"I got 16 years to life." —Pastor Jeff Osborne
Jeff Osborn is a pastor who talks candidly about surviving prison and turning his life around. He was a kid, an army brat in a loving family who went to church, believed in God, and was brought up to come under authority.
But one day, when he was about 11, "Some men came to our house and told us we had two hours to get out. We stumbled into the streets of Los Angeles dragging bundles and bags, not knowing where to go." They slept on relatives' couches and in seedy hotel rooms until, finally, the family of six was reduced to living in a 1995 Lexus on the street.
Everything in his life had changed. At 11-years old, he believed God had left him. By the time he was 18, his buddies were tough, having also grown up on the mean streets of L.A. One night, he was driving them around as his friends robbed six people, then one of them began to shoot at a guy who didn't want to give up his jacket. That was Osborne's last night of freedom for a very long time.
Shaken and deserted in an L.A. police station he fell to his knees and cried out, "God, I have this Bible…everything in this book I'm going to inhale, but I need to know you are real." He says it was the moment God reentered his life. Because he was only 18, prosecutors cut him a deal: 16 years to life.
Things got very real. L.A. County Jail is one of the most dangerous places to be incarcerated in the nation. His desire to be accepted had led him down a path with people who didn't care about him. He lived in fear, and guilt hounded him, but by this time, Osborne knew he was there for a reason.
He says God reminded him of when, as a young boy, he prayed to be an evangelist.The weight of grief and guilt was getting lighter, and he knew that he was there to begin his ministry, turning hardened criminals, full of hate and vengeance, into followers of Jesus.
Pastor Osborne says, "If I look back on my life and all of my pain, I can honestly say that God was with me even in my mistakes." Today, he is a speaker, pastor, and still, an evangelist, one that is not that different from so many people who have been incarcerated and find themselves searching for acceptance and a second chance at life. That's the business UNITE INDY is in, because I know that I know...
There but for the grace of God go I,