Four Prodigal Sons That Found Their Way Back Home

The Brotherhood Journal_Prodigal Sons

Pastor Bohanna and four prodigal sons; (left to right) Corey Bohanna, James Monroe, Pastor Jeffrey Bohanna, Roland Colom, Jr., Brandon Spight

Parents may sometimes wonder, “Is it still possible that even today prodigal sons can find their way back home?”

Well, parents, family and friends who attend Terry Street Church of Christ in Ripley, Mississippi, can answer that question with an emphatic, yes. If you were to visit the church to try to decipher which one is the prodigal son, you will have a difficult time.

You see, as you scan the congregation you will have a difficult time picking out the prodigal son from others who perhaps never went down the riotous living pathway.

Is he the fellow who greeted you at the door? Is he one of the song leaders? Is he one of the men sitting in the pulpit? Or is he just sitting somewhere in the midst of the congregation? Appearance definitely won’t give him away.

In the same vain of trying to judge a book by it’s cover, when you meet them, a first impression assessment could never decipher the depths of their character. For example, can you determine which one is married and is a truck driver and lives in a two story house? Which one is the swimmer and plays the trumpet for a hobby? Which one is the computer whiz and has just opened a new business in town? Or which one is a full time student majoring in heat and air conditioning and is on pace to become a civil engineer?

The above narrative, by the way, is just a sampling of the human resources that our nation is locking away daily in disgusting numbers. Roland Colom Jr., James Monroe, Brandon Spight, and Corey Bohanna have several things in common.

Among the things they have in common is: they are all ex-offenders. They all desire now for the young people coming up today to not go down the same pathway they took. Each of them are faithful members of Terry Street Church of Christ under the leadership of Pastor Jeffery Bohanna.

Prison Prevention Program
Terry Street Church of Christ is unique in a number of ways. One thing that it is unique for is a ministry to help prevent future prodigal sons. Each of the ex-offenders now has a passion to help steer youngsters away from the lifestyle path that they took.

Each of them considers it a blessing that they turned around before it was too late. “The thing that is so scary about life today is there is no guarantee that you will live long enough to have the chance to get back,” says Brandon Spight.

The effort to prevent future prodigal sons is structured into a ministry called Prison Prevention Program. Pastor Bohanna has taken what started out as “Friday Night Lights” and revised it to become a prison prevention program. “Friday Night Lights” was held the last Friday of the month, and the purpose was to shed light on the problems faced by today’s youth.

We became aware of youngsters who thought they were tough and not afraid of prison; we saw a need for a program. We got around to all the schools in this area, police department, mayor, jail. We had principals, policemen, current prisons, constable, etc. to come in to speak. We had four men on a panel and they told their story. We allowed the youth to ask questions.

The whole point of this program is to simple divert our youngsters from going down the road these guys went down. Brandon said, “There is no guarantee that you will live to make it back.”

The Journey
It is amazing how much the individual journeys have in common with the account of the prodigal son in Jesus parable in the book of Luke in the Bible. It seems all four had nothing bad to say about home. In fact, as one of them recalls when he finally took time to think about the lifestyle path that he had gone down, the lifestyle was out of character for him. “I wasn’t raised that way”, Brandon Spight says.

Leaving home for a far country
It seems that the modern day journey into the far country occurs from the temptation to get involved in a world of distributing controlled substances. It also seems that the beginning is small and inconsequential; however, before the participant takes time to think he is now “caught up” in the lifestyle.

The Brotherhood Journal_Prodigal Sons

Pastor Bohanna and four prodigal sons; (left to right) Corey Bohonna, James Monroe, Pastor Jeffery Bohanna, Roland Colom Jr., Brandon Spight

Riotous living
The illustration of “riotous living” was probably best described by Brandon Spight. It seems that all ability to think rationally leaves the person. “I am 31 years old, a husband and father of five. In 1999, I was convicted of armed robbery. I also had a sell charge.

The factors leading up to it will be the same thing that brings you back out of it. It’s all about a mindset. A person has to be very cautious about his lifestyle because this is what happens to you.
You get so caught up in the things you are doing, and when you are in the midst of what you are doing you don’t think about it. You don’t pay any attention to it.

Over time you pick up a bad habit here and a bad habit there and the next thing you know you have a combination of bad habits; your life ends up a disaster. You hear people talking about people smoking the drugs or taking drugs and getting hooked on the drugs … but the lifestyle is just as addictive as the drugs.

I got so caught up in glamour, the popularity, the perceived power of it, and how fast that money comes and what it can do for you. I become addicted to the lifestyle. You have a hard time admitting that but you are.

Otherwise, if you are a sane person and you recognize that what you are doing is wrong, why can’t you stop. I was addicted to the lifestyle. I just had a messed up thought process. So my first three and half years into my sentence, I still had the same thought process. I just didn’t see anything that was wrong with what I was doing”, Spight says.

Come to himself
Just like the prodigal son “come to himself”, the pattern seems to hold today. To a man, the time finally came when they “came to themselves.” Remarkably as it may seem, the thing that brought them back home was when they took time to think.

Roland Colom, Jr.: I never really gave up church. I came to a point where I realized how much I valued my freedom. I won’t take anything for my freedom.

James Munroe: “I give God the credit. I went to church when I was in prison. I got along with the guards. I got along with the prisoners. I made a promise to myself and that was: ‘I am never going to sell any more dope. I can’t tell what might happen in life, but one thing I do know, I ain’t going to sell any more dope.’ As my wife would come to see me, I just made up in my mind that I wanted to do better. It really wasn’t that I was scared in prison, but I just got the desire to do better,” says James Munroe.

Brandon Spight: After about 4 years into my sentence I began to take stock of myself. I thought about the good I had done. I thought about the bad I had done. I finally came to the realization that the decision you make affect more than yourself. I realized all the people I had put through this trouble. There were no sickness or any thing that caused me to think. I literally took the time to sit and think and I told myself. You have screwed up! My thinking was wrong! My actions were wrong! And it was nobody’s fault but mine. Then I had to ask myself: Well, what are you going to do about it? My decision was I am just going to have to fix it. Go back to doing what I know is right. Like in the book of Proverbs, if you train up a child in the way he should go when he get old “he may stray away” but he will not depart from that training. I got to thinking about all of that and that if were to die I would go to hell. Then I had to admit to myself, “Well, I know I was raised better.” So, I actually took the time to stop and think about what I was doing and what I should be doing. That was the turning point for me. There was no life incident. There was no sickness in the family. It was just a realization. It’s a conscious effort and it’s a hard thing to do because the hardest person to be honest with and about is yourself.

The Brotherhood Journal_Bohannas

Corey Bohanna and his wife Marquita

Corey Bohanna: “I was convicted of armed robbery, got sent to prison and got out of prison with the same mindset that I had when I went to prison. It took the tragedy of a close friend getting killed for me to take time to think. I actually took the time to evaluate what type of lifestyle I was going to have for this future. Was I going to be a free man and positive man or was I going to go back to prison. I had good examples all around me. In the midst of my evaluation and considering what my future would be… I found GOD”, Cory Bohanna says.

The return home
Like the father in the parable their church family has welcomed them back home.

Filed Under: Featured


About the Author: Mr. Charles E. Harris is the Editor and Publisher of The Brotherhood Journal. He is the President of Restoration Ministries. Harris is married and has two children.

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