, I got involved with being a state representative for NARSOL, and to help others like me. I had a wake up calling from the LORD while I was in jail waiting to settle my case. It was one night that I remember reading the bible with several guys in our unit (we were separated from the general population) we started a bible group in our unit and it went from just two of us to six of us (max unit population was 9) this was seen by the staff and we were watched all the time, this turned into a group meeting with an outside resource, which still to this day meets with men from this unit. But back to my calling, we had been reading about Paul or Saul at the time and he going around and killing those that he wanted, and his run in with the Lord ( light shinning down on him) well that night I was sleeping and at about 1:30 in the morning I was woke up to my name being called, I thought it was one of the guards on the intercom, so I answered and got no response, i went back to sleep, and a short time later was again woke up by a male voice calling my name, again i thought it was the guards and it was not, this time though the story of Saul came to mind. I again went back to sleep and yes for the third time I was a woke to my name being called out, this time all I did was say, “Lord, If that is you I here you and understand” at that moment I had a flushing feeling go over my body from Head to toe, still to this day every time i tell this story, I have that feeling. This was the Lord calling me to service. To which I have served all he has put in front of me, even those that meant me harm have fled. I am great full for the Grace, Mercy and faith the Lord has placed on me. He has helped me in other ways as well, I have a IT job and make more then most make in a two week check in as little as a day or two, sometimes hours. I continue to pray and that the Lord for what he has done, and to pass on what he has taught me. I’m also thankful that he put me in a therapy program that seen me for me, and not the monster so many “treatment programs see their clients as. I hope this has been helpful to just one person, just keep passing on the goodness that has been given, we / I was given mercy, I then must also be merciful to others. thank you and God bless each and every reader of this.
This week, I was blessed to have a long conversation with Jon as he shared just a small piece of his testimony. I’ve been on the registry since 2014, and felt quite defeated lately in my efforts to contribute to others using my talents. Jon reminded me that there is bondage in the negativity and fear of being a registered person. He encouraged me to stand strong and do what I’m led to do come what may. As he said, what more can they do to me, Im already on the registry. So long as I do not break the law, there is nothing else that they can do. Humiliate me, that ship sailed long ago, and I’ve learned to stand against that storm through many opportunities to practice. Jons enthusiasm is infectious. It made me want to pull up stakes, pack grandma into the car, and go out and join him. I am feeling so blessed this morning from his strong reminder that God is in control, and I should remember that. So much good advice that I already knew, but let slip from my awareness in the daily battle of being a registered citizen. Today is day 1 of getting back into the saddle and moving forward with vigor and purpose. Thank you Pastor Jon!
Hello everyone. I hope my comment doesn’t offend anyone.Im not someone whos going through a registration problem but Im a mother of a 19 year old who has just been found guilty and is facing consequences of registration. Before all of this I personally have always disagreed witn this law that takes away human rights. Ive read heard and know stories of lives destroyed due to this. Only our Heavenly Father is the master of our lives. I never thought i would be going through this with my son . The hardest thing is the story behind it. The laws are unfair. And ok… Consequences are nedded i understand.. But registration is cruel. Ive read all of the comments and i sit here CRYING… Reading Pastors testimony and GOD’s calling regardless of it all…. There’s ALWAYS HOPE and GOD remains FAITHFUL.
Remember most of all Veronica, your son isn’t a different person just because of this conviction. Thank God we are all much more significant that just being the worst thing we have done. In the enormity of his life past and to come, this is simply one thing amoung many. Once he passes through the gauntlet, he can be restored to a life that will be better informed. Help him find a way to make meaning out if this experience that will launch him into a stronger tomorrow. It can be done. And with a sting mother, he will find encouragement. Chuck
Hello Chuck. Thank You for your words of encouragement. I must say ..GOD has been FAITHFUL. My son is serving his time and is doing better than i expected.. He stands strong Trusting and Believing God’s plans for his life are greater than the circumstances. He has realized who he is in Christ and how God’s CREATED him to be Greatness through the pain and battle. My son loves music He plays instruments and sings….. So were he is now there is a music room were he has the opportunity to play drums piano and guitar and he is writing songs. Singing and praising our heavenly father. I share this not to brag about my Son.But to GIVE GOD ALL THE HONOR.HE IS FAITHFUL. Chuck God has so much for u also CONTINUE to walk in his Glory. He is above it all. Trust the process.
