Judge's Leniency Gives One Criminal The Second Chance He Doesn't Deserve
“It just seemed like one big lie; the whole thing. Everybody around me just living a lie. My life was a lie.” Weldon Johnson was the picture of success. But in reality, his addictions were consuming him. “It was the drinking first, then coke, then coke and pills, coke, pills and weed; because, the weed helped me to get off the coke high. I went to work; I was a functioning drug addict.”
Weldon was trying to hide the pain that had followed him for much of his life. He never knew his real father, and after his mom and step-dad divorced, he tried to step into a role that at 15, he wasn’t ready for. “I felt like I had to be the protector, the man of the house and work. When the protector of your house is gone outside the house, you just feel abandoned. I tried to block out the reality. I worked. I saved my money.”
At 19, he started dating the girl of his dreams. “(If you) get somebody that's smart, pretty, on your team, working with you, that would make everything right,” “You’d come home, spend time together, do all these things; go to church – we went to church and all that stuff. I was mimicking what I thought would work in my life.”
Then she got pregnant, and they had to make a decision. “She asked me did I want to have the baby and I said, ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘but this is not a good time, I've just started my business.’ But it's never a good time. She was debating – going back and forth between, ‘do I want to be pregnant or do I want to be married and do this?’
They decided to have an abortion. “At the end, the child suffered. The killing of a child, to me personally, was like the lowest thing that a person could do. And then here I am failing miserably up to killing a child. I had nightmares.”
The relationship didn’t last, but the guilt over the abortion haunted Weldon. He tried to mask his pain by self-medicating. “I was trying to kill myself through drugs. I couldn't control this depression and the anger. I was getting more and more angry with life, with God, with my family, with everything that was going on.”
Over time, he was arrested on small charges and managed to avoid serious jail time; but, when he was stopped with a loaded gun next to him, he knew he was in trouble. “I got to the point that I said, ‘Something's got to give. I have to make a decision now to either to quit and walk away from the drugs, the money, all that lifestyle, or I'm not going to be here long.’”
One day another prisoner spoke to Weldon and some other inmates about God. “He said, ‘None of y'all are supposed to be here. This is not what the Most High has for your life.’ I saw myself as him (other prisoner) and I didn’t want to be him in prison. I wanted to be free, not just out of prison; I'm talking about the prison of the heart, what's in your mind. I wanted my mind to be free.”
“I went back to my room and right then said, ‘Lord either way I’m going to serve You. Whether I’m in or out, I want to give You what it is You want from me. And, that’s my heart.’
While out on probation, he went to church with a friend. He surrendered his life to Christ. “I went up there, man, and literally baptized myself with the tears, just letting go. And I knew that that release was that freedom that I've been looking for and I just cried and sobbed like a baby.”
By the time Weldon’s court date came, the judge had received numerous character references from his previous clients. “That judge looked at me and told me, ‘Now, I've never done this before for anybody, but you have a lot of people who think that you deserve a second chance and that you need to get your life right, Mr. Johnson. Now, whatever you're going through, you need to let it go, because if I catch you in this courtroom again, I'll throw away the key.’"
Weldon knew that God had moved on his behalf and given him a second chance.
Today, he’s married with a family and he’s grateful for his new life in Christ. “After struggling for years with identity, you can get to a point to where you can just accept what's happened to you. Forgive it. Don’t live bitter and don't live in an unforgiven state; and forgive yourself.”
“Jesus Christ to me, Yeshua, the Christ, the Living Word, is everything. While I was still a sinner, He died for me, and you and everybody else. Did no wrong. Sinless. Perfect. And said He loved me so much that He'd be willing to do this for me.”