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From Captivity to Freedom

What are the chances of meeting two people within 24 hours who both went to prison for crimes that they had committed years ago, only to find out that they knew each other from prison!  This is exactly what happened to me on June 17 and 18, 2011.  I met a former high ranking official at my parish and he suggested that we meet over coffee to get to know one another, which we did at a well known coffee shop in Trinidad on June 17.  He told me his life story and in summary, many years ago he did something which was not befitting of his office, and he was charged for doing so.  While awaiting sentencing, he gave his life to Jesus at a prayer meeting, and was certain that the Lord would not let him go to prison.  Much to his surprise, he was sentenced to prison for some years.  On his release, he gave his life completely in the service of the Lord.Then, on the next day June 18, I met a former security guard Adrian Hernandez at Maracas beach on the north coast of Trinidad.  Adrian was caught up with the wrong “friends” as a young man, and was sent to prison for eight years for theft and drug trafficking.  While in prison, his mother became critically ill from Tuberculosis, and died in her fifties.  Adrian was not allowed by the prison guards to attend his own mother’s funeral, which hurt him deeply.  His father has disowned him and claims that he only has one son now, Adrian’s brother.  On his release from prison, Adrian became a beach chair renter at Maracas as no one else would hire him because of his past record.  He now lives with his wife in a small hut in the mountains near Maracas because of the meager living that he makes.  Adrian also gave his life to the Lord and asked God to give him the strength not to return to his former way of life.

Both these men in this story have a deep faith in God, and now walk closely with Jesus in their newly recreated lives.  As I was talking to Adrian for the first time on June 18, and he was telling me his life story,  I told him that I had just met with a former high ranking official the night before who had also been to prison.  When I told Adrian his name, he exclaimed that he knew this man because they had been in the same prison for a few months together before he was transferred to another prison on the island!

Both men were eager to share their life stories with me, and they were not at all afraid to give God the glory for rescuing them from their former ways of life.  I told Adrian about my new profession as a Life & Career Coach, and he immediately went to a hut on the beach to get a hand-written article which he composed when he had gotten out of prison.  He showed me the article, which he had tried unsuccessfully to publish in one of the local newspapers.  He was keen to try to help young people in schools to avoid making the same mistakes that he had made in his youth.  He firmly believes that education about the realities of life and peer pressure is vital in shaping the youth of today to become responsible citizens of tomorrow.  He said that if the students could just listen to his story, and even if only 10% of the them took the message to heart, then we would have successfully planted good seed in these youth, and they in turn could become the catalysts to positively affect other youth in their own communities.

When I told Adrian that I had a website for my Life & Career Coaching profession, he humbly asked if I would consider publishing his article in a blog, to which I gladly responded yes.  Here is Adrian’s article:

“Those people who have moral and spiritual values, will understand what I am about to say.  For those of you who don’t, please give it a chance, and listen to what I have to say, so that we can embed it into our lives for the sake of our youth.  Let us give the youth a chance to carry on the legacy of respect, brotherly love, and regard for other people’s property.  To all my fellow citizens, please stop and think: this is what past and present prophets were sent here by God to teach us – proper moral and spiritual values!  Here are some examples of moral and spiritual values that I think are important to pass onto our youth:

Moral Values: Respect for people and their property, and consideration for the feelings of others.  What you do not like for yourself, you should not do to others.  Put another way, it’s the Golden Rule ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’  Our youth also need to return to the moral value of courtesy toward others, especially toward their elders.

Spiritual Values: Love for God and love for those He sends into the world and into our lives to teach us His ways (i.e. His prophets).  Love for our fellow human beings (i.e. our neighbours), love for His creatures, love for His planet, including the simple but life-giving resource of water, without which we cannot have life on our planet!

“If parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and teachers were to teach our youth these and other moral and spiritual values, then we would have a better society and a better world.  Spreading the seeds of love and respect among our youth would be like planting seeds of a healthy crop.  In years to come, when the harvest is ready, we as a society will reap the virtues in our youth from our labours.

“This is my long-term solution to crime, domestic violence, rape, incest and many more parasitic vices that plague our communities, our towns, our nation, and indeed the whole world.  So please my fellow human beings, let us try to get these teachings back into our schools and into our homes, so that the youth of today have a fighting chance to become fine young men and women of tomorrow.  Let us try to make this a better world for us all.  Will you join me in the fight to get this message into the hands of educators and adults everywhere?”

Adrian can be reached by cell at (868) 327-4045.  He would love the opportunity to come into your school or community to share his life story with the youth, so that they can learn from him and not make the same mistakes he has made, which cost him dearly.  In fact, he lost eight years of his life in prison, and in many ways he is still paying for his mistakes, by struggling to make a living renting chairs on a beach.  He is happy and content but he realizes that his past mistakes have cost him the chance at having a better life.

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