Jon C., THANK YOU for providing your story and that you have chosen The Ministry, I am in Calif., and wish your program you cover was here, there are SO MANY more hearts/lives to be attended to here in one of THE Most populated States and lost souls and others that may just ‘give up hope’ and not see the light and take drastic turns, for the worse. And may take their own. Hopefully, with His Will, your calling will be brought here to this State in ends. You must see the Netflix show called “13 Reasons Why” reflecting cruel and sad self inflictment and others pretending to be the GP and the odd h.s. students as RC’s taking the crap for who they are and continual punishment for their past. Lessons to be learned even though it is the end of their H.S. years on alot on campus where they are tormented and and more than 1 takes their own life away, even though younger aged, CP is more common as it was on campus there, a faux location filmed in L.A. and the Bay Area. The whole point is that even from earlier age, we have offenders in the RC world and tougher for them to understand and accept post mortem (jail/prison sentencing)with their New Lives ahead that seems hopeless as rules go beyond living a convict life post Probation/Parole as an new RC(S.O.).
That we live in a society that does NOT forgive and wants continual punishement and the labeling of all the same (crimes in the S.O. category) and treated the same after doing there time and denied housing, employment and living in the Tech World today, using limited use of social media attempting to a sense of normality where many after Prob/Par., canNOT use or better utlize apps, internet and other areas to reconnect with family and friends when jobs are scarce for RC’s. The folks here Jon C. need help/Counseling
from non-gov point to not be re-thrown back into the system where they will want the assistance alike your program. He Blesses you for your new road to enlightenment and encouragement to the RC’s out there, and may your road be more non-eventful as you are guided to help these men and women. Kudos to you Jon C. thank you for your story and pic of a calming face to put a name to as others fear to be found nor want any PICS let alone the Registry again agonizing them and their loved ones anymore with pics on the interent/W.W.W. Peace
Stop identifying us a sex offenders, as if we continue to behave in this criminal manner! I’ve been placed on a civil registry for citizens who have offended sexually – but I am not a sex offender – I am a human being, loved and respected by people who know me better than you. How would you like for people to identify you every single day as a “Despicable Old Fart.” I could blog about how you’re such a wonderful Despicable Old Fart doing a great civic duty for those on civil registries. Our I could ask for you to join my movement for rehabilitating Despicable Old Farts like you.
How about saying things like:
for those who sexually offended in the past;
men and women on the civil registry; or
Michael, thank you for your comments. NARSOL itself does try to avoid using the term “sex offender” as much as possible. The people telling their stories here, however, have their own voices and will from time to time end up using the term. If we were to make that many edits, the story would no longer belong to them. We hope you understand.
This is an awesome example of just how church can help. I have a porn conviction from 2003. I started attending Celebrate Recovery in 2007 and have to say I recommend it highly. I now spend my time counseling other guys (usually married and the wife has found porn- their choice is, leave the porn or the wife.)
My sexual addiction is just like any other addiction. With the right treatment and support, you can overcome it. I’ve given my testimony at CR all over SC and am met with nothing but kind support.
Find a CR in your area and give it a try!!
I lived in sc up until 2017
I never heard of you.
I came out of prison in March 2012 and by May I was in an I.T. course. Fast forward to 2017. I still can’t get ANY computer-related jobs. Do you have an I.T. career?
Congratulations on finding your calling. When I was in jail (internet chat with a detective), God told me there was a need for housing for felons, and particularly, sex offenders. After two years renting from a former gunnery Sargent (all he asked for was the truth at all times (and rent on-time)), I was led to buy a house in the area. I was blessed to have financial resources though everything else had either been taken away or thrown away. In the 7 years I owned that house, I had over 20 men and women come through. Several went on to productive lives.
Two pieces of advice: 1) At the first opportunity, be honest and disclose your past, your current situation and your goals with your Preacher and the elders. Do the same with your immediate neighbors and your immediate boss.
2) Forgive yourself. Jesus did. I know there are other ways to “success” in this world, but a Bible-teaching church played an important role in helping me regain my sanity and my sense of self-worth. If the first church does not extend a welcome to you, move to the next one. It’s not the sign over the door which is important, it’s the Spirit within. I attend a men’s Bible study at a church which requires me to be escorted per an approved/signed procedure in order to be on their grounds. It’s a small inconvenience. We do what we have to do and subjugate our pride. And that’s OK
Sure, I am still under-employed, but I have re-married and my daughters have started talking to me again. Her children are slowly coming around as they think/believe I’m out to con their mom and take her for everything she’s got. I doubt there are any “easy” states for an RSO, but I’m not going to let that stop me from being satisfied with my life.
