Knowledge and credentials

Knowledge and Credentials with CLI and CLA

My name is Jeremy Sanford, and I am studying at Christian Leaders Institute to gain Bible and ministry knowledge and credentials (Learn more about online Bible courses, Click Here).

I was born in Lufkin, Texas, in 1980. I was in bondage and a slave to the enemy, Satan, for thirty-eight years of my life. As the Apostle Paul said, “I was the chief of sinners,” and this I was. Drugs and alcohol were part of most of my life. By the time I hit rock bottom, I had abandoned my wife and children on a binge that lasted over a year.

My Spiritual Journey Began in Jail

Then the greatest thing happened to me, I was put in jail. While in jail, I sobered up and realized all the pain, hurt, and destruction I had caused to my family, myself, and my community. My mother sent me a new Bible through the mail, and I read it. Then, I cried out to God with so much sorrow in my heart. I repented for all the sins I had committed and asked Jesus to be Lord of my life. On January 28, 2019, I surrendered my life to God. I was born again that day! A weight lifted and a peace I have never known came over me.

I wanted nothing more than to know God fully. I had a fire inside my soul burning for a real relationship with Jesus. Reading and studying the Bible for hours on end, I couldn’t get enough. I stayed in constant communion with God in prayer being led and guided by the Holy Spirit. For the first couple of weeks, I didn’t speak much because cursing and lying were all I had ever done. However, that man had died with Christ on the cross. So, I really had to think before I spoke and guard my tongue. I wanted to be obedient to Christ and not ruin my testimony in any way.

Seeking Restoration

The day I went to court to get my sentence, I prayed to God. I told Him I was going to accept the first offer they gave me even if it was 20 years in prison. I knew that I deserved hell for all the things I had done and the people I had hurt. They offered me 5 years in TDCJ, and I said, “I will take it!” My lawyer said, “Hold on, don’t you want to see if I can get you 2?” But I said, “No, I want the 5.”

Back at the jail from the court, I called my wife for the first time in a long time. I told her I just signed for 5 years in prison. She said, “I’m sorry, but you will be getting divorce papers in the mail.” It was a tough blow, but I deserved every bit of it. That day, I cried out to God and said, “Father, I love my wife and kids and I want to be obedient to your Word.” Then, I pleaded for the restoration of my family. And even if it was God’s will that my wife divorced me and moved on, I vowed to never be with another woman again. I would love my wife and provide for her for the rest of my days.

That day, I started writing “Shanie’s Prayers” (my wife’s name is Shanie). I wrote her a prayer every day. After I got about a week’s worth, I would mail them to her. I did this faithfully. After about 6 months of hearing nothing back, I prayed for God to show me my family was okay. My spirit said to write and ask. So, I wrote my wife a letter just asking if she and the kids were okay.

God Gave Restoration

After I put it in the mailbox and got back to my dorm, the guard came in with the mail. It was from my wife, and I could see through the envelope it was typed. My heart sank thinking it was divorce papers. I opened the letter typed by my wife. She wrote, “What God put together, let no man separate not even the man who abandoned his family!” I clasped on my bunk in tears because God had answered my prayers. I was so excited!

So, I wrote her another letter telling her I wanted her and the kids to visit me but to let me pray about it first because I wanted God’s okay. After a few weeks, I woke up praying one morning. The Spirit said that they can come to see me and everything will be paid for. So I wrote Shanie and told her what God had said. I went and put the letter in the mail. When I got to the dorm, the guard told me I had a visitor. As I walked into the visitation room, there was my wife and kids! My wife said my mother had let her use her car and paid for the gas so the trip was all paid for! We praised God and cried and laughed and loved. It was one of the sweetest moments of my life.

My Ministry in Prison

God had great plans for me while in prison. First, He led me to the Faith-based dorm which was 58 men out of 2500 in the prison. We were the church. The Faith-based dorm was a program dorm where we took faith-based classes throughout the week and were in charge of church services on the weekend.

Next, God put me in the job as the Chaplain’s assistant on the unit. So, I officially worked for the prison ministry with no ministry training knowledge and credentials. God blessed me to be able to minister and pray with many men who lost love ones. He also allowed me to start a church band, choir, and lead the church set up crew. I also became the leader of the faith-based dorm. God allowed me to set up the church schedule with every church and pastor that volunteered. I set up every faith-based class with the volunteers that the prison had. God showed me how to run a ministry.

Then, Covid hit, and with no church or volunteer allowed in the unit, the faith-based dorm and church were going to have to shut down. Once again, God opened doors for me that never should have happened for an inmate. The Chaplain allowed me to start teaching classes so the faith-based dorm could stay alive. I even created a class of my own. Then, God allowed me to open church back up and let me preach for the unit! I thank God for all He did through me and for me without minister knowledge or credentials. Many men received salvation during this time.

My Life Purpose

My Lord, the God of the universe, also gave me a grand vision, a purpose for the rest of my life. This vision is “Called Out Ministries.” We want to call out the church of all denominations to come together as one body to be the hands and feet of Christ. Just imagine what the church could do if we all came together like the church in Acts.

Knowledge and Credentials with CLI and CLA

Since my release from prison, I have reunited with my wife and kids, started a small group at church, and become a volunteer for “The Voice Of The Martyrs.” Further, I am a part of a ministry called “The Most Excellent Way.”  It is a ministry for addicts. I am also a student of the Christian Leaders Institute (CLI), a member of the Christian Leaders Alliance, and interested in Christian Leaders College. They give me the knowledge and credentials I need for my ministry call.

My desire is to get as close to Christ and learn as much as I can. I want to get ordained and finish college to continue on this adventure God has sent me on. I thank God for all He is doing and all He will do! Some months have passed since starting with the Christian Leaders Institute and Alliance. I have received my 10 credits and qualifications to receive a Deacon ordination. I thank God for Christian Leaders Ministry for supplying me with the knowledge and credentials to start in ministry.

Henry Reyenga
Author: Henry Reyenga

Henry Reyenga is president of Christian Leaders Institute and Christian Leaders Alliance.