Jerimy Fordham

Hi. I am Jerimy and here is a little about me, unflattering as it might be. I have lived in Kansas City all my life. Grew up in the city in a broken family. Dad was in and out of jail with no real skills and mom was a crack addict, so I wound up living with my aunt for most of my childhood. Got involved with a gang in high school which was the start of a long downhill run. My aunt was very good to me and had a good head on her shoulders, giving me a ton of guidance when she saw I needed it and trying to help me with my schoolwork, which I had only a passing interest in.

But as it became apparent I wasn’t taking her advice, she kicked me out, not wanting to have to deal with all the drama she could see building up. I wound up in a half way house for awhile and was involved in all kinds of illegal activities. Following in my dads footsteps, I would up in jail. Actually got kind of comfortable there, making a lot of contacts and “friends” and coordinating drug sales and contraband transfers in and out of the jail.

After a few years of this, however, I began to long to be outside again and actually have a life. Many of the things my aunt told me were making me rethink my miserable lot in life. But what would I do? I was talking to a fellow prisoner one day, much older than me, and mentioned this to him and he busted out laughing. This was confusing to me. He finally said “dude, prison gets in your blood and will be a part of your life for the rest of your life. You are never really out, just taking a break!”.

This really weighed on me. I swore I would never be like my dad but here I was, doomed to the same life. I found some apprentice programs in the prison but they were hard to get in. I also was aware there was a prison ministry, called New Beginnings, which made visits and met with inmates who were willing to consider turning their lives around. While this was uncomfortable for me due to the mystery and uncertainty of it all, I decided to give it a try.

I was introduced to a preacher named Otis, a very religious man who I came to find out had a very similar background and upbringing as I did. This offered me some comfort because it made it clear that it was at least possible to become a decent human being and a productive member of society. Otis talked to me weekly about both spiritual things and also life things. Slowly I began to see the light, and eventually decided to give my life to God. I read the Bible daily and would make notes and review my questions when Otis came. We would sing hymns together and he advised me I had a very good voice. Not a skill I was ever aware of!

As my time in prison drew to an end, New Beginnings offered me a room to live in while I got my life straight, though it was only for three months, so I needed to get settled and a plan put in place quickly. I was finally released in April of 2015, having served 8 years. It was the happiest day of my life, and the love showed me by Otis and the other ministers helped me enormously in keeping my head straight.

It turns out the worst thing an ex-con can do is get back with the same crowd they hung out with before going in. I was determined not to do this, and never made an effort to reach out to any of those people.

During my time at New Beginnings, I spent time with a number of staff volunteers doing Bible studies but also just sharing life experiences. This helped me a lot. One of the volunteers was a very nice lady named Amanda. We sung a hymn together one evening and she seemed to have a gleam in her eye. Turns out she was the head of the Choir at Community Christian Church and invited me to attend. I was very uneasy about this because my past life was always floating in the back of my mind, and I was not used to being around so many decent people. I wondered how they would treat me if they knew the things I had done.

I was welcomed with open arms and became a member of the choir. I never felt so loved and appreciated. Turns out Amanda told them about my background prior to my getting there, and not a single one of them held any of it against me, reminding me of words my aunt once told me; “If you go around hating people your whole life, you will never be happy. Forgive and move on”.

I took a job with a small glass shower door company owned by one of the parishioners, and devoted my life to Christ and the Church. I now also work with the youth ministry at CCC helping as best i can with youth who are struggling. Life now has meaning and purpose, and I am thrilled to contribute to this blog in whatever ways I can.