Intro by Dale Russell
We visit our seven prison facilities at least once per quarter. The current subject for our run of presentations is “Redemption”. There are a variety of ways to approach this. The following definitions of redemption came from artists at Snake River Correctional, at 10 years, our longest running art program. We asked them to express their thoughts and trust the following statements bring you to a better understanding of how their claim to be “World Changers” with the Otino Waa children is active and true.
GOD GRANTING PERMISSION
When one has a troubled past, it is a constant burden of self-doubt, anxiety and fear, lying just under the surface of who you are trying to become. There can be questions of who you are and if your place in this world has any meaning. So when I think of redemption, I think of the permission God grants us to let go. Let go of the past, the shame, the guilt and fear of what you once were. It’s my hope the art I share expresses the irrefutable truth that a redeemed life is a great life. J. LaFontaine
CHANGING YOUR MIND ABOUT ME
There are many types of prisons. Some people take theirs with them wherever they go. Einstein once said, “You cannot solve problems with the same mind that created them.” Once you understand the mind of helping others, you will also understand that a mind can change. If you change your mind you can change your world. Time in prison has freed me to change many things. J. Pace
There hasn’t been a day go by for me that I don’t think of the hurt and disappointment I’ve caused and the regrets that go with that. It cuts like a knife into my soul. I want to tell them how very sorry I am and wish I could go back to that moment. I can’t do that. What I can do though, is look at the man standing in the mirror and pray for a better person. I have spent much time doing such and now my art and the good that comes from it, allows me to see a different person in that mirror.
I have things I can give and share with others. I can help my community and that has spread to amazing connection in Uganda with the Otino Waa kids. My art allows me to express myself while being able to generate help to so many others. It seems redemption has taken on a much deeper meaning than I had ever imagined. R. Thomas
I have made some big mistakes and poor decisions in my life, but non greater that what led to my downfall. When I first received my lengthy sentence from the court, I remember thinking life was over. How could I ever overcome broken hearts, broken dreams and broken people? The future? There was none for me and I just started drifting through weeks and years, simply existing.
With time, determination and help from others, I looked for a clear sense of what was really important. While guys around me were still glorifying their misdeeds, reputations and reckless lifestyles, I wanted more. One of the first things I had to do was let go of my past. It has no room in my future.
When I first heard of Visions of Hope, Otino Waa and the art project, I knew it was my calling. Now I could help others around the world with my talent. What an amazing thing! What an opportunity! I have grown, changed and hope others see how far I have come. It’s very personal to me that I do not have to be defined by my past. My prison # might suggest a past, but my actions, my mind and my heart say otherwise. If you can sense a change, then redemption is right here. R. Pierce