Kent and Belén Albright and their church in Salamanca, Spain, reach out to a segment of the population many want to write off: prisoners. A gospel tract they distributed in prison produced fruit in the life of Raimundo, who wrote this testimony:
The start of emptiness
I am from a small town in the northern Spanish province of León. My father died young from lung disease after working in the coal mines of Asturias. My mother did her best to raise us eight children, but most died in childhood. She is gone now, as is the only brother I knew, having died an alcoholic. My older sister and I became estranged many years ago.
Coping the wrong way
For years I have suffered from depression and fell into prescription drug use and abuse. I held jobs in various cities as a delivery man, construction worker, and feed and grain worker, but I couldn’t keep them very long. I married a woman from a Caribbean country, but she left me as soon as she got her residency papers. Without work and trying to cope with my broken marriage, I became addicted to antidepressant meds and hashish.
In October 2012, I was sentenced to a year in prison. My crime was demanding 25 Euros from a clothing store clerk. I was under the strong influence of valium and didn’t know what I was doing. After some jail time I was allowed to enter a secular rehabilitation center, but I quickly learned how to fake anxiety attacks to get more meds. After a particularly violent outburst, I was returned to prison.
Because I attempted to take my own life, I was interned in the prison’s psychiatric ward. I received two other sentences condemning me to 18 months and 6 months respectively. My wife’s divorce papers arrived, which depressed me even more. At first I thought the months in prison were relaxing. I had regular meals, a soft bed, and I didn’t have to hustle just to survive. But after a while I dreaded every day, hoping this nightmare would finally end.
Set free in prison
One day while I was alone in my cell with no books or television to entertain me, and I was stoned on prison meds, someone slipped me a tract from the Tormes Evangelical Baptist Church pastored by Kent Albright. I began to read it over and over again. As I learned more about God, I realized that I must indeed pay my debt to society, but that He would be with me while I endured this trial.
I wrote to Pastor Kent, and he and another Christian inmate visited me several times in the infirmary. He gave me a Bible and some study booklets, prayed with me, and even gave me a watch so I could keep track of the long, lonely hours. I discovered the gospel through those pamphlets and became a Christian after praying the prayer of salvation on the back of that first tract. However, little by little I became cold to the things of God and wanted to just live my life my way.
I know now that God never abandoned me, that he was always with me and was allowing me to live the truth of John 8:32, since I had met The Truth, and the truth of Jesus set me free. Because of that, I give thanks to God for allowing me to spend time in prison, where I had time to reflect and look to Him as the only way out of my dead-end life. I discovered the practical truth of Romans 8:28, that all things (even prison!) work together for good for those that love the Lord.
“His mercy and grace reached even me.”
I had a debt to pay to justice, and I had to pay it due to the errors and crimes I had committed. But I thank God that, even though His Son owed no debts to anyone, He paid my debt of sin for me on the cross so that I could be free from the slavery and imprisonment of sin. Everything is possible for God! He has a plan for the world, and I’m so glad that I’m part of His plan! His mercy and grace reached even me. I always wanted to fill the emptiness in my heart with things that never satisfied (Ecclesiastes 2:23), ignoring my real need to cry out to God.
I am now serving and working in a Christian center called RETO. Since I have no family, I have found my family here among other men who are discovering life with Jesus even though sin, crime, and addictions had ruined their lives. I love to serve with them and grow spiritually together. I am enjoying the new Ryrie Study Bible that Pastor Kent sent me and am enjoying his visits. I thank God for allowing him to be the valuable servant God used to bring me to Him. I hope this testimony will help someone else.