Hi, my name is Elvis Wright and I’m writing this short testimony to the partners and all who are involved with The Recovery Church & Dennis and Debbie Hall’s ministry. I met Dennis in 2009 while I was in the Stephens county jail. I was jail on major drug charges. I was in jail for close to a year before I was sent to prison. I eventually received 25 years and while awaiting to pull chain to prison Dennis Hall was coming into the jails—at first I never came out to hear a word he had to say—I was not interested. Later I discovered that Dennis had only been out a few months and he was coming in everyday for hrs.—I thought why would this guy come and spend his entire week with us after spending nearly 8 years locked up. As far as I know he’s the only chaplain that has ever been allowed that kind of access.
Had it not been for the fact that he was one of us, someone who had done nearly 8 years—and the fact that I knew of his reputation from the years before, then I would never have given him the time a day about God? I didn’t want to hear anything about God at the time. But there was something different about him, he loved us, he had truly met Jesus, I just knew he had because of the way he talked about him and the new life that was in him.
Anyway lets’ fast forward a few months—Dennis begin bringing seminars into the jail and they even allowed him to bring these little TV stations with DVD players and he was showing us DVD teachings on new ways to think and cope with life—God’s ways! Dennis was preparing us for prison—like he said your time can do you or you can do it. I begin thinking thatlike Dennis, where God used prison to change his life and give him and entirely different one, maybe I should listen—he would always ask us how are way was working. Well it was pretty obvious mine wasn’t. After months of this I finally asked Jesus into my heart. I believed Romans 10:10 and professed it all—purposed that Jesus would be Lord of my life from that day forward. Dennis baptized me in the jails shortly afterwards, and I went off to prison a changed man ready to allow God use prison in my life as it did Dennis’. Because of his teaching about the heart I was able to restore my relationship with my dad.
Well we spent about the same time in prison—I spent a little over 8 years and came out a changed man—because I had learned about the importance of giving back through the seminars and also about tithing—well my dad keep my house rented to the same good renter those 8 years for just enough rent to pay the mortgage and give me extra $100.00 a month to save up. When I got out the mortgage had been paid off in those 8 years and I had a house paid for with a few thousand saved to start a new life—God is so good if you do things His way.
These are but a few of the hundreds of things I experienced in those 8 years, but I had always told Dennis if he started a church while I was away that once I got out I’d be a big part. At the time he had just started the Steps of Christ Recovery Group—which a couple years later gave birth to this incredible church family.
Well I’ve been out 4 years and been with The Recovery Church ever since. My mother named me Elvis because she was such a fan of him, she taught me to sing from young age, and I do sing on the praise team when their up and going.
For people like us, if we do not have a church to connect with once we change our lives, or get out of prison or jail, then we usually go back into the same old past, same old culture, environment, and people—it’s not long we are worse than before. Recovery Church accepts us as we are—they know how to minister to the people coming out of this dark world—never do we feel less than human for our mistakes in life.
I think many people have the wrong impression of The Recovery Church—they really do have incredible discipleship programs and connect groups—teaching Jesus’ commands and New Covenant grace—about the importance of relationship with Jesus—and they are very structured and grounded in Him and the word of God.
I was given a second chance with my two kids—as a single dad it’s been tough—but I now have a son in college at OSU, and a daughter that’s finally finding her way. We’ve been in church as a family for the first time ever. Through the help of The Recovery Church I have a successful landscape business that’s supported my family well. I’ll be honest my walk with the Lord these past 4 years of freedom hasn’t always been the prettiest, if it wasn’t for pastor Dennis and the church family, well let’s just say I’d probably be doing a lot more time and my kids—no telling—it would not have been good.
But Pastors Dennis and Debbie are really good about not sugar coating our life journey with Jesus—they are so transparent about their own lives that it gives us great hope– and it removes the condemnation off us when we fall. I have watched so many pastors act like they get everything so right that when I fall I feel so condemned—like I must be the only one not getting this—but pastor is always sharing his struggles and how to fall forward into Father God’s arms when we fall and not run from Him and hide as Adam did. I’d like to thank each of you for your support of this ministry—without it I’d n oty have made it—upon release I spent a year in a Recovery Home transitioning out of prison—part of my dream is to be part of facilitating Recovery Church homes as we obtain more—they are so needful and Dennis and Debbie have done a great job with theirs. I know it’s part of their dream for more homes and Debbie has a dream for a creative school—your investment in their future is going to only help put more and more people productively back into our community as a blessing verse a curse as my life was, and Dennis’ life was—so thank you and may God bless all you do for the kingdom.