Finally, There really ought to be a way to get off the dang registry. I’ve gotten myself on the Violent list with the associated predator label and there is no way off. I have zero credibility and now I get to have a big scarlet letter on my passport. I don’t know that I’ll even renew it when the Feds order me to allow it to be confiscated and to send it back to them. Papers Please? Me-> I have no papers. Go ahead and take me in.
I live in New Hampshire. I was born here and will die here or in Vermont. The State is easy to live in. When I got out of prison I was taken to a halfway house. From there I found a rent near downtown. I lived there almost 5 years with my P.O. visiting me maybe 3 times out of that period. Just once in my apt. I found a job in a reman facility and worked there for the next 12 years. No one was worried about me being a sex offender seeing there was many of them working there.
I have since moved to a better place and all I do is go to the Police station and sign in for the next three months of freedom. This State is probably one of the easiest States to get released in. I guess most people don’t like the idea of moving here because of the winters. But if you can get past that hurdle it’s really easy going. I believe that in Vermont it is a yearly registration.
I am the wife of a sex offender. I led him to Jesus Christ. We are now married and have a baby. He is a reformed changed man and loves me and our child. We recently moved to Northwest,AR and have had harassment here. I’d like to know what I can do to help him. He works his butt off, leaves everyone alone, is very likeable but some treat him as less than human. I need to know his rights. I’d like to start a church for sex offenders. They certainly aren’t welcome there either.
I just joined this forum and saw your comment. Sorry I am a year late. I too am married to a great man whom has been given the title as a sex offender. I wold love to talk to you and I wish you and your family well.
Thank god there are women, wives, such as you in this world! Keep fighting for your husbands! Slowly,in God’s time, the world will listen to the truth and not just forget and punish certain individuals and groups.
Hi Rachel, I’m really late in replying. It’s already 2020. My son is incarcerated for sex offense. He was charged with 3 felonies and 2 misdemeanors! Hopefully some of these charges will be dropped. He has 3 biological kids & 1 he was raising as his own. His youngest little girl will be 2 this year & the little boy is going on 5 & is autistic. My son was a great dad. He said he has to sometimes go back to his cell so no one will see him cry. He’s really sensitive. Anyway when he was arrested the end of February this year the mother of the 2 little ones posted every article about his arrest on her Facebook page! The article made him sound like a monster! He’s not! I had to deactivate his account & block her on Facebook so I didn’t have to see any of it. He just started to get his life on track, later in years he’s 42. He was actually an adjunct professor! Now that will never happen again. It’s terrible the way people judge others.
I’m so glad you lead him to Jesus. My son is getting there. He was baptized a few weeks before his arrest.
With the current conditions visits are cancelled as are courts. Until the restrictions are lifted we talk on the phone & write. My sister, mother & a couple of his friends are very supportive. My church family prays for him. God will get us all through this!!
What an encouraging story. I’m glad to hear there’s some success out there in this endeavor! I tried to get into “secular” therapy in order to treat offenders of all types, but every Graduate program I applied to denied or rescinded any offers when I disclosed my status. I begrudgingly gave up on that dream and am instead pursuing my original course (before the offense) in IT. It’s so easy to give up, but we have to keep fighting and proving that we are human beings.
Hey Jon.. you know they say good things come to those who wait. We all have our troubles in life. Sure I am on the sex offender registry as a lot of others but the thing is we are all created equal but its always nice to see a measure of faith in one’s heart to reach out to others in need. Now a lot of this sex offender hoopla will be over soon and those who persevere in good ways will be blessed. Helping others is always good.
I know that it seems uncanny to talk at times about spiritual things but if one can’t understand spiritual things how can they understand carnal things and the right things to do to make things right not only for ourselves but for others. Oh and by the way prayer helps a lot also.
I wish the courts will finally stop punishing me..its been 30yrs and i am tired
Joseph, I understand your frustration, after so many years! Unless you are still on supervision, though, the courts aren’t punishing you. I doubt they even put you on the registry… unless you are from CA or one of those early states? But either way, we know registration IS punishment, and some of the challenges out there (PA most recently, and OK and MD) have also declared registration to be punitive. We just have to keep fighting!
Sending love and a big hug
I’m 79,my crime happened in 95. I did a total of 16 years in DOC. I also am TIRED. They tell me I’m free. I’m not quite sure of the definition of free. Actually, it’s more like free with shackles. The sentencing judge never gave me a life sentence. I did what the courts subscribed so leave me alone.