Devin Bennett Testimony

I was born in Broward County in 1980, ever since then my life has been bad and crazy. I came from a good family, but my parents had problems. They divorced when I was born as my birth couldn’t help solve their problems. When I was young, my mom overdosed on drugs, I witnessed this happen and watched as she laid dying. As I cried by a table in the kitchen, paramedics brought her back.

Since it was decided that the environment with my mom was unstable I was forced to live with my dad. Living with my dad was just living in a different house and it never felt like home. His girl would punish me by smacking me around whenever I did something wrong. All I ever remembered was drugs, drinking, and fighting all hours of the night. Bed bugs would be so bad that they would bite me and keep me awake. It was rare that I ever got a good night’s sleep. This same routine of madness occurred for several years of my young life.

Then one day my mom called in 1986 telling me she had changed and so I went back to stay with her. It’s the start of first grade and mom does seem to have changed. She’s working hard at the Ridge making tips waiting tables. It wasn’t until 1987 that the positive change turned bad once again when my mom began drinking again making me very sad. Liquor bottles by the bed, pills in the glove box, seeing late night drunk fights, busting my lunch box, a He-man Edition Castle of Grey Skull, a gift from my mom, because of another lie she told.

I was angry with my mom, the life we were living. Seeing her having sex for drugs, money, and attention that warped my perspective in how I saw a mother. Instead of being a mother, she was more concerned about being someone’s lover. I would see men touching her. What I saw being done to her, I imitated, not knowing why it was wrong. When she pushed me away, I felt even more pain and rejection. Feelings that would affect me more as they manifested.

It’s 1989, mom has overdosed again. I remember lights being everywhere and my mother is barely breathing. What’s I’m witnessing is like Déjà vu all over again. As the paramedics are leaving, my dad is retrieving me.

My dad and his girl are in NA Meetings now and I remember being hyper and playing inside the building. Now that my dad and his girl are sober, things were much better but with all the back n’ forth, I’m really struggling in school. Wanting to be accepted I’m misbehaving in class. I was getting into a lot of trouble and my grades were bad.

I’m in 5th grade now and I’m running away from home. My stepmother had become very abusive and I’m spending most of my time in the streets. My dad started drinking again. I’m sure my behavior didn’t help. My bad behavior was an expression of the feeling I felt. The pain, fear, and anger had me hurting inside.

I was only 11 years old when I started getting high. In the Summer of 92 I was sent to a reform school. I would break into cars, trying to prove how cool I was. I began trying different things for acceptance and love, even sexual acts with a boy but it all just made me more mindful of not understanding my feelings and feeling even more worthless and ashamed. None of these feelings were mu fault but it didn’t stop me from having them.

In 93 my dad is now doing drugs again in addition to drinking. None seems to know where my mom is as she’s just missing in action. I’m now living with my cousin, giving me a brand-new start. My cousin’s family tried to make me feel at home, but I soon wore out my welcome by my terrible behavior. I was still skipping school, stealing, smoking weed in their home. Sadly, it’s always later that we learn how stupid we are.

I finally found what I needed in life, but my heart chooses not to accept it and instead I chose to reject it.

It’s now mid 1996 and I’m still on the wrong road. I’m smoking marijuana with my friend Chico and writing graffiti on walls. I got busted selling dope by an undercover officer near my school. I was sent to rehab and they tried to help me. In spite of their advice, my poor choices would continue. I was in and out of detention, rehab, and group homes. I was in a constant state of rebellion, and my head was harder than a stone.

Running from the police, I was running from myself. I was living a life of insanity, hurting all the people trying to help me. In the summer of 99 I met the woman who would give birth to my son. She was unlike anyone I had ever know and she was more than just a lover. With her, I felt amazing and I was certain I had found ‘the one.’

Afraid she would leave me because I was still messing up, I got her pregnant in October. It made things much worse because I wasn’t ready to be a father. Over the next 9 months, I continued being selfish. I pretended like my life was something, but really my life was bleak. My day to day aspirations were money, sex, and weed.

