From Pulpit to Prison
Updated: Feb 5
I am sure you might wonder why a man at the time having been in ministry for over 29 years, a candidate for pastorate at three different churches, and preaching across the country weekly killed his wife in a sudden unanticipated moment of passion.
It is a haunting question I seek to answer daily. I cannot honestly say my life was a sinless life, which to a degree contributed to my fall from grace. I lived in fellowship with peers in ministry that condoned the practice of sin. Many of the pastors I associated with practiced fornication and adulterous behavior. I believe the unhealthy environment I was in contributed to my failures.
No one actually told me to get into a provocation with my wife, but once you start sinning you lose your sense of spiritual judgement.
Since my incarceration God has answered many of my prayers. One of which was to be able to sit down face to face with my wife’s mother and tell her how deeply sorry I am for taking her only child from her. In another prayer, I wished for my wife’s mother to forgive me.
In 2010, my wife’s mother came to prison to visit me. It was during this visit that she told me, “I have forgiven you. I don’t believe you wanted to kill my daughter. I wish you hadn’t been given so much time.” During the nearly two-hour visit we laughed and cried together. But the most impactful experience was holding her hand in a departing prayer. The preacher, the prisoner who took a mother’s daughter’s life, was in prayer with the mother. Only God could make something like that happen.
In prison, God has allowed me to be a light for Christ, and to do as a pastor once told me: “You have to blossom and bloom where you are.”
I have been able to lead people to Christ and minister to my broken-hearted fellow inmates here. I have been able to minister to officers as well. One officer came to me confidentially and said, “Reverend, I am contemplating suicide.” God used me to pray and refer to his Word to cancel out these negative thoughts. I have also been given opportunities to preach during our Sunday worship services, and in 2017 became the first prisoner ever accepted into North Park Theological Seminary’s Master of Arts in Christian Ministry program.
As a result of my acceptance, North Park has since accepted 39 more inmates at Stateville Correctional Center into this program. It is a goal of mine to become Stateville’s Inmate Resident Pastor. This will enable me to reshape my legacy, as well as many of my fellow inmates’ legacies. Not to mention, to help create a more peaceful and safe environment.
If you are reading this, please pray for us at Stateville. Pray that those of us in Christ will be used to lead others to Jesus and help disciple them. I also have a personal prayer request: that I receive proper medical attention as soon as possible.
If my words have moved you, will you also consider investing in the academics of those who are in training to be qualified ministers to our fellow inmates? Click here to learn more about the School of Restorative Arts at Stateville Correctional Center and consider blessing the students with a financial gift.
Shalom and Agape!
Rev. John E. Taylor