A former drug addict who was recently baptized in the church he burglarized earlier this year is speaking out about his miraculous encounter with God’s redemption. Brenton Winn was hell-bent on his own destruction when he entered Central Baptist Church in Conway, Ark., on Feb. 28 — but God had different plans.
Winn, 23, who was high on methamphetamines after relapsing from a faith-based recovery program, broke into the church, destroying $100,000 of church property, Baptist Press reported. The young man didn’t pick Central Baptist for any particular reason — all he knew was that he was mad a God, and he “felt desperate.”
After completing a two-week recovery program in 2016, Winn stayed clean for a year, getting a job at a local Lowe’s store. He traces his relapse back to September 2017, right after his cousin committed suicide. Soon, he was homeless, hopeless, and full of anger toward God.
Last month, Winn stood before the congregation whose house of worship he’d wrecked months before, and received the sacrament of baptism from Associate Pastor Mike Lefler. He says he believes God used his bad intentions for good, even guiding him to Central that night back in February, knowing all the damage he would cause.
“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 Baptist Press. “If it had been any other church, I think I’d be sitting in prison right now.”
It all began when Senior Pastor Don Chandler met with the prosecutor on his case just days after Winn vandalized the church. For Chandler, forgiveness wasn’t an option — it was an imperative.
“You can’t preach something for 50 years without practicing it, especially in front of your whole church,” Chandler told 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 on drugs and alcohol when he did what he did. But he was redeemable.”
Pastor Chandler believed Winn was “redeemable” even when he didn’t, and that single act of mercy proved to be the catalyst for turning his life around.
Winn had been dependent on drugs most of his life. Though he was raised in a “God-fearing,” church-going home, he said he began experimenting with methamphetamines at age 14. By age 16, he was a daily user.
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SOURCE: Faithwire, Carly Hoilman