The following is an interview with Matt Brooks (see other blog articles) and Roscoe Rickman. Both men are incarcerated by the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Matt: You were once a shot-caller for a violent prison gang. Why did you have a change of heart?
Roscoe – While I was in county jail charged with assault on a law enforcement officer and with possession of an AK-47, the courts were talking about a life sentence for me. The prosecutor said that he knew I was affiliated with a gang. He didn’t want me doing less than thirty years.
Matt: Tell me a little about how and what brought you to a relationship with Jesus.
Roscoe – Being recently married, the thought of thirty years was unbearable. Suicide was what I was contemplating. I got on my knees and started praying. Immediately the anxiety left me. I started reading the Bible, and it started to change my outlook on everything. Through this, I found Jesus Christ was my redeemer and that through him all things are possible.
Matt: What impact does following Jesus have on your day today, living life inside?
Roscoe – The impact it has on my daily life is that I am stronger than I have ever been, physically, mentally and spiritually. One year after returning to prison, I retired from the gang I was in because I can’t serve God and the world both. The Bible says I can’t serve both God and money, and I had been using my position with the gang for financial gain.
Since being obedient to God, he has blessed me financially. I thought I would lose the respect of man, but it’s been the total opposite. I’ve led a lot of people to the Lord and given many other people from other organizations the courage to walk away from their gangs. Let me make this clear. This is not through me. This is through God who strengthens me.
Matt: Now that you’ve left the gang life in a pursuit of righteousness, where do you go from here?
Roscoe – Matthew 6.33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” I must pick up my cross daily, walk in love, and make sure that whoever I see, see Christ living in me. I didn’t get the thirty years. I got ten years. I go home in eight months, after serving three years.
After reading Ephesians 6.10 (a passage about the whole armor of God), I understand what Paul said in Ephesians 6.20. It reads, “for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Sometimes when we become a soldier for Christ we don’t hit the ideal place to serve, to fight the good fight, but I am honored that he saw me, and that he saved me, and chose me as one of his soldiers. Though my marriage is over, and a lot of my acquaintances are gone, I gained a friend and Savior in Jesus Christ.