Dear Duane Gibbs & PFA Staff,
As a 58-year-old Native Ojibway Lifer, I am currently serving 4½ year sentence on parole violation and for domestic assault against my wife on November 18th, 2013. This was my second marriage ending in divorce. I had lost hope in even having any lasting, meaningful relationships with anyone; particularly where my background has been in and out of foster homes since age 4. Coming from an alcoholic and broken family, I longed for a return to live with my parents of origin. The pain of separation was never addressed as I experienced the disappearance of mother and father left behind on the Bois Forte Indian Reservation situated in Northern, MN. Through Catholic Church in Grand Rapids, MN there I attended catholic grade school 1-6 and became an altar boy. The Catholic nuns physically beat us students including our beloved 2nd grade boy with server Muscular Dystrophy. I quit serving the church as an altar boy because the priests were getting drunk from the wine. I started drinking at age 7 only to toughen up and harden my broken heart attempting to protect it from broken relationships. I viewed myself as a victim of racist society allowing my sin nature to distort my thinking to the extreme of executing witnesses in my crimes. At age 21, I broke into a home and killed the owner of the house. Since that horrible crime, I have spent over half of my life- over 29 years- in prison. I have low self-esteem, a hardened heart and have worshipped false idols in my failed attempts at relationships.
I joined Prison Fellowship Academy (FPA) in April 2017. I learned that I have a “stoney heart” callused by years of unforgivenesss and practicing my own will being done void of any discernment. as I take notes of the daily biblical instruction, prayer and music offered by PFA staff, I am able to identify, challenge and replace all or most of my strong holds that cause me to return to prison. Strong holds that can be identified as core beliefs.
Through testimonies and individual struggles shared by PFA staff, authentic men facilitators, and other PFA volunteers, I have gained renewed hope in believing that I can change and over come my lifestyle of crime, drug and alcohol abuse and broken relationships. For example, many PFA staff and volunteers have been married for 12-52 years and invest eternally into their families.
Finally, I am in a good place by the grace of God! every day that I spend in the PFA program, I feel safe, secure and provided with an atmosphere conductive to change.
Thank you and bless you beyond measure MN PFA staff, security, and volunteers.
(Class 52 MNPFA)