Committed to the task of prison evangelism, Hope Aglow Ministries is an organization dedicated to reaching prisoners with the message of Christ's love. It is a ministry whose goal is not rehabilitation but regeneration.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Michael Vick says he wouldn't do anything differently...
"If you could do it all over again," said the inmate, his eyes meeting Vick's, "what's the one thing you'd do different?"
The answer was stunning. "Nothing," Vick said. "I mean, make some better choices. But I needed time to change. Everything happens for a reason."
Nothing? Vick would clarify his thoughts on the 94-mile bus ride back to Tampa. He'd come on the trip with his adviser, Tony Dungy, and volunteers from Abe Brown Ministries, the prison-ministry group with which Dungy has worked for the past 15 years. "As crazy as this sounds," Vick would say as the bus rolled past endless orange groves, "if I was standing outside a prison two years ago with what I know now, and you gave me the choice of going in and changing my life or staying out and continuing to live the life I was living, I'd go in. I'd change some things. The dogs, obviously. And maybe six months, not 17. But I needed to change. God gave me a timeout."
When Vick spoke to some 300 inmates in the courtyard at Avon Park, even the hangers-on in the back of the crowd, men who'd heard messages of hope before, stood in silent attention.
Vick told them that as a teenager he sometimes
slept with the Bible under his pillow, but
when he became a football star he
veered from the religious life.
He thought he could make up his own rules, and it cost him. "Going into prison was tough," he said. "You know that. There were days I wanted to lay down in my bunk, pull the covers over my head and cry. But I realized I wanted to live the right way. I wanted to be an instrument of change. That's what you have to do at the end of the day. No matter why you're in here, own up to your actions. Hold yourself accountable. Have a plan, so when you get outside those gates you're going to have a chance. This is not the end for you. This is not it! You control your destiny."*
Michael Vick served 17 months at a federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas in 2007, for his role in a dog-fighting operation. He recently returned to Avon park Correctional Institute to talk to the inmates there.
The article above is from a Sports Illustrated interview with Peter King.*
Vick attended college at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. He was drafted as a sophomore by the Atlanta Falcons and led them to the play offs twice. He ranks second among quarterbacks in career rushing yards.
After his arrest and subsequent incarceration, he lost his position with the Falcons, and was forced to file bankruptcy. He was picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009. After his release from prison, Vick was mentored by former Colts coach, Tony Dungy.
Dungy set a new NFL record for consecutive playoff appearances by a head coach. He is also an evangelical Christian and at one point in his coaching career considered leaving football for the prison ministry. Throughout his career, he has remained involved with community service organizations.
At Hope Aglow Ministries, we see the effects of incarceration for good or ill. Prison time can be a powerful change agent in the lives of men and women. Not everyone who comes out of prison has the resources of Michael Vick, but everyone who comes out of prison is just as important to our God. With the right tools and support, incarceration can be a catalyst for positive life change. It is difficult, but that's why we are here. We see the hopelessness and fear in the eyes of men and women in prison, they desperately need to believe they can make it on the outside. They need mentors and support systems like the kind Mr. Dungy provides.
Please consider supporting us as we deliver the good news that prison can be a new beginning, not the final chapter.