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All Things Are Possible With God

Andrew Michell
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Andrew Michell's personal testimony - Andrew shares about his journey to prison, how he met the Lord, and how the Lord got him out of prison and into a life of service. 

Presenter

Andrew Michell

Andrew Michell was saved by the amazing grace of God after being arrested at the age of 16 for seven kidnappings and armed robberies.

Recorded

  • May 15, 2015
    7:00 PM
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What I will be sharing tonight is just simply a story that I believe will be an inspiration and motivation to everyone here tonight and I always begin before I say anything else just ask God to bless what I'm about to say. Father in heaven as I open my mouth and as we open the Bible and as we focus on what the Bible can do in people's lives as we seek you earnestly with much prayer and seek in studying your word we ask you to bless each and every mind here tonight that we may more fully realize what you want to do in our lives we pray this in Jesus' name amen. I am a local here to Washington State to the Pierce County region I grew up here in the pew Wallach area and when I was growing up I was in a lot of trouble. I had been kicked out of every school that I went to by the ages of twelve to fifteen. There was no longer any bus I could get on all the bus drivers didn't want me. I had been kicked out of the different junior high schools and the last school I was in was in Spanaway like high school. The last time I was in class I remember the teacher became so angry she ran over to the wall picked up the phone and called Guess who guess who the teacher called. Yes she called the police and the police came into the high school into the classroom and took me away or it was the Pierce County Sheriff's So that was my last time in school and at this time in my life I was really bothered by something it was very simple my outlook on life is that we are all going to die I'm going to die you're going to die we're all going to die and I realized if we're all going to die at the end of life is death and it doesn't really matter how we have that would ask my teachers and counselors and parents why should I go to school so that you can get good grades and go to college but why do I want to go to college so that you can get a good job and do whatever you want in life but why so that you can make money and live however you want. I said Yeah but what happens in the end in the end of life what happens to all of us they said oh you're just going to die and I thought this is so dumb this is so foolish this is so meaningless of death is the end there's no purpose there is no meaning there. Nothing so it doesn't really matter how I live. Not only was I thinking that but I had two brothers. I had an older brother who died at the age of nine from cerebral palsy so he his whole life he could never talk or walk he lived his life in a wheelchair. He died at the age of nine I had a younger brother who started to make bad decisions as well and he committed suicide at the age of thirteen. So here I was looking Life's not fair we're all going to die. You're not even guaranteed to live a long life you could die when you're young you could die from sickness you could die from suicide there's no meaning it doesn't matter. And I decided at a very young age if we're only going to live one time we should live our lives for something one hundred percent. We should go all the way and so I decided since I'm always in trouble and I'm always getting kicked out of school I'm going to be one hundred percent bad. I want to be one hundred percent evil. I want to be as evil as you possibly can be because it doesn't really matter we're only going to live one time. So I started to get into a lot of trouble and I started to use as many drugs as I could use as drink as much alcohol as I could use it. It just didn't make sense to drink one drink or to use drugs just one time. The goal was to use as many drugs that you can. You became completely powerless over even your own self and you just couldn't function it just didn't matter just take all these drugs. And so but I realise that drugs are the problem with drugs is that you can get very very high and you feel very very good but then you come back down and the problem remains in fact it's worse when you come down off your high. So I realize drugs are kind of stupid and so I was really just a total mess. And at that time my parents and teachers and counselors they sent me to an institution called Fairfax. Have you heard of it. It's a mental institution. And I went there and I was only there one day as soon as they locked me in that room and said you're going to stay here we're going to tell you what to do and you're going to obey our orders. I attacked the staff and I said on the opening anyone in. I refused to comply and the next day they let me out of the mental institution and I realized at that point this was in the year one thousand nine hundred five I was fifteen years old. I realize you know what. It's one hundred percent. I'm good at as I can be and I started to commit crime after crime and it got worse and worse and just to give you one story to kind of illustrate what I was doing at a young age. It was nineteen ninety five and I had just turned sixteen years old and we went out one night and I was driving a car near my cock three men and these three men had guns and we drove out at night and we were driving just in the in the Puget Sound area Tacoma Puget Sound and we drove up to a store. The men got out of my car went into the store and they rob the store at gun point came out of the store jumped in my car and say go go go so I put on the gas. We drove down the road just two blocks came to another store. They walked into the store they were robbing the store and I was sitting out there in my car waiting you know that every second you know just things like eternity and it was taken a long time longer than usual and all of a sudden I heard the alarms and the three guys with guns they come running out of the store they jump in my car and they start yelling Go go go. And so I put a push on the gas I'm driving down the road just over here in Tacoma and in the distance I can see it coming towards me the red and blue lights guess who's coming. Again yes is the police here comes a place closer and closer and closer and as the police are approaching the men in my car they get the guns ready. We're going to shoot the police why there's no hope. It doesn't matter how we live we're all going to die. It doesn't matter. So here comes the police Closer closer closer and then the police drive by. They were looking for three men those police didn't know that those three men were in my car. So we kept on driving. I turned to the three men in my car said hey I have a great idea. They said what I said let's go rob another store. They said why. What are you crazy. I said no the police just went that way we can go this way the opposite way and go rob another store because there's no place so sure enough we drive down the road. Totally at random the first store we saw we stopped they went and robbed a store we were home that night was sixteen years old and we were doing this here in Pierce County Spanaway Pew all of lower Seattle Tacoma area three to four times a week. We didn't care just a few weeks after that we got this great idea. We thought you know what let's go rob some drug dealers because they have the money and the drugs and they have all this they have all the things that they want and we thought how are we going to rob some drug dealers and we thought we got a great idea. We thought what is the only day of the year. It's the only night of the year that someone in North America will open their door at night to a stranger with a mask on. What day is that Halloween so we dressed up in