Earlier this year, back on Feb. 28, 2019, Winn, 23, angry at God, high on meth, and unsure of what happened in the dead of night, broke into Central Baptist Church in Conway, where he proceeded to destroy $100,000 worth of church property, including laptops, cameras, and other electronics.
Six months later, however, he walked into that same church in the light of day, entered the church's baptismal pool, and publicly declared his allegiance to Jesus Christ!
"As I'm starting to understand how God works, I've realized I didn't pick the church that night. God picked me," Winn told the Baptist Press. "If it had been any other church, I think I'd be sitting in prison right now."
Don Chandler, the senior pastor of Central Baptist, appealed to the judge in Winn's case to show mercy over judgment. "You can't preach something for 50 years without practicing it, especially in front of your whole church," Chandler told the Baptist Press.
"Had we not shown some grace to him, everything we've talked about and encouraged, would have gone by the wayside. It was simply the right thing to do. This was not a hardened criminal. This was a young man who had made some mistakes...he was redeemable."
The judge agreed to Rev. Chandler’s request and gave Winn the option of facing up to 20 years of incarceration or going to Renewal Ranch, a faith-based residential recovery program connected to the church. Winn chose Renewal Ranch with its 12-month program, broken up in two phases.
As a result, he starting attending services on Wednesday evenings at Central Baptist, the very church he had earlier vandalized. It was during one of those Wednesday night Bible studies that Winn gave his life to Christ and was baptized.
"I used to think it was a coincidence [that I chose to break into the church that night], but now I call it confirmation that God is real, and He answers prayers," Winn told BP. "What was weighing on my heart was that I needed a relationship with Jesus Christ."
The article reports that once Winn finishes the program, he will likely still spend a few years on probation. Nevertheless, one thing is sure. Brenton Winn is a new man with a second chance at life.
All this because a group of Christians chose to take seriously the admonition of the Apostle Paul as found in his New Testament Letter to the Ephesians (chapter 4, verse 32): "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you!"
They chose to extend to a troubled young man the same grace they themselves had received from their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In the process, both he and they were blessed!
STORY SOURCE: http://www.bpnews.net/53730/man-baptized-at-church-he-vandalized-6-months-earlier.
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: https://biblehub.com/ephesians/4-32.htm.