Years in the past, pricey associates of mine took a trip to the Pacific coastal city of Zihuatanejo. Now, if Zihuatanejo rings a bell, it ought to. It was the Shangri-La described in “The Shawshank Redemption,” the last word vacation spot for the movie’s protagonist, Andy Dufresne, when he escaped jail.
“It’s in Mexico,” Andy mentioned. “Slightly place on the Pacific Ocean. Mexicans say the Pacific has no reminiscence. That’s the place I wish to stay the remainder of my life. A heat place with no reminiscence.”
Finally, Andy made it there, and the cultural reference opened Zihuatanejo as much as unprecedented tourism — together with my associates.
On that trip they stumbled one Sunday right into a English-speaking church service the place an American expatriate was preaching: Pastor John Sullivan. All of them grew to become quick associates, and Pastor John discovered a brand new circle of enthusiastic supporters right here in america.
After I met John for the primary time, not way back, it was over a Philly cheesesteak — a culinary surprise his spouse Beti (whom he met and married in Mexico almost 20 years in the past) had by no means skilled — a “sorpresa” (surpise) for certain.I requested John, “How did you find yourself with Andy Dufresne in Zihuatanejo?” He answered with out hesitation: “I began going there within the 1980s, once I was a cocaine smuggler.”
That was not precisely what I anticipated to listen to, however John went on to explain his wonderful journey, from a bantamweight prize fighter boxing everywhere in the nation, to a profitable enterprise proprietor, to fronting drug shipments for the Mexican cartels, to a years-long jail sentence in a federal penitentiary.
However whereas working on the jail train monitor one morning, he says God spoke to him. “You’re going to offer me your life,” the voice appeared to say. It was shattering. So, John stopped, fell to his knees on the asphalt, and in give up, “turned his will and life over to the care of God.”
When he completed his jail sentence, like Andy Dufresne let loose, he made for Zihuatanejo — not as a smuggler — however as a preacher. He was finally ordained by the Foursquare Christian Church, began a mission to minister to prisoners, has based a faculty, takes in children from the road, sponsors a number of soccer groups, supplies wheelchairs for the disabled, has helped begin a number of church buildings, and works immediately with the poorest of the poor who stay in his metropolis’s landfill.
Into his seventh decade now, however with the boundless vitality of a person half his age and the precociousness of a kid, he can’t cease sharing, dwelling, and proclaiming, “Good Information to the poor, launch for the captives, sight for the blind, and freedom for the oppressed,” for he has skilled these graces himself.
An admitted “ex-fighter, ex-con, however striving to by no means be an ex-Christian,” Pastor John Sullivan merely desires folks to be free — bodily, spiritually — utterly. His is a narrative of true redemption, and whereas the Pacific could haven’t any reminiscence, his life is not going to be shortly forgotten.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, pastor, and writer of a number of books. Go to his web site at ronniemcbrayer.org.
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