Halloween masks I I didn't dress up because I was a driver I was the getaway driver. We drove out that night we went Rob all these different drug dealers and and different people some people at random some people who are drug dealers and we after we robbed all these houses that we were crossing Pacific Avenue and all of a sudden a police car just out of nowhere materializing came and surrounded my car they arrested us and they took us to the jail and I remember at the age of sixteen years old they took us to this place just not even I think a mile from this church can you tell me what place that is. RAYMOND HALL Yes the juvenile detention center not even an I think a mile or two from this church and they took us over here and the next day the Pierce County sheriffs came and they cuffed us up and they said you're leaving and we said where we've gone. They said you're going to the adult county jail. This was the mid one nine hundred ninety S. when they decided to start trying violent juveniles as an adult. And there I was in the jail in the cell. They took us into the courtroom. I wore an orange prison their pumpkin suit. Maybe you've seen it on television or in an. Before I'm chained at the waist I'm chained at the ankles and I'm chained to the other prisoners next to me. We walk into the Superior Court we sit down and the judge starts reading off the charges for each person says Man you're here for driving while being intoxicated. One count and then the judge looked at me he said he said Andrew Michel. He said I know you're only sixteen years old but if you want to commit crimes like an adult We're going to treat you like an adult and I'm charging you with kidnapping in the first degree count one napping in the first degree count two. And he's looking at Rees reading all these charges and he reads all these charges of robbery robbery kidnapping kidnapping and after he gets finished the courtroom is silent and everyone's looking at this sixteen year old kid in the prisoner next to me. He turns and says he says you know how serious that is. I said what I said with two murder is the most serious crime that you can commit the second most serious crime is first degree kidnapping with two kidnappings you can go to prison for fifty years who just got charged with seven kidnappings an armed robberies in the first degree. He said you know what that means he said you're going to prison for life and you will die in the prison you will never be free. I had no idea that the decisions and the choices that we make when we are young can change our entire life decisions that we make when we are just young and growing up that not having Biblical wisdom. We make these bad decisions and it ruins our entire lives. These choices that we make in a moment or even one night because I was sixteen years old they put me in what's called solitary confinement so I was put in a cell all by myself twenty four hours a day seven days a week in a cell like this but just had one bunk there as you can see the picture on the slide. And there I sat there thinking you know what. I'm sixteen years old my life is done. I'm going to die in prison it's over. Over and just as an explanation. The reason that they charged us with the kidnapping charges is because many people think we tied up these people to come out of their homes put them in the trunk of our car and drove off into the jungle. But according to the law. Kidnapping can happen if I come into your home with a weapon and I say you cannot move from point A to Point B. that is by the law the technical legal definition of kidnapping and the police knew we were guilty of all these other past crimes and they wanted to give us as many charges as possible so they gave us seven kidnappings so that explains the kidnapping charges. So I'm sitting there in solitary I'm sitting there by myself just thinking you know my life is over it's done I'm never going to be free this is where I am where I will die. But a few days later a prisoner was walking by myself it was some gang member here from the hilltop and he looked in the window of my cell he said hey young man do you want something to read. I said sure so he opened the little slot on the door where they would slide in that really yummy prisoner food it's not really yummy but they would slide in the prisoner food while he gave me a book. Can anyone here tonight guess what book he gave me gave me the Bible and so he gives me the Bible and I look at the Bible and I think all the Bible the Bible. Yes I remember years ago a teacher in school he had showed a movie called The Ten Commandments but I was so high on drugs and my mind was such a fog and I was in so much trouble I can't remember anything from the movie except that the Ten Commandments are in the Bible. That's all I knew about the Bible so I ran up to the door to and I yelled to between the crack and the wall of the door. That's how we communicated so I yelled to the other prisoner I said hey the Bible that you gave me doesn't have the Ten Commandments and so he came to his cell door and he yelled back to me. Yeah it does I said where are they. He said Oh I think they're in the front somewhere. So he wasn't very helpful he didn't know what to do. I didn't know what to do so I took my Bible completely at random a lot of people do. This and I just opened it to the middle and I began reading the first thing that my eyes fell upon. Now can you guess the first thing I read in the Bible. I hope you have your Bible with you if you have one near you pick it up where you can look in your friend's Bible. I opened it to Proverbs Chapter one Proverbs Chapter one and proverbs is the beginning part of Proverbs is written by King Solomon and you will notice in verse eight in verse ten that King Solomon is specifically addressing young people. He says My son hear the instruction of your father. Verse eight and in verse ten again he says my son now I'll be reading from the King James but I'm actually going to paraphrase it a little bit because the version that I was reading at the time was a little different version but you'll notice in Proverbs Chapter one Verse ten I start reading Now imagine this is the first thing you ever read in the Bible and you are in jail for kidnapping and robbery. This is the first thing you read first ten my son. If sinners entice you do not consent. Verse eleven. If they say come with lust let's lay wait for blood. Let's learn privily let's let's hide for these people so they can rob the innocent people without cause. Verse twelve will swallow them up alive as the grave in whole as those that go down into the pit. Verse thirteen we will find all types of precious substance we will fill our houses with spoil verse fourteen cast in your lot with us. Come with us let's all have one purse. He continues to the next few verses giving advice to young people not to go out with other people and commit these crimes of violence robbery and kidnapping. The first thing that I read in the Bible is don't do what you just did. Now when I began to read these things I was so convicted I experienced this tremendous wave of condemnation and guilt. But I'm in solitary confinement. There's no one talking to me. I'm only reading the Bible only reading Proverbs. Where's all this guilt and conviction coming from. I begin to think of all my past crimes. I begin to feel so terrible that I've hurt so many people and rob from so many people I can remember yelling one night at my mother and father and saying Mom I hate you dad I hate you. If I could kill you I would kill you. I hated my parents I hated this world I hated this life and here I now I begin to read a bible I just instantly feel so convicted. Maybe you think the Bible has good news maybe you think the Bible brings people Priest Well let your eyes drop down to verse twenty seven in verse twenty eight. It says when fear comes to your life like a desolation and destruction comes as a whirlwind when distress