President Donald Trump’s second State of the Union address was held on Tuesday February 5th and his special guest has been making headlines. Matthew Charles is an ex-convict from Tennessee who gave his life to Christ in prison and is now a free man in every sense of the word.
Life behind bars
Matthew was sentenced to 35 years in 1996 for selling crack cocaine. His journey inside the prison system eventually led to an encounter with God. The encounter was real and life-changing. After Matthew’s conversion he became a role model to fellow inmates. He led Bible studies, became a law clerk, taught GED classes, and mentored his co-prisoners. Moreover, throughout his years in federal prison, he never had a single disciplinary infraction.
“Once I accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, that inward spiritual change started to reflect itself outwardly,” Charles said in an interview with Fox News.
“God used a lot of people to bring about my freedom,” Charles revealed in a recent interview with FOX 17.
Matthew’s life changed
After 20 years in prison, Matthew was released in 2016. After his release he continued to serve God and live as a productive member of society. He lived in Nashville and had a stable job as a driver. He also volunteered at a food pantry and reconnected with his family.
However, two years later, Matthew returned to the prison again after prosecutors appealed his sentence reductions and won. Unfortunately, he was expected to serve another 10 years inside a prison cell. It was heartbreaking news for Matthew but he kept his faith. He said that God is still in charge of the situation and pointed out that he would continue to be the same changed man because of God.
“Some see the changes and others don’t want to see [them],” he said. “But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to change back.”
“I didn’t do it for the US Attorney’s office to say, ‘Charles has been a good boy, let’s give him a break,’” he continued.
On the 21st of December 2018, President Trump’s First Step Act law was signed. FIRST STEP, an acronym that stands for “Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person”, reforms the federal prison system of the USA, and seeks to reduce recidivism. Matthew was the first prison inmate to be released under the First Step Act.
Today, Matthew’s release is being praised as “a story of redemption”, but we know his story isn’t finished. We praise God that Matthew’s Redeemer is still writing many more redemptive chapters.
This article was written by Christel Berns Villariza.