I grew up looking for love, attention, and acceptance. My dad left us when I was 8 years old. He had a drinking problem that led to my parent’s separation. It was hit-and-miss getting any time with him from that point on, and my mom had her hands full with me and my six sisters. Yes, I was the only boy. And now I always say if she had had me first, she wouldn’t have had any more kids. She tried to raise me as best she could, but I got into so much trouble, she didn’t know what to do with me—stealing mail out of mailboxes, breaking into neighbor’s homes… just trying to get love and attention from anyone and everyone I could.
Our home wasn’t a Christian home. My mom would drop me off at church, but she wouldn’t stay herself. Maybe it was free baby-sitting for her? The pastor told my mom if she didn’t do something with me, I’d be in prison by the time I was 18 years old. So I was placed in foster homes, then in christian boy’s homes for troubled youths, and eventually detention centers.
I was 20 years old when I first went to jail. I was engaged to be married, my fiancé was pregnant, and I wanted to provide a place for my family to live, but I couldn’t afford it. I spent two-and-a-half years in jail for larceny. When I got out of jail, I started looking for love and attention in the clubs and bars. I’d go into the club dressed to the nines. The bouncers would joke “Here comes the owner of the place!”. I had to dress that way. It wasn’t about the drinking for me, but meeting and connecting with the people. But in order to buy those clothes and go to the clubs, I needed money. And I found myself back in prison. I was a thief, and not a very good one.
When I got out of jail, I was struggling financially. It’s hard for someone with a criminal record to get a decent job. I started looking for help from different people and places. There was a pastor I met who would teach me things about the Bible. I liked him, and I liked what he was teaching me, but it was all just in my head—never in my heart. I’d do good things, but it was only to impress him. He’d give me money to support me, and I’d tell him I’d pay him back, but I had no intentions of paying him back ever. I found myself stealing from many more people again.
There was a detective who started showing up at my front door, questioning me about a lot of things. I got to know this guy pretty well from seeing him so much. And after I was arrested again, this detective was in the interrogation room with me. He didn’t talk to me like anyone else I had met. He was just so real. He wasn’t judgmental, even though I was in there getting booked. He was different. I felt love and acceptance from him. He said, “Eric, why are you running from God? You know so much about the Bible, you should be in my Sunday school class teaching my kids, but you’re here. There’s so much in you. So much potential.” I had interactions with a lot of law enforcement over the years, but never experienced anyone like that man. His name was Kevin Bacon.
I can honestly say that it was Kevin’s words, his love, and his acceptance that changed me.I gave my life to Christ in prison in March of 1998.
I’d had so much head knowledge of God in the past, but for the first time, it was in my heart now. I started studying the Bible in jail. I prayed together with some of the guys there, and we’d study the Bible together. I even earned both my BA & MA degrees in Christian Counseling while in jail. So many hardships and heartaches in the past, but I could now see His mighty hand working in my life on a daily basis.
Since I was released, God has been blessing me in ways beyond comprehension. I have a great place to live with good Christian people. He is opening doors for me in so many areas, which causes me a little fear and anxiety, but He hasn’t brought me this far to desert me now. I am eager to see where He will take me next and what He has in store for me. I will trust Him, because He is so worthy. He is my Lord now… My God… My Savior.
I’ve decided to go public with my faith, and get water baptized … today.