In June 2000, right before the birth of my son, I was in an accident that left me in a coma for two days. The day that I woke up was the same day my son was born. The amount of love he brought me replaced my love of money, drugs, or anything else and I knew it was time to invest in my son because he needed his dad.

I was ready to get help with the problems I had. I went to a court date for a charge in 99’. I told the Judge that I needed help and I wanted to change my life and be the dad my son deserves. He ordered me into treatment but he gave me a month so I could have time to spend time with my son.

Things were really hard, and I struggled without weed. I needed weed to keep my mind at ease. I was angry and impulsive and had mood swings. But what happened next, is my single worst regret. Even after 13 years it’s hard to express.

I remember waking up and my son started crying. Nothing I did for him helped and I grew angry from trying. The more I failed, the angrier I became. Until eventually my anger turned into rage. What happened next wasn’t intentional, but my actions were wrong regardless if they were intentional or not and it’s all my fault that he’s gone.

When I was asked what happened, I told many lies and not the truth. Because of my lies and the injuries he suffered they charged me with child abuse. While I was sitting in County Jail, my son Brandon died.

Now charged with First Degree Murder, I couldn’t attend my son’s wake. I made bail later, but I was still in chains. Only now the chains that remain were the guilt and the pain. This caused my anger and addiction to more of the same, making my dad, girl and family further victims of my pain.

Yet in spite of my wicked heart God still reached for me in 2003. His hand was in the form of a plea. 20 years or a death sentence was the choice I had to decide. Would I accept God’s hand or continue in my lies? Held captive by fear, I was unwilling to deal. I ignored God’s hand, the ugly truth I concealed. My trial started a week later, and my lies continued. I had my chance at justice but chose to decline. After a short deliberation, the jury sentenced me to death. None of that really mattered to me because I was already dead.

A few months after I was sentenced to die, my father passed away from heart failure and then my mother was dead nine months later from suicide. After dad died, I felt more hurt and pain. He tried to love me but in return all I gave was pain. The lying and the stealing, steady making him my mark, my dad died from heart failure because I broke his heart.

All the loss in my life pushed me further into darkness so I stuck to what gave light, even though that never lasted. The next 8 years my demons became smarter, each day was a test and the tests were getting harder. At the school of desperation, lessons were insane. I was covering guilt and pain with dirt from my own grave.

In 2012, I went on hunger strike, protesting prison conditions and constitutional rights. After 19 days, I was broken on my knees. Found myself looking for God and needing to believe. The next 9 months I was in transition. Leading to that sermon on Urban by Miles McPherson. Calling all listeners to a 40 day fast, then I heard the same voice that I had heard once in the past.

“Let go of the lies, surrender it all to God,” but I was too afraid to confess what I’d done. Still a fast began from all things secular. No TV or music. No books or magazines, only time inside the Bible giving God the lead. I started in Matthew, but it was in the Book of John where God gave strength to overcome the problem. Then the nightmares started with thoughts of suicide. That was the first night Satan came to my bedside. For the next 6 days he’s pay me a visit. Bringing the past along, forcing me to relive it.

My dad and family, my baby and his mom. I had a front row seat too all the evil I had done. Satan was trying to keep me, I had been here before, so I knew the way of escape was surrender to the Lord.

Drowning in pain in the chains of my guilt, fear, and shame, there was the strength God gave to help reach for His mercy and it was as I reached the chains, they were lifted off me. I was set free and resurrected to new life, by the grace, love, and mercy of God in Jesus Christ, according to His power, He’s now bringing restoration by allowing me in Christ to work out my salvation.

In the eyes of man I’m unworthy of forgiveness, but in the face of condemnation, His Grace is sufficient. Because I accepted Christ, don’t mean all problems disappear but in Him I’m an overcomer, no longer bound by fear.

He’s building new bridges, over a few I have burned. All while giving me consolation, allowing me to endure. Yet the consolation He gives must serve another purpose. That I may be a light of hope to those still hopeless.

All I’ve endured let’s me be more things to man. Through which Christ shines His Light now living within. His Glory’s in my Story, this is why I’m sharing it with the world. Praying the hope and love of Jesus Christ reaches every boy and girl.

By: Devin Bennett