and anguish come upon you. Verse twenty eight. Then they will call upon me but I will what I will not answer. They will seek Me early but they will not find me. And so here was this tremendous wave of condemnation to go I felt so terrible and now I read that in this distress my life is ruined kidnapping Robin to die in prison. I can call out to God no hope no answer nothing it's totally over the door has been shut forever and I felt so terrible. But something about this bible had a power in itself. Something about this Bible was gripping my mind and I could not stop reading it I just kept reading it even though I didn't understand everything I was reading. I would hope I would sit on the bed that little cot in the prison cell and I would hold the Bible away from me as I was really because I was crying so much there was a puddle of tears there on the floor. Well I think God I didn't spend time reading the whole entire Old Testament. I flipped through one day and I found the book of Matthew and I thought the book of Matthew what's a man who is Matthew what's Matthew writing about. Well I found out that Matthew was writing about someone. He had met and he was writing about that person's life who is that person. It was Jesus and as I start reading through the book of Matthew what I am learning about Jesus is totally different to what I've ever learned before. I grew up thinking Jesus was related to the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. But what I read in Matthew was radically different. Now Matthew was explaining in telling people these prophecies which has been which had been written for thousands of years all pointed forward to this messiah to this Jesus and their being before feel before our eyes and so this was so exciting and tremendous and wonderful for Matthew he wrote about all these things and I was reading these things in a jail cell and it was so exciting. I'll go to a story that was probably the most moving it's in Matthew Chapter nineteen Matthew Chapter nineteen chapter nineteen. There's a story that many of you are familiar with it's the story of the rich young ruler. Are you familiar with this story. Again it's a young person. Now the story starts in verse twenty one. No actually it starts in verse sixteen going to summarize it for the sake of time tonight. In this story in verse sixteen again here's a young person that comes up to Jesus and he wants to follow Jesus and Jesus turns to him and the young man says What do I need to do to inherit eternal life. And Jesus says you need to do all these things and he says and here is my notice his response. He says in verse twenty he says I have kept all these things for my use what do I lack. So in this young person's mind he believes I'm following God one hundred percent my entire life is committed one hundred percent to God What do I lack. What do I lack. But Jesus knows his life very well and he knows that he has committed a great percentage of his life to God. There's still just one percentage of his life that he hasn't surrendered. It says in verse twenty one he says if you want to be perfect. If you want to give one hundred. Or sent go sell everything that you have and give it to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven and come and follow me. If you stop right there you would think mathematically having given ninety nine percent of his life. How much how much easier would be to just go one more percent I mean does that mathematically just make so much sense. After ninety nine Steps one more step and that's it that's all you have to do. It was so amazing I just was so struck by this is I was reading this in the jail cell verse twenty two when he hears these things to become sad. He becomes sorrowful and he turns away because he had great possessions and then Jesus and the disciples respond to the situation the disciples are amazed they cannot believe what they have just seen. They have just seen a man who thought he had committed one hundred percent only committed ninety nine and he turns and walks away from an opportunity to invest in heaven for ever and ever and then I read in the in that jail cell I read these verses that gave me so much hope. Verse twenty five the disciples are amazed. They say to Jesus who then can be saved. Verse twenty six. But Jesus beheld them and he said unto them with men this is impossible but with God all things are one all things are possible. Now I don't how I've been I've been kicked out of school I'm a high school drop out drug addict felon I'm going to jail so I don't know anything about the Bible but when I read all things are possible with God I began to have hope and I didn't know how to pray I didn't know anything about prayer but I was reading the Bible that when people would ask God to come into their life and change their life when they prayed God would answer them and so I didn't know what to do I just was there in a jail cell Pierce County Jail I knelt down on the floor and I prayed and all I knew how to say was God I'm sorry I'm sorry. Completely ruined my life. But if it's possible can you please help me would you please change my life. Do you think God can hear a prayer from someone like that who's gone so. So far made so many terrible decisions do you think so I can tell you standing here today looking back to that moment in that was about November of one thousand nine hundred five. The moment the very moment I knelt on the floor and prayed and sought God's help. God began to change my life. God began to my whole life my whole mind all my desires everything begin to change. I no longer wanted to be bad. I now wanted to do what was good. I no longer wanted to be evil and I didn't want to be just mediocre either fifty percent. I wanted to live one hundred percent for God I was reading these stories in here like Daniel and Matthew and Peter and Paul and Hanukkah and honor and he's equal in Jeremiah and all these people in the Bible who committed their lives one hundred percent for God and whether pain or pleasure wherever God Whatever God gave them wherever they went they decided to live one hundred percent for God And so I decided if I'm ever going to live it if I'm going to continue to live in this life whether in prison or out I want to live for God. Well I continued to pray I loved writing I didn't have anyone in there to talk to of course in the cell. And so I just spent time every day reading the Bible and as I read the Bible it began to change my life and I and I loved prayer I just loved praying and of course I prayed a prayer that all prisoners pray God please don't let me go to prison please let me out. All prisoners prayed that night prayed that you think God answered the prayer exactly the way I wanted him to. Well I went to the court room a few months later I walked in the judge looked at me he said I'm going to give you the shortest sentence I can give you. I'm going to send you to the adult prison for thirteen years thirteen years you may seem like a long time to you but it's a lot shorter to life and I'm grateful for the thirteen if that's the only option I'm grateful for that because I was so young they kept me in solitary confinement in the hole the prisoners called the hole. Can you guess how long they kept me in there for. They kept me in the hole for two years. Two years in that cell I never left. Do you know that those two years twenty four hours a day seven days a week in a prison cell were the best years of my life and I wouldn't trade them for anything. You know why. Number one that was two years of spending uninterrupted undistracted time reading God's Bible and the more time I spent reading the Bible the more it began to change my life I love those two years and not only did it not only did reading the Bible changed my life but I was so convicted by God Andrew even though you're in prison don't waste even one second of time. Don't waste even a second. Go to school. Study because I've