Kurt Skinner of Eaton Rapids, Michigan knows a lot about prison life, having spent three and a half years incarcerated in North Carolina for drug trafficking offenses. He sold pot, acid and cocaine and has the colorful stories to prove it. Once he managed a trip on a Greyhound bus, for instance, with drugs hidden in his boots. Today, Skinner credits his prison years for what has been perhaps his greatest blessing - finding God and the strength to turn his life around. Waiting to be sentenced, he happened to have a short conversation with another inmate, a conversation that "planted a seed" in his soul that eventually blossomed into a new way of living.
"Prison is a miserable life," Skinner said, "(but) I don't carry that with me (anymore)," adding that after giving his life to Christ, he began studying and working to help others. He's had a few "mysterious things" happen to him, too, in which he sees God's hand. For example, Skinner was once at a gas station when a woman drove in, came up to him and gave him a "stern message" about how he had to change his life. "You're not a stranger to God," the stranger told him before she drove off without buying any gas.
Today Skinner has finished a training course through New Directions, a local prison ministry, and spends a good chunk of his time volunteering there. He writes pen pal letters to prisoners all over the United States and dreams of one day starting a Christian reentry home for recently released inmates. He now has a stable family life with his wife, Danielle, and two young sons and has made the Eaton Rapids Wesleyan Church his home. "I'm at the most peace I've ever been in my life," he said. New Directions, Inc., located at Mount Hope Church in Delta Township, casts a wide net. Its director, Pastor Len Hill, trains outreach volunteers who visit prisons and jails to counsel inmates, something Skinner would also like to do someday.
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