I’ve been reintroduced to Christ
John Scott made a lot of mistakes in his life. Eventually, he ended up behind bars. But he always carried a copy of 2 Chronicles 7:14 with him.
“I always believed in God,” John says, recalling how his mother and aunt took him to church as a youngster. “I was a believer in God the whole time, I was just rebellious … very rebellious.”
Growing up on the gritty streets of Newark, N.J., as a teenager, John’s life spiraled out of control.
“I was caught up in violence and then drugs began to play a part in my life,” he recalls. “I was reckless and running the streets and just trying to blend in with the neighborhood crowd.
“My life turned for the worse. I needed to get out, but never had a clue on how to get out.”
John ended up doing two years in prison, but once he got out at age 31, a pastor who lived in his neighborhood told him about the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) program in Rochester, N.Y.
The prison experience had “opened my eyes,” John said. He knew changes had to be made and he decided to head for Rochester in 2004, despite living his entire life in New Jersey.
“As I got on the train to travel 324 miles from New Jersey to Rochester, I wondered, ‘Where am I going? What am I doing?’” John says.
Looking back, John calls that train ride the seminal moment of his life when he cried out to God, knowing that he would never return to New Jersey or to his bad habits.
“I believe that train ride was a turning from my wicked ways.”
John said that when he arrived, he knew little about The Salvation Army, but was amazed at what he learned.
“I started realizing the Army is way bigger than I ever imagined,” he says. “The officers and the staff were pretty amazing. It was genuine. If I was willing to change, they were willing to help, and they were sincere.”
Jennifer Helpard, administrator of the ARC, said, “God has made a definite change in John’s life.”
John was further amazed that once he graduated from the program in November 2004, he applied for a job at the ARC—and was hired.
“I thought, ‘Wow, a guy with my background? A guy with my criminal history?’ They really don’t judge me at all,” John says.
John has held several positions at the ARC, including residence supervisor, intake coordinator, and counselor. He now leads worship at the ARC every Sunday and is the choir director.
“I’ve been reintroduced to Christ,” he says. “Because God always knew my heart, it was easy for me to accept Him in my life when I was thinking correctly and didn’t have a substance in my system to detour me.
“As I accepted Christ into my life and became born again, I began to treat people how Christ would treat them. With the compassion The Salvation Army gave me, I was able to give that to the next person.”
Major Richard Bosh, the ARC’s chaplain, said John was serious from his first day.
“He came here with the idea of changing—and he did,” Bosh said. “He had a tremendous spirit and God got ahold of it.
“If we had a few more men like John Scott, we could turn the whole world around.”
by Robert Mitchell