given you a brain. A what everyone a brain I realize reading the Bible that the brain is most valuable possession that we have and we must use it we must we must tax it we can't let it go to waste. So I pray God how can I use my brain how can I go to school so I started requesting books and you know the prisoner administration sent a teacher down to my cell and said you know in the adult prison system you can't get your high school diploma but you can in the juvenile system so we're going to if you want to we're going to let you complete your high school diploma. Would you like to do that. I said yes. So ten months later the teacher this is what he said he said I went down to Andrew's cell I gave him all the books and homework the next day he gave them all back to me and I thought he doesn't want to do it but I looked and it was all completed. So I gave him more books and homework and the next day he gave it all back because I had no Facebook no girlfriend no cell phone no internet nothing but to sit there and study all day long. I completed three years of high school in just ten months and got a three point seven G.P.A. So the class clown and a drug addict and a kid they got kicked out of school and went to prison at sixteen graduated with better grades before everyone else who was still in school and because I was being faithful with the small opportunities that God gave me the present administration said ten on my cell and they gave me this little radio it was a Walkman radio that played a cassette tapes many of you many may remember those and I would go to the window in my cell like you'll see in a pic. Sure that little window in a prison cell and I would put the little radio up tonight tuned in and I found a Christian radio station tonight. I thought wow this is so amazing I was hearing all these sermons I was hearing all these songs and this the idea that people would come together in the free world. They're not in prison but they would come together to read the Bible to pray to talk about Jesus was so fantastic and wonderful to me I thought wow this is so amazing. Why would people do that but I was so incredible and everything I was learning was so great I could have heard the same sermon five hundred times it was just so wonderful to hear all these things every Sunday night my favorite program would come on called bible answers live with Doug bachelor amazing facts. And it was a Seventh Day Adventist radio station and I thought I don't know who these Adventists are but he would talk about the Sabbath in the state of the dead and what happens when we die it's a rest but Jesus is going to come back he's going to resurrect all the people who trust in him and he said you know this wonderful news is going to go to the entire world. The Hindus the Buddhists and Muslims every know everyone in the world God intends all people to hear this good news and we are living a very precious important time in history and I thought wow I don't know who these advocates are but they love reading the Bible. I hope that one day when I get out of prison I can meet some Seventh Day Adventists several other things that happened there in solitary not only did reading the Bible change my life but also began to change the lives of the people around me. After a while in prison my mother and father came to the prison to visit me and I remember what they would do the guards would come to my cell they would cuff me up on the ankles in the waist they would shuffle me down the hallway down to this little visit room and there was a little steel table in front of me I would sit on a stool stool and there was a bulletproof glass window in front of me and my parents were on one side and I was on the other and I was talking to them on the phone. Maybe you've seen this in movies or in the news. And so I'm talking to my mother and father but it was not until I'd lost everything in my life. That's when I realized the value of our family. So I was looking at my mom for the first time I looked at my dad for the first time I said Dad I love you but my mom for the first time in my life I said Mom I love you. I never said that to my parents ever till I lost everything. For me it was too late. Godliness opportunely look at them and I really appreciate what they have how much they tried to be good parents and of course my parents cried for a while and but after a while my dad you know he picked up the phone he said you know what. We're so happy to see what's going on in your life you know you're reading the Bible you're changing your attitude is changing your your conversation if you don't swear anymore you're going to school you're accomplishing so much even in solitary much but they were so glad my mom sent me a newer Bible easier or easier to read version. She said you know I saw You're like a brand new son we're so happy that even though you're in prison your life is changing so not only did God change my life but he began to change the lives around me and not only my family but also the other prisoners. You know I only knew so little of the Bible I knew just a little bit but it was the little that I knew that I wanted to share with other people and so I yelled out to the other prisoners. I said Hey do you guys want to study the Bible with me. Do you know what they yelled back. They said no we don't want to study keep Jesus to yourself. But they said hey there is another prisoner who is also studying the Bible and you but you can't share with him because he's on the second floor of the prison. But there's a floor between us. So you can't communicate to him all the people in prison they have a lot of time on their hands. So they think of ways to get around the rules. But they said there's a secret way to communicate to the prisoner upstairs and they taught me the secret way do you want to know the secret way. Sure. OK I'm going to tell you you said I could so I'm going to tell you the prisoner said you need to go over to the bed on your in your cell and get that little plastic pillow that a thousand people slept on before you you need to get that pill and walk over and put it on the toilet. See you're putting a pillow on a toilet seat. You need to press down to create a seal. Now once you create a seal you press up and down in the pillow the pillow pushes the air and the air pushes the water out of the toilet. So you pump the water out of the toilet with a pillow. OK now I climb up onto the sink and I bang four times on the ceiling that's the secret code. He knows what that means. The prisoner up stairs he takes his pillow puts it on his toe. He pops up and down now he pumps the water out of his toilet. Now the pipes between my toilet and his toilet on the second floor are empty. If you had walked by my cell at that moment you would have seen me kneeling on the ground with my face in the toilet and I yelled into the toilet I said Hey I see can you hear me. And I listened and I heard yeah I can hear you. I said Hey I'm studying a bible down here. Can we study the Bible together he said sure. So God answered my prayer and provided a Bible study through the toilet is not a wonderful toilet testimony. You know I when I say that when I realize as I think you know what what it must have been like for Jesus who lived in infinite purity in infinite bliss and joy and peace of Heaven to come down to this universe infinite humiliation to come down and live in the toilet bowl of the universe. This place of sin why so that he can understand your life so that he can understand our suffering heat when you pray he knows what you're going through. He chose to humiliate himself. I would like to ask the question would you humiliate yourself and would you put your face in a toilet and do a Bible study through a toilet if you knew that doing so would give someone else hope for eternity and want to change your life and no Jesus would you do that. Would you still do that. Would you still kneel down to put your face