Persons of Peace are individuals whose lives are transformed for the better in the midst of hard life events and circumstances. Oftentimes stuck or grief-stricken, they are inspired by individuals who resemble Jesus, causing them to hunger for what they find valuable in that person (1). In turn, their lives start to change as they lean into their newfound faith and find God through the love of another.
While incarcerated, many men and women become open to the gospel. As hurting people in the midst of hopelessness, a petri dish is created. This is where growth and cultivation are made possible.
Three persons of Peace in Clare County are Ron, Brett, and Amanda. Through life events and difficult circumstances, God caught their attention. Through Chaplain Bill and volunteers who lead Celebrate Recovery in the jail, they were drawn to something different from what they formerly knew.
Here are their stories.
Ron grew up with a mother who was a believer but a father who wasn’t. As a child, he had some traumatic experiences which caused him to become violent. He went off to work in the oil fields where he lived a wild life. Now he describes this time as a time of chaos, where he had many children and ended up with many broken families. For many years, Ron ran an 8-county drug and theft ring. After a couple stints in jail, almost four years ago Ron found a faith that led him to build a relationship with Chaplain Bill of Clare County. He got deeply involved in Celebrate Recovery where he started to deal with his anger, dysfunction, and addictions.
Growing up in a dysfunctional home, Brett struggled with violence and healthy relationships. At the age of 16, he started smoking weed and then trying harder drugs. At 21, Brett lost his brother in a house fire and blamed himself for the tragedy. This drove him into deeper addiction. “I’ve tried everything,” he said. Labeled a menace to society, with 6 counts of cocaine possession, Brett advocated for himself. He was able to go to rehab and soon after he completed his GED in 2021. He was offered a job through someone who decided to take a chance on him. The path hasn’t been clear cut. He has had his slip-ups, but each time he found himself further along on his path to recovery. He is deeply connected to Celebrate Recovery and has had success over the past two years in maintaining sobriety.
Amanda started her childhood with two parents in active recovery from alcoholism. However, around the age of 7, they both relapsed. She went from knowing nothing about alcoholism to being lost in the wake of her parents’ relapse. With her life upside down, she found herself in foster care. At the age of 12, she started drinking off and on. She says, “Before I knew it, I spent 17 years in active addiction – to alcohol, pills, whatever I could get my hands on.” On July 28, 2021 she found herself in the Clare County Jail. She had obtained her 3rd DUI. Due to COVID, there were limited resources in the jail, but Amanda reached out to Chaplain Bill. “He helped clear my mind. He brought me resources, like a Bible and packets to work through.” Amanda joined the program through recovery court and graduated on May 11 of this year!
Three individuals. Three roads to recovery. Three persons who have experienced difficult life circumstances. Three persons whose lives have been transformed. Three persons who are now active contributors to their community. Each one – a Person of Peace.
Ron has obtained custody of 7 of his 8 children. He continues to fight for the final one. Ron is working to be allowed back into the jail. However, this time it will be with the Celebrate Recovery group to talk with the men who find themselves in the place he once was. Ron is a Person of Peace.
Brett says, “I spent 24 years in active addiction. Now I’ve had friends follow me into my journey of recovery.” At the age of 40, Brett was accepted into college. He has maintained a 3.4 GPA and will be graduating with a certificate in automotive diesel services. His dream is to eventually open his own shop, but for today he is happy where he is. Brett is a Person of Peace.
Amanda is mother to two beautiful daughters. Her boyfriend is also in recovery and they are doing well. Amanda is now the assistant case manager in the Clare county recovery court. She assists individuals with resources and guides them in taking the steps they need to take in order to continue on a path that she had to walk herself. Amanda is a Person of Peace.
We are grateful for the individuals in Clare county who haven’t given up on Ron, Brett, Amanda, and others like them. Sometimes when we least know it, Persons of Peace are being developed. This is the story of three of them who are now in their community developing others.
1. Podcast: Finding Persons of Peace by Phil Alessi