WATCH: One Man’s Inspiring Journey From Gang Violence and Prison Time to Prison Ministry

When Kwabena was in third grade, he came home one evening to see his mother’s boyfriend putting a needle in her arm.

“My reaction was to cry. I was scared for her,” he recalls.

“I didn’t know what my mom was dealing with, or what she was going through. Normally when needles are involved, there’s something wrong. Later that night I came back out of the room and I walked down the steps and I saw my momma walking in the living room. Her eyes were so big I thought she was a ghost. She kissed me on the forehead and told me to go back to bed and get some rest. I got up the next day, and she was gone–and she didn’t come back for three days.”

Although she tried, Kwabena’s mother could never conquer her addictions. “Even though we stayed in the projects, my mother kept the house clean,” he says. “She pretty much kept a hot meal on the table. Her worst downfall was the men that she allowed into her life.”

For much of his young life, Kwabena, or ‘Beno’ had limited contact with his father. When his mother was eventually sent to jail for drugs, he found another family in the streets. “The reason why I joined gangs is not because I was a killer or I was just hard-core or anything like that. I was just looking, for what basically every man, woman, boy and girl wants in this world, which is love, acceptance and purpose,” Beno says. “People use gangs to medicate pain just like people use opium to medicate pain.”

Selling drugs and gang affiliations brought Beno protection and profit–but it also led him to jail.

“My first charge came about when I was in high school,” Beno says. “I was in the 12th grade, about to finish up school, and I caught an aggravated robbery charge.”

Beno spent most of his 20s in prison. While there, he got an education on the history of his gang and how to be a better criminal.

“Grown men don’t join gangs; children do. And a child is going to look and see where he fits in best. My heart began to harden because the love for my homies led to a hard heart toward our enemies. I learned more about the gang I was involved in, how it all originated, and our mission, and that’s when the devil entered into my heart and my mind and my life, and I wanted nothing more in life than to commit to this family.”

See how God freed Beno in this moving story.

SOURCE: CBN 700 Club