in the toilet and give a Bible study to someone. Even if you knew that they would listen to you and they would reject it and they would not accept that message. Would you still do it. Jesus would Jesus do it. That's what's so amazing. At the age of eighteen my birthday present. They let me out of the hole and they took me to the adult prison. Here's a picture of me at the age of eighteen I just got released from solitary confinement. I didn't get many haircuts they're in solitary. And so this is the ugliest picture that I have of me. So I'm going to remove that picture that was just there for a second. So at the age of eighteen I went to the adult prison and there are many many years that went by but one of the first things that happened when I went to adult prison I wish my mind had been so clear from two years of no distraction it was like a laser beam my focus was so clear and I knew as soon as I get to the prison I should run right to the library and to the law library and to the school and study study study study learn everything that I could. Don't waste any time. And I remember one day I was reading a newspaper it was a common it was I think it was a News Tribune and it was a story of a young boy that was or was the Pierce County Herald it was a story of a boy who was playing in his backyard and he was playing in his backyard he climbed up the fence and fell over the fence into the neighbor's yard. The problem the neighbor has a big Rottweiler dogs they jump on the boy attack him and do serious damage to his face. And they said he's going to need plastic surgery to put his face back together again. And I read that the family was very poor and if you wanted to donate to help medical costs you can help them. And I remember thinking to myself I'm eighteen years old I'm in prison. The food's not very good but I have food I have clothing I have so many things to be thankful for even though I'm in the prison. Here's a young boy whose life is ruined. He hasn't done anything wrong. His life is ruined. And I had so little money. I mean I was working for twenty six cents an hour. It's really hard to save up and buy stuff for twenty six cents an hour. But I remember thinking you know what. And so I sat down I wrote out this. Just slip with a few days later a guard came to my cell with the carbon copy of that request that was a receipt they took eight I think was about eight dollars off my account and they sent it to the boy and I thought I was no dummy I knew the eight dollars can't cover much maybe can only buy a candy bar or a balloon or a sticker but I remember I sent it to the boy to do what I could and I remember standing there myself thinking and thought you know what I'm in jail for robbery I'm in jail for kidnapping and my whole life all I've done is take and steal or rob over other people and I remember thinking this is the first time in my life I've ever given to someone. I've never I've never done it this is the first time ever and I remember feeling it was so good it felt so good to give I wanted to keep giving. This was a high it was a drug for me from which there was no coming down I remember thinking you know I can die right now and at least there's one good deed on my account this was so wonderful and so time continued to go by many many many years from time to time the older prisoners will come up and talk to me and they would say Hey Michel. Now as you may remember I was introduced my name is Andrew Michelle my last name is Michelle like a name of a girl but in prison and even out of prison people sometimes mis pronounce it and call me Michel. Well when I was in prison and they called me Michel I did not correct them because I didn't want to spend thirteen years in prison being called Mashal that would have made life a little bit more difficult. We should be wise and avoid those unnecessary difficulties. So they said Hey Michel I said yes and I said Is it true you came to the prison when you were only sixteen I said yes. They said Is it true you spent two years in the hole. I said yes because you might go to the hole for fifteen or thirty days for a fighter using drugs but I was in there for two years so they thought maybe I was a little crazy and I said no they said you were in there for two years I said yes. They said you know in prison you can't hide we see every. Things from seven in the morning until nine at night. All you do is study study study study study. You go to the school you go to the law library you're taking welding classes business classes computer classes you're studying law books You're always reading. Sometimes we walk by your cell when you're asleep in a book. And one prisoner he came up to me he said you know what. He said I walked by your side to go the bathroom really. I walk by yourself I looked and it was like for him what you were you were kneeling on the ground. What were you doing. I said you know I was praying. He said You are what I say I was praying. They said you know your life is so different from the other prisoners all the other prisoners use drugs you don't use drugs all the other prisoners get tattoos. You've been in prison now with not you know it for eight years you know you have one tattoo is it all the other prisoners gamble but you don't gamble why is your life so different and I told them the same thing I will tell you tonight. All I did was pick up this book that would just open it and I would just read from it and then it when I read from I would pray about what I was reading. That's all I did every morning. Well for me the hardest part about being in prison. I needed time in this Bible not just five minutes not just twenty minutes I needed time in this Bible so that the Bible could change me I needed it not for tomorrow but for today. Every day I need this Bible and it was so hard to find that time in prison. So I would get up at four o'clock five o'clock in the morning turn on that little light and try to get those minutes in that I could read in the Bible. The prisoners they said you know after you get out of prison you have been in prison for thirteen years what are you going to do when you get out of prison. I said you know what I don't know what I'm going to do when I get out. I've been in prison for so long I don't remember what it's like to be free I've grown up in prison this is all I know but I dream of what it's like to be free because I know how I want to live i want to live a life of service. I realized in prison the only thing that we can do with our life is give it away you must give everything in your life away. Why not give your life away in service to other people. I remember. Reading in the journal of a missionary one time Jim Elliott He says he wrote in his journal he said he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose and he lived his life in selfless service to others that they could know about Jesus and shortly after he wrote in his journal he died at the hands of the people he was trying to help. But I want to live a life like that. I want to live a life of selfless service helping other people time continue to go by and one day the prisoners in the law library to sit and read you know what you should do you should apply for what's called a pardon or clemency from the governor. And after all these years in a prison I never heard anyone talk about that. But I said Andrew you can apply. And and I thought to myself wow you know what. No prisoners cannot get out of prison is only one way either the courts overturn your sentence and there was no option for that in my case or the governor can exercise his option of granting a pardon to a prisoner but that never happens. It never never never happens of all the years in prison. I never heard anyone talk about this but I thought to myself you know what. So what I can at least apply and if I lose I lose nothing I'm still where I met. But at least I can say I tried. So I filled out my application and not only that but