My name is Ronald Johnson. I was recently released from incarceration on June 1st, 2020. I served a lengthy prison term for various crimes ranging from robbery to assaultive behaviors. My criminal liability spans 2/3 of my life. This made acclimating into mainstream society very difficult to achieve. I consistently felt like the “elephant in the room” around my family. I was spiritually and emotionally bankrupt when I was released back into society. On top of that, my perception of myself was very strewed, leading to morbid and toxic depression. But what ultimately became my life-line, my source of hope, was Open Door Ministries and the staff there.
Not only was I provided the necessities to gain a solid footing, but I was provided the greatest asset going forward—daily selfless direction by the staff at Open Door. I was given the chance to grow into my new life with their support and encouragement, which helped me see myself differently. This caused me to stop beating myself up for who I had allowed myself to become, someone that was not truly me. I am a friend, a father, and a valuable man in society.
Today I am not who I was–one placed in a life of crime and self-induced self-destruction. I had not had the opportunity to feel that my growth was possible. Now I know that all I had to do was allow others the chance to help me. And help me they did! They provided me with medical assistance, counseling, and put me in contact with service agencies I needed to get even more help, so that I could rebuild my life.
I come from a childhood background that I feel no one on the planet would volunteer for. It literally was a house of horrors. Loneliness and feeling unworthy of love were all I experienced. Today I have a strong support base, full-time employment, and a renewed sense of self. I was given time to heal and to forgive myself for my past deeds and subsequent prison sentences. I feel I am a man of high character and integrity, who has learned to give himself a break. The encouragement from the Executive Director to the volunteers has been a blessing.
When you come from a 20+ year prison sentence like I did, you feel that the staff at institutions will be jaded by the ones who don’t make it. Open Door gave me the tools I needed to succeed. Along with their support, it has been an epic experience!
With my goal of working towards a functional life, I can keep myself balanced, and it encourages the selfless things that have been incorporated in my life by Open Door. I am grateful for this, as it makes me humble and encourages me to match all their support. I now take their suggestions they have offered and pay it forward to the next person.
The greatest lesson I’ve learned while here is that there’s a different choice from who I believed I was. Looking back, I see someone who was trapped in his own self-seeking behaviors, never giving real change a chance to happen. Looking forward, Open Door has restored my faith in people, and myself. My growth as an individual can be directly attributed to the staff here who encouraged me to realize that the face of a miracle looks just like me! And for that, and the little things along the way, I am grateful.