“Confinement is where I learned to be free.” – Michael Delgado
“Confinement is where I learned to be free,” said Michael Delgado. “I learned the importance of faith and God’s Word in a jail cell. God separated me from the darkness of everything I idolized so I could learn to live in the light.
“From age 18 to 23, I was arrested a dozen times for everything from public intoxication to a violent crime. I drank and did drugs daily and tried just about anything I thought would satisfy me. Angry, impatient and manipulative, I lied to everyone to gain status or put money in my pocket. I never cared about anyone else.
“I was raised by my single mom who worked two jobs to support me and my brothers. My dad was in the picture when I was 11, but he left shortly after. All I remember from childhood was my search for someone to love me.
“I thought I found love in a girlfriend I met in 7th grade. After high school and two kids later, we broke up, and I lost every friend I had.
“At 23 years old, I had my first serious car wreck after driving 70 miles per hour and falling asleep at the wheel. I walked away from the accident with no consequences. A year later, I would not be so lucky.
“I was intoxicated and under the influence of drugs. I crashed my car into a wall. My head slammed into the steering wheel as my car hurled down a hill. I woke up in the hospital with a bruised spine, short-term memory loss and a huge cut on my forehead.
“I was bed-ridden for a while and not a single ‘friend’ visited me. I spent time with people every day. Where were they? Just like me, they spent their days drunk and sleeping. I felt alone, hurt and unloved.
“After I recovered, a friend invited me to church with him. When I started coming to Watermark, I still had one foot in the door and the other in the bar scene. But I got to know people at Watermark and built a community of guys around me. My friend, Bryan Robert, whom I met while going to Open Community Group after The Porch, constantly reminded me that although I felt lonely, I was never alone. Christ died for me on the cross, and He loved me. That was hard to understand at first. I viewed Christ like my father – someone who was distant and constantly disappointed in me.
“I learned who Christ really was when I went to Equipped Disciple classes at Watermark. Through prayer and reading God’s Word, I discovered that Christ wanted a relationship with me. For the first time, I felt loved. That’s when my life turned around – my friends, my speech and everything I did changed.
“My new life with Christ had begun, but I was still in trouble for what I had done when I was living for this world. After several appearances in court, I was sentenced to a year in prison. Although I would miss my family and friends, I told the judge I was willing to go wherever the Lord wanted me. Prison is a scary place, but I went in with, ‘the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.’ (Philippians 4:4-7)
“A relationship with the Lord was the only way to get through prison without going crazy. I cried the first time I held a Bible in prison. I had nothing to do but read God’s Word all day long, every single day. Although I was separated from the people I loved, God drew me close to Him.
“People noticed that I read my Bible every day, and men started looking to me for guidance. I met with other prisoners each morning to pray and share something from God’s Word. Some of those guys will never see the outside world. Others thought they were going to Hell for what they’d done. I explained that they could be forgiven through the free gift of grace available through Christ.
“The other inmates also noticed that my community group came to visit me often. They saw the letters I got each week and how my friends tried to lift my spirits. Those visits and letters gave me a chance to explain why I had God-given peace and fellowship with my community group even in confinement.
“After three months, my name was called for what I thought would be a transfer to the penitentiary. I started packing up and telling the guys to keep following the Lord after I left. On January 18, 2014, I stepped out of jail. But rather than being transferred to a different prison, I went home. God’s work for me at that point in time, was finished. After months behind bars, it was time to see what God had for me in the outside world.
“It’s been a wild ride since then. I’m working. I’m a better father to my kids. And I’m in community with a great group of guys here at Watermark. It’s unimaginable how far God has brought me.
“Sometimes people ask me why I was gone so long, and I worry about others judging me. But because of what Christ has done, I don’t feel guilt and shame. I talk about how God used me in a mighty way in jail. I want people to know I have hope, and all of this has, ‘turned out for my deliverance.’ (Philippians 1:18-19)”