I was reading the Bible and I was so convicted. The more I prayed the greater the conviction grew that God wanted me to apply for this clemency this pardon and I was going to get it. I was just so certain. So I applied in two thousand and three you can go home and watch this it was televised. I was in the prison. My application was sent to a Limpia and it was heard before the governor's clemency and pardons board. This is all video audio recorded online and I was not present but they heard my case and they said you know this young man he was sixteen when he went to prison he spent two years in solitary. He's completed all these classes you need ninety credits for a two year associate's degree. Andrew has completed two hundred fifty college level credits is an all these things he's been helping the other prisoners and they came down to a vote. They said all those in favor of giving. A pardon to Andrew Michelle say I there are five members too when I need a majority vote which is three. Can you guess how many people voted on that day. Only two I lost by one vote. When I got the news in prison I was both glad and I was sad I was glad because I got two votes. I was so glad at least I got two votes. No one ever gets any votes right up to and so I that was a confirmation I was doing the right thing but I was somewhat sad because I realized I thought God is going to do something right I believe that God's going to all these years I've been the only prisoner or at least in my own mind there's been tied meaning giving offerings and keeping the Sabbath and reading the Bible. I thought God was going to honor those who honor him and what happened is it only me or are there other people here tonight that you've been praying to God or you have prayed to God about something for many many many years. And God did not answer the way you wanted him to at the time you want to do it. Am I the only one who's there other people here that had that tonight. Yes Are there other people but I realized you know even though God did answer my prayer what am I going to do when you stop being my going to be unfaithful. I realized the words of Peter he said Jesus to who who where else can I go there's nowhere else to go and so I realize even if I'm going to stay in prison I'm going to remain faithful to God A few months later April two thousand and four. I was writing in my journal I used to write all sorts of crazy things in my journal. Don't ask me where they came from but whenever I read the Bible I just kept having these convictions one day I'm going to go to Venezuela. I don't know where Venezuela is that one day I'm going to go to Thailand. I don't know or Thailand. One day I'm going to speak Spanish and I would write all these things in my journal and then I wrote there in the bottom my journal I don't know why but April twelfth two thousand and four. One day the governor or the government is going to realize that they're going to realize what God has been doing in my life and they're going to grant me a part and they're going to grant me a commutation. I could not explain it but somehow I just knew that somehow God was going to work in my life. Now we're still going to get a pardon. I never shared that with anyone in the prison because they would think that you are and you are qualified for certain pills but I really believed it and I don't know how to explain it but exactly ten months to the day January eleventh January twelfth two thousand and five I was sitting in my cell New York Island just a few miles from here as the bird flies B. unit fourth tier cell four o five and I was sitting in the cell and it was a stack of books and I was reading as usual. My cell mates were there smoking cigarettes and watching T.V. as usual and all of a sudden something happened I never could have imagined. The prison guards ran up to my cell they banged on the door and said prisoner Mitchell. I said yes they said you need to go to the administration building right now. And that's always bad news and so I thought What did I do wrong I didn't do anything wrong but in prison you can get in trouble for doing something even if you didn't do it because you live with thousands of other guilty prisoners and so I thought what I did wrong the prisoners next to me in my cell they said Andrew what did you do wrong you don't even drink coffee because I learned about the health message. You know when we live better when we're healthier we can serve God better and so I wanted to be healthier and so they said this is what you need to go to administration or you're in trouble. So I walked down to the administration building. I open the door I walked in and there was this long hallway and at the end of the hallway where the prison director and the warden and they came running down towards me and he came up to me and he put his finger in my face and this is what he said word for word. Are you Andrew Mitchell. I said yes we don't know who you are and we don't know who you know but we just received an order from Governor Gary Locke office to release you immediately. He stood there looking at me like I was a man from the moon. They said you need to go back up to your cell and pack up your stuff because you're being released right now. January eleventh two thousand and five was the last day in office for Governor Gary Locke the first Chinese American governor who later became the ambassador from the U.S. to. China on his last day in office for reasons I do not know today I do not know I can only speculate on his last day in office he overturned the judge's decisions and the people who are on the clemency board overturned their decision to set me free. He had heard his story somehow someway of a young person that didn't follow Biblical counts or didn't even know it made bad decisions was in prison but he picked up his Bible and the Bible changes life so much he became he started contributing to the world around him helping other people and because of this example I speculate he overturned the sentence and set me free. I went to prison in one thousand nine hundred five. It's January two thousand and five almost ten years in prison. I go home my mom comes to pick me up everyone else has passed away. I go home for the first time I remember walking into my house. Can you guess what was the first thing I did when I went home after ten years in prison. I prayed. I walked into my bedroom I remember I shut the door and I listened and it was so quiet. Prisoners all these T.V.'s going in radios going and people yelling slamming doors and bells and whistles and it's just all we there's no quiet always distraction. And my favorite time of the morning was to get up it was so quiet no the other prisoners were asleep and open this Bible to read it and to pray about what I was reading and now I realize I'm free I can pray at three am I can spread three P.M. I can pray at nine pm I can pray whatever I want as loud as I want and no one's going to stop me was so wonderful I continued to pray and I I thought the Adventists the seventy AD This I've got to find these people so I looked up in the phone book. I thought on the Seventh Day Adventist Church there was one in pew while if I never heard of these people I called up in like a good prisoner I asked for permission to go to the church and so I called and they said Sure you can come to our church. So I remember I went down to the pew all of administrate I walked there was some things you remember so clearly it was a truly overcast cloudy day I walked into the church door. Open it and I remember he stepped over the threshold slowly the door shut and I remember thinking wow I'm in God's church with God's people on God's day many from God's book this is so wonderful. There was a pastor that came up to me and he said hi how are you welcome to our church are you a visitor. Now there's no way for me to describe. I cannot begin to describe it you'll just have to take my word for it. I felt like