A Light in a Dark Place
“Raised without a father, a mother who was a drug addict, in a neighborhood that had a lot of gangs,” is Dustin Hayes' explanation for ending up in prison.
After becoming homeless at 15, Dustin joined a gang because it provided the strongest sense of community in his neighborhood. When he was 18 years old Dustin and two friends were arrested in connection with a murder. “Me for giving a ride, one for supplying the gun, the other for committing the murder,” Dustin says.
While in prison Dustin met with Prison Prevention Ministries (PPM) volunteers. Although unable to leave his isolation cell, volunteers could speak to him through the door. They gave him a few C.S. Lewis books, “and that was where conviction of sin, a desire to live a different life, kicked in,'' says Dustin.
After eight months Dustin was moved out of isolation. Dustin feels it was God’s Grace that he was placed in a section that allowed Prison Prevention Ministries to host up to five Bible studies a week, and he attended frequently.
“It was through Prison Prevention Ministries’ volunteers that I first experienced the Christian community I was longing for,” Dustin says. “I was getting to read the Bible and talk about God more than most people in the free world. They were the highlights of my week.”
Eventually, Dustin was asked by PPM to share his testimony with groups of kids touring the prison. This was one of the three life-changing realizations for Dustin.
“I had people pouring into me on a weekly basis through the volunteers coming and teaching. Next, I had the chance to pour into others through talking to the youth. And finally, when I came up to sentencing, the volunteers believed in me and wrote letters to the judge on my behalf. And the judge gave me an amazing deal due to it.”
Since his release from prison, Dustin graduated from Covenant College. Dustin continues to give back to Prison Prevention Ministries by sharing his testimony in local schools and with our InZone program. “I get to connect with kids who need to see someone who’s been where they’ve been, and is now saved,” Dustin says. “The fields are white for the harvest; there are a lot of people who aren’t being reached.”