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PALO VERDE VALLEY TIMES, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2018  B7

Ironwood State Prison hosts HOPE event


BY CATHYLEEN RICE
TIMES REPORTER

On C, E and D yards at
Ironwood State Prison
on last Saturday, the
Prison Hope Fellowship
ministries partnered
with training centers
from the San Diego and
San Bernardino area
to bring inspiring rap-
pers and a world renown
skateboarder to offer
hope to inmates.
Annually hosting this
event once a year at ei-
ther Chuckawalla State
Prison or ISP, the local
field director of Prison
Fellowship, Lloyd Les-
sard said these pro-
grams are provided to
inmates to shape their
lives while incarcerated
and giving them a God-
filled hope for life after
prison.
Sharing how God’s
reach on man is not lim-
ited, Lessard said, “We
basically come in to
bring in these programs
to offer hope, because
there is only one way of PHOTOS BY CATHYLEEN RICE/PALO VERDE VALLEY TIMES
getting out of what these ABOVE: SHARING HIS TESTIMONY THROUGH SONGS  of
inmates have done, and rap he wrote himself, Matt Conant said his newfound
it’s only through Jesus
Christ.” life is about reaching the masses and helping inmates
With Christian based turn from evil and giving their lives to God. LEFT:
rap music being belted Bringing hope to inmates across the Golden State of
out by “Lifer” Matt California, the Prison Fellowship ministry annually
Conant through words of hosts “HOPE” events regionally to help inmates readied
wisdom shared about his themselves for life after prison. Ironwood State Prison
life of crime and renew- and Chuckawalla HOPE coordinator Llyod Lessard said,
al, Conant told the in- “We basically bring in these programs to offer hope,
mates at ISP his testimo- because there is a way of getting out of what these
ny of how God restored
inmates have done and it’s only through Jesus Christ.”
him in prison and made
him into a better person Given the chance to sage” organization shar- use our stories to help diately, “because I didn’t and coming up for the al-
outside the prison doors. change his life around, ing with inmates how other families so they want to live with the tar call to give their lives
He shared, “God can after the horrendous fall the impact of the crimes don’t have to go through pain of not forgiving, be- to Christ, Lessard and
open any door. It’s so his life took as he went they commit affect not what we did.” cause when you do that, the Prison Fellowship
easy to always do wrong, from making $40,000 a only the parents of the Sharing that her you give the other per- directors and volunteers
which can only land you month as a professional victims, but also their daughter killer was re- son power.” were happy to see the
in here or in the grave, skateboarder at 16 years families as well, Ortiz morseful during sen- As the hours rolled prisoners learn of God’s
but this is where you can old to being a homeless gave her personal testi- tencing and relaying to on and the inmates be- forgiving grace and lov-
learn to do right. man digging out of the mony of overcoming evil her that he didn’t mean gan participating in the ing mercy from people,
I did 25 years and just trash can for food, the with good. to kill her, Ortiz said concert, learning how to who once been in their
got out last year. I just man who once sponsored She said, “Back in she forgave him imme- do skateboarding tricks shoes.
want to uplift God for by VANS, told inmates, 2009, my daughter was
keeping me in every sit- “My purpose right here killed at a party. What I
uation. I know God had is to see men change, be- went through after she
his hands on me.” cause God didn’t design died, I shortly converted
Relaying to inmates you guys for this. I lost to Christianity, because
how there’s room for im- enough over a substance she was a Christian and
provement, growth and (heroin), I thought I was I felt closer to her since
being reincarnated into a man, but because of doing so.”
the person God made pride, it took me down, Since forgiving the
them to be, Conant also but I like seeing men person who murdered
shared, “There’s room united with their fami- her daughter, Ortiz said
for you on the straight lies and their kids. I like she has been on a mis-
and narrow. I was a sin- seeing men free and used sion every day to talk
ner to the fullest. I was as a man of God. and encourage children
on a crooked path. He “God loves you. He al- to make better life choic-
showed me mercy and ways has and he always es and to teach inmates
grace, so I will speak will. There are so many about victim impacting.
the gospel of truth until people out there advocat- To the Times, Ortiz
there’s nothing left of ing for you, who worries shared, “I tell my story
me.” about you and loves you, to inmates, to help them
Also inspired by Den- but you must take care understand the impact
nis Martinez, the 1977 of business here,” Marti- of what they have done,
World Freestyle Cham- nez said before the altar the people it affects---not
pion skateboarder, ISP call. just the victim’s but also
inmates heard how Mar- Happy with the mes- their parents and all the
tinez’s life went from sage of hope the men loved ones they leave be-
riches to rags and back were sharing with the hind.
to being whole again, be- inmates, Lessard said, The guy who killed
cause of salvation. “today’s event is just one my daughter received 85
Sharing with the pris- avenue of getting the in- years in prison, and dur-
oners on D yard, Mar- mates involved and help- ing his sentence he was
tinez told the men how ing them give their lives killed by a guard. Now
important it should be to Jesus.” his mother and I are
to them to replace their As the event took a friends, because we both
life of crime by working sorrowful turn with Lisa share the same pain.
hard to get out of prison Ortiz, a representative of That’s why I work with
and still being a father to the “Moms With a Mes- youth diversion, and we
their children.
He reminded them,
“You still have a chance
to be a father, you guys
have to make a change
and take the door of op-
portunity. Freedom is
right now. You have to
own up to your crime
and don’t try to mini-
mize it. There are oppor-
tunities out here where
people are going from
LWOP (Life without pa-
role) to a lesser sentenc-
ing — lifers.”

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