a Martian I thought like a man from the moon. I was in such a state of panic and I felt so felt so weird to be free it was felt so weird to adjust to a free society. If you explain it more but I don't have time. But the pastor came up to me and I felt like I had this big sign Chuen stamped on my forehead and he knew everything so this is exactly what I said word to word to the pastor at the time. I'm going to say to you the same way he said it to me. He said Hi welcome to our church. Can I help. Where where you from and the first thing I said I just blurted out I just got out of prison I've been in prison for ten years I've been in prison sixteen years old I don't know where to go I don't know what to do please just sold me a seat where I can sit down I promise I won't bother anyone. I just want to hear people study the Bible and I just blurted it out like that and the pastor said oh well great well we're glad you're here. Please maybe you can go to the youth young adult Sabbath school so I went to the young adults at the school and the people in the church are so friendly and loving and he came out there. The elder Tom Emery held out his hand shook my hand I was so early I want to be early because I wanted to get good seats. I just I thought it was really important and so he said Where are you from how do you find our sad was gone I just blurted out I just got out of prison I've been in prison for six and I've been in prison for ten years going to prison so I was sixteen I don't know where to go I don't know what to do. We just don't know where to sit down I won't bother anyone I just want you people study the Bible and and so I think I think an angel covered his ears somehow because he said Oh Great Well we're glad you're here go ahead and sit down everyone will be here in a few one minutes and so it was so wonderful and after that I just kept my mouth shut I didn't tell anyone where I had been or what I had been doing. People would ask me where you would from and I would just say you know I left home when I was sixteen and I. I moved around a lot and I've done different jobs and gone to school part time and just recently I quit my job and moved back in with my mom and so I thought people don't want to know I was in prison I don't want to freak people out people don't want to know and I would go to church it was so wonderful but as time went by I really loved going to church but I just wanted to do more I just can't sit here in a pew one hour a week I want to do more what can I do. And I thought but I'm a high school dropout a drug addict felon can God use someone like me. Have you ever thought to yourself I'm limited because of X.Y.Z. I'm too poor I'm too rich not educated I'm too smart I can live for God Well the Bible says Matthew twenty four fourteen this is one of just many wonderful verses. Jesus said something very interesting talking about the end times. He said this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in how much of the world all the world as a witness to all nations and then what will happen in the end will come now do you look forward to this and coming yes or no. Yes of course we want you to come back therefore we should be very interested in taking the gospel to all the world especially the areas of the world where the Hindus the Buddhists and Muslims there are no Christians there and so I thought what can I do. And again as I learned in solitary confinement and I was explain again I prayed I prayed Lord what can I do. And God opened a little door and to go feed the homeless in Tacoma and I went to feed the homeless in the comma and then God open bigger doors. I got invited to a three week mission trip a short term mission trip in Mexico to go to volunteer to orphanage and then after a few weeks the pastor said hey you did so well on a trip. Would you like to join some students got out an ad going to school going to Venezuela for two months I said sure because I wrote that in my journal remember. So I went to Venezuela for two months I had to learn I had to learn some Spanish. After two months in Venezuela helping with youth outreach and building some churches they said we need a teacher at the advent of school in Costa Rica. So I went to Costa Rica and I was there teaching Bible classes in English classes the kids there and coast. Now after six months I pray to God What are you so you can see. Feeding the homeless in the coma three weeks in Mexico two weeks in Venezuela six months in Costa Rica. God what's next. I got invited to go to Thailand for another it was six months to do outreach there to refugee camp an orphanage in prisons and many different projects working with the Buddhist people. And after six months they said you can't leave we need you here. The girls at the orphanage lobby the prisoners love you gotta stay here we want you to stay. Six months turned into five years. And I'll tell you a little bit more about that in a minute but I want to be a realist I know that you are real people and you have real challenges and you have family members you probably know people in your neighborhood or family that made that decision and they've gone to jail. Maybe people here tonight have been to jail and you know what. People sometimes just do the craziest things they do you commit terrible crimes. They go to prison and they get out and then what do they do. Go back to prison. I've never been in prison for ten years there was this one guy he had no teeth everyone called him gummy he was a drug addict. He said he went to he got released and went back five times during the ten years in prison and then I was thinking this is so crazy. Why would someone get freedom and then go back to the prison. But I want to be honest with you tonight I want to be transparent getting out of prison and the just in society was very difficult. It was not easy. There were many many many challenges some which will never go away. And you know there was a point in my life and I realized I knew it and I made some decisions and those decisions led me back to prison. I went back to jail. Guess why I went back to jail. You know one day I got this phone call and they said you know we're here at the local community college Pierce College which had sponsored all the educational programs at McNeil they said you were the president that took all of our classes and then you took some of them over and over again just to keep learning is that we heard you got out of prison or do it all this mission work and helping and all these other people will you come back to me you know I'm in prison. And when you speak to the prisoners at the. Way she and I said sure. So I praise God I went back to jail not for committing a crime and I was there. And there's the prisoners looking at me going he looks like is that that looks like. And I stood up and said yes it is me. It's Andrew Mitchell. Andrew Michel let me tell you a god as though my life were in and I begin to share with them and it was so it was so wonderful. And since that time God is open opportunities for me to to go back to prison not that once but just a few months ago last year I was in a maximum security prison outside of Nairobi Kenya and I was speaking to prisoners in a prison and they have no shoes no soap no toilet paper and someone dies in that prison every week just from drinking the water. But I shared with those men what I share with you tonight doesn't matter whether in prison or out. God can change anyone's life. If you see God with prayer especially prayer and fasting God will act. God will give you so also give you the opportunity to share if you seek him. If you spend time with him all I shared with them was this croissant been Adamu jumbo Healy How was it cani Latini quote mangu mumble your day who was a con. Matthew nineteen twenty six is impossible with men is possible with God and as I shared with those prisoners a man stood up at the back and he said he said I've committed so many robberies