Sermon at Finding Life Church Omaha
Dishonor Book, One Year Later
It’s been a year since the launch of my book, Dishonor and I can’t believe how fast time has flown by. The year started out crazy and is finally slowing down.
So, what’s happened since Dishonor came out?
First, I would like to say that I feel blessed by everyone I’ve come in contact with over the past five years. This goes for both my friends-in-real-life and my internet friends. During the writing, publishing and launch of the book, I received an unbelievable amount of encouragement and support.
I’ve had the awesome opportunity to be either featured or interviewed on many podcasts. Each host graciously allowed me to speak about my story to their audience.
In the same vein, Dishonor was featured on quite a few blog posts as well as me being able to guest post on a few.
Omaha World Herald Article
A reporter from the Omaha World Herald wrote an article about my book. I was blown away by how many people read the paper. Many of the clients that come to the Cosmetology school where I work, brought me copies of the article. When sharing my story with people, I was able to give those copies away.
The Nebraska Living Times newspaper also interviewed me about the book.
For the first time in my life, I preached a sermon. My home church invited me to tell my story. It was awesome to be able to share my testimony with the people that I worship with every Sunday.
My parent’s church invited me to speak as well. It was a little different telling my story in front of my parents. The pastor gave a copy of my book to everyone who attended that day.
I got to speak to a men’s group at nearby church, which was awesome! Everyone was so kind and welcoming. There was a police officer in the crowd which was interesting. He wanted to talk speak to me after I was finished. He had some questions about dealing with arresting people and dealing with the guilt of potentially ruining someone’s life. A different perspective that I never considered.
A local Christian school asked me to speak during their chapel services. There were three groups broken up by age. For the youngest group, I had my wife, who is a Children’s Ministry Director, tailor my speech to the younger crowd. Two copies of my book are now in the school library.
Letters From Students
A couple weeks later, I received a bunch of thank you letters from many of the students with some touching stories. Hopefully, my speech was memorable enough to deter some of the bad choices available to these kids, as they navigate life.
I was invited by Heartland Men of Faith, to speak at a prayer breakfast. A group of guys from the Open Door Mission also attended. Afterward, several of the men came up to me to share their personal struggles with me. It was at this time it clicked with me that sharing your brokenness with others, allows people who are struggling to know that they are not alone. It was at this event, that I was invited to speak at Victory Boxing Club.
Victory Boxing was started in Omaha by an formerly incarcerated man. After changing his life around, he decided to create a community center. Local youth can spend time learning to box, hang out and also hear a messages about Jesus. It was an honor to be invited.
KCRO Radio Interview
A pastor and local radio show host had me on his segment which was a pretty cool experience. We talked about his topic of the day and then I was able to discuss my testimony and book.
A youth group in Blair, NE requested me to come speak at their church. To date it is the largest crowd I’ve spoken to, at about 100 students and parents. The most touching moment was when a girl came up to me at the end. She told me, her father had been kicked out of the military some time ago. She knew it bothered him, but had a better understanding of how much after hearing me talk. I shared about my struggle with guilt from having a dishonorable discharge and how God’s forgiveness has set me free. I sent a copy of my book to her with the hope that her father might read it.
My wife’s uncle who is a lawyer and public defender had me come out to North Platte, NE where he lives and works. Bob has been a huge supporter of my book and I believe it’s because of his line of work. He sees people getting into trouble all the time and they need to know that, life is not over after being arrested. He set up three speaking engagements for me in one day.
The first was his Kiwanis club, which was a great group of people. They asked some pretty interesting questions after my speech.
The third was to drug court which is a program for adult drug offenders to have their record cleared after completing this program. The interesting part about this group was, as I was sharing my story, you could see in their eyes that they connected with what I was saying. It was different from the other talks. There was a mutual understanding because we had the same struggle and failures. It was awesome for God to use me and my mess to provide hope to them. For them to see that there is life after addiction and conviction.
At the Bookworm in Omaha, I attended a live book signing, because I have some copies on consignment there. An older couple came in with a copy for me to sign. They wanted to give it to their grandson, who struggles with addiction.
I also atteded a local author day at the Council Bluffs library, where I donated a copy to their inventory.
At the Millard library, I spoke to a small group of people about my story. One of the library employees ordered a copy for their inventory. A couple of the clients from my work came to hear me speak.
I feel so honored to have met many people, in person and on-line who have told me that my story made a difference in their lives.
It’s been so cool to reconnected with many of the people in in the book and from my past to let them know that I wrote our story. The last time I saw most of them, I was in pretty bad shape. Seeing pictures of some of them holding a copy of Dishonor makes me feel like I can impact them differently than our last time together.
Books to Inmates
There are copies of Dishonor that have been placed in a few libraries across the nation. However, I’m most excited about the copies that have been sent to many jails and prisons. Through the donations of some generous individuals, funds are available to ship books directly to incarcerated family members or friends.
Fresh Hope for Living Free
The most recent development is the opportunity to co-facilitate a ministry. It is a pilot program based off an organization called Fresh Hope. Originally designed to be a faith based, peer led, mental health support group. Because of its success, we are applying the same principals to helping recently released inmates not only stay out of jail or prison, but to thrive in spite of a conviction.
One last moment that I want to share with you. After being in contact with the Special Agent who arrested me in 1990, I met with him for coffee while on vacation. The last time I saw him, he was leaving the court room after testifying in my behalf. It was surreal sitting across the table with the man who hunted me down for almost a year. However, it is clear to both of us, that God used him to save my life. We had a great visit and will continue to stay in contact. He asked me to Skype in and be interviewed by some of his criminal justice students that he teaches.
I never imagined me telling my story over the years would turn into this. I never expected for God to use my messy past this way. It is crazy to think that your deepest, darkest moments in life can be taken by God and turned into a light for others to find their way to Him. It has been an honor to serve this way.
Truth be told, I still struggle with issues from my past. Sharing my history and seeing God work makes it easier. I know, that I no longer have to be defined by my past. Please know, that no matter what you have experienced or suffered through, God can use your mess for His message and your story for His glory. With being rooted in His truth and His promises, you will experience healing and freedom along the way.
I never thought telling my story would lead to this.
If you have an incarcerated friend or family member and want me to send a copy of Dishonor to them, contact me through social media.
or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are local and would like me to speak to your group, please contact me through any of the above links.
Bloggers and pod-casters, it would be an honor to share my story with your tribe.
If you have read Dishonor and haven’t left a review on Amazon, it’s not too late. Here is the link to leave a review. Thank you in advance.