so many rapes so many murders I cannot even remember all my victims. And I'm going to be spending many many years in prison. But if God can change someone's life like Andrew's than I want God to change my life as well. Do you think it's worthwhile to go to a prison and to share a message of hope with these prisoners and to see them make a decision like that. I'll finish with one story. I was in Costa Rica. I was there with another Bible worker. He used to be a pot smoking snowboarder and he had read the Bible and God changed his life so now we're there in Costa Rica doing Bible classes work anomalies teaching at the school's volunteers but also in the community trying to reach out the community and do Bible studies. But after a while. How you know it started to dry up the opportunity to close a lot of closed doors. And so what we did is we spent time praying and fasting what we did as one day I think it was like a Tuesday we did not eat breakfast lunch or dinner and on the next day we skipped breakfast and lunch and we just prayed. We just spent time reading the Bible and praying. We are praying God If you want to please let us share with the whole country we just want you God to open doors so that we can talk about you we love doing this and it was so. While we are praying I got this crazy radical idea I just heard a voice in my head and saw the voice of my set head said Andrew you should share your testimony on every telephone television station in Costa Rica and so I thought that's probably not a good voice to listen to but I prayed about it and I shared it with my friend he said you know what let's pray about it and he said well let's do that let's send an e-mail with your short testimony to the T.V. stations and you see what happens. So he sent the e-mail we got an e-mail right back. We're starting a television crew up to the mountains in Monteverdi Costa Rica to do an interview with this guy. So they came up to did interview and when they were in such a rush to interview me we started to get scared. We were a little bit worried. Why are they in such a hurry to hear my story. Mabel do you use it to create like some terrible drama or to make it sound really bad. So they came up to interview me and my I didn't know a lot of Spanish but I knew enough to every question they would ask me I would answer from the Bible. Why are you here. The Bible says what are you doing the Bible says what happened in your life the Bible says that way no matter how they edit the video it's always going to show the Bible well at least I hope so was the answer that the next morning I was sleeping and I was living in the community with a student who is poor and so they let me sleep in the house and it was also good food and so I woke up at five in the morning the mom came barged into the bedroom grabbed me while sleeping said they wanted a live on today Mena television wake up wake up look at the television and I looked at the television and there was my face on the T.V. and it was a commercial and this is what it said in Spanish other Spanish speakers here they said it said this. Since Spanish I'll translate it said sequestered. They did also start also NATO say a scone name was one time used in a way through by yes which translated is armed and dangerous kidnapper and robber from the United States is hiding. Say a scone day in most one time years in the mountains of our country. Tune in tonight a lot so Joe you know a special program and so I thought this is terrible Can you imagine if your mother or father of a little boy or girl you're sending them to the wonderful at this school and that nice American missionary teacher has been teaching your kid Bible classes. He's armed and dangerous kidnapper and so the teachers and everyone was so worried. But that night we were praying all day long. That night the program came on and said next next next. And they drag out the program till eight fifty two that night at nine P.M. on that channel was the finale for Latin American Idol all of Costa Rica tuned in to watch the finale. They held my interview to the last minute and these two women came on the narrator's this is public television. Information on say was a channel and they came on they said you know and they started a short play all this dramatic music the show Prison riots in prison fights in this terrible car chase and he said he was in prison a kidnapping robbery sequestered all day. All these things and they said but we went to the mountains we found him in the school and this is what he's doing. The film cut away and it showed me in class teaching the kids Jesus loves me I know and it was so wonderful and then it began to let me share and I shared on national television what reading the Bible had done for my life and what reading the Bible could do for other people's lives. It was so wonderful I was sitting there in the house jumping up and down God over just one day and a half of prayer and fasting open an opportunity to share with the whole country the next day we were walking around the community everyone was thanking me. Thank you for sharing the story. A police man when I was walking in the capital San Jose a policeman ran up to me and he said hey I know. Who you are and if you've ever been a criminal that's not good news. He said the police officers I know who you are and I said you know what. He said you know my family was watching your story the other night and it was so wonderful you were such an inspiration to my kids they want to read more about the Bible and it was so wonderful. But just spending that time in prayer and fasting from the beginning I learned there in solitary confinement to just pick up this Bible and you read and you pray about what you read and you seek God and you spend time undistracted with food or T.V. or anything if you spend time seeking God He will open doors for you to share and to serve other people. Those doors may be very small but I can tell you sees sees those little opportunities because he will give you greater and greater and greater doors. I want to finish with this last thought what do I want to do with my life no I'm I'm married now that's a whole nother story and I'm living in the Philippines now. I go to prison every Sabbath now to share with the prisoners there in the Philippines. And my wife is doing her residency you know after four years we're going to go do more missionary work with the Hindus or the Buddhists or the most Slims. There's so many people in the world that have never heard of Jesus and we want to live our life sharing with other people. My life's goal is that when I die I want to die sharing Jesus with the Hindus the Buddhists and the Muslims. If God can use a high school drop out drug addict felon how much easier is it God for God to work in your life. I encourage you to spend time in the Bible read the Bible seek Him and He will give you those opportunities. Can we bow our heads in a word of prayer. Father in heaven we just thank you so much tonight for reminding us that all things are possible with you. You've given us so many invitations to spend time with you in your word and I pray that is this word has been a blessing to me that it will bless everyone here tonight and that you will in turn not only bluster family but their friends and neighborhoods their counties in your countries wherever they are wherever they will go from this point use them. Heavenly Father and I pray that every person in here will leave here with an insatiable desire and a hunger to know you better not to listen to someone else's testimonies but they know you so well they will have their own testimonies and they in turn will bless other people in Jesus when if I mean this media was brought to you by Adil perhaps a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about our universe or if you would like to listen to more sermon legalism W.W.W. audio first thought or.

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