Jenkins is a devout follower of Christ known to people for his big heart. Notably, through his affiliation with Christ’s Hope And Reconciliation Ministry of Houston, Texas, Jenkins shepherded men from difficult circumstances to the word of God with regular Bible study and worship. In a video on CHARM’s website, Jenkins tells the story of how he was redeemed through Christ.
I was released from Texas prison in July 2018. I chose to go to a discipleship ministry in west Houston called CHARM. (Christ’s Hope And Reconciliation Ministry). CHARM visits 25 prisons in the greater Houston area and uses sports and music events to bring the Gospel to inmates. CHARM also runs 8 residential discipleship homes housing 50 to 75 men who have had an encounter with Christ. We attend Houston’s First Baptist Church and have 3 Bible studies each week. CHARM asked me for a one year commitment. I was happy to accept.
In July 2019 I finished my year at CHARM and headed to the Permian Basin in west Texas to get a job in the oil and gas industry. I needed to save my house in Ft Worth Texas. While I was in prison the property taxes had not been paid. After 2 months on the job I was able to secure a loan to save my home and purchase two vehicles. Things were looking up.
Then, in March 2020 everything changed. The oil price war and Covid caused oil to lose half its value. Overnight I had gone from making more than I ever had to being unemployed. Not to mention on the hook for a mortgage and two auto loans. I returned home to Ft Worth dumbfounded. I started doing odd jobs and demo/remodeling to make ends meet.
I started dating at this time. I met a wonderful young lady and all of her friends. Two of her friends stood out to me, Bayley Dexter Wanser and River Dean Olson. These young men in their early 20s were funny, vibrant, and full of life. As I came to know them I learned they had been to prison. Prison was something I could relate to. I had struggled through drug abuse and problems ever since I found out I was adopted at the age of 14. Like these young men earlier in my life, I didn’t know who I was and I fell into a life of crime. Much like me at that age, these men were lost and didn’t know their purpose. This lifestyle would take both of their lives in the summer of 2020. Bayley drowned in a police chase and River was given a poisoned batch of drugs.
I was just like these young men before I was saved. Their demise could have very easily been mine many times over. These were good men, but they were making dangerous choices and it caught up with them. I’m so thankful for the time God allowed me to have with them. Losing them was devastating. Crying with their parents, praying with them, speaking at Bayley’s funeral, visiting River in the ICU, and being there when they took him off life support took a toll on me.
I felt guilty for living. I wondered, “Why them and not me?” I questioned what I did during the time we shared. I also began to realize more clearly what I had put my mother through. Sleepless nights, posting my bail, wondering if I would make it home safe. My poor mom. God allowed me to be there with these families and witness these things and I was reminded in the Word it says, “LORD your God is an all consuming fire.” Deut 4:24. I wasn’t in the fire, but I was certainly close to it, and I had watched these two boys be consumed by it.
Matthew 8:24, “And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but He was asleep.”
I felt like I was in my little boat with monster waves crashing against it. Whether those waves were grief, depression, or loneliness I did not know. But what I came to realize was that Jesus was there in the storm with me, in the boat, and I like to imagine he was just resting.
Around September my friend Brian Townson reached out. Brian was my best friend. We had spent my last 18 months in prison together. He also went to CHARM and graduated. He called and asked me if I would be the best man at his wedding November 1st in Houston. I wasn’t sure I could do it considering my emotional state. I kept seeing the storm and the waves and I felt for sure the next wave would sink my vessel. I almost declined the request. At the last minute I recognized my friend needed me, and his special day was far more important than the dark days I had weathered.
I will never forget the day I left Ft Worth and headed for the wedding in Houston. It was cold, dark, and rainy. I had packed and all I had to do was get in the car and leave. I felt in my heart and spirit an urgency, and I don’t know if it was God or instinct, but it was telling me, “This is your chance. You may not get another one.” I knew then I had to leave. I loaded all I could fit into that car. I called my mentor, friend, and brother in Christ, David Trickett (founder of CHARM). I told him I wasn’t looking to just stay in Houston for the wedding, but I wanted to come back home to CHARM. I owned a house in Ft Worth but I had a home at CHARM. He asked me if I was serious. I said I was. He told me to come on.
Halfway to Houston the clouds parted, the sun came out, and the temperature rose. It turned into a beautiful day. It was as if God had opened His arms and beckoned me home like the prodigal son. His love, as it often does, overwhelms me. I cried like a baby.
The wedding rehearsal and Christian bachelor party were absolutely amazing. It was good to be back with my friends again. I got to see everyone from church and everyone from CHARM as well. What a homecoming! It was an honor to be called on to be the best man.
November 1st, the day of the wedding was upon us. I had a speech that I had the privilege of delivering. Fortunately, I had experience in Toastmasters, a club that teaches the art of speaking, listening, and thinking. Brian (the groom) and I actually met at a Toastmasters club meeting in prison. I was the club president. I saw something special in Brian and challenged him to hone his raw talent. He ended up being the next club president and one of the best public speakers I’ve ever seen.
While we were in prison it may have seemed like our lives were over, that we had failed, or that it was hopeless. The storm that was prison was the tool God used to prune our lives. The waves and the wind blew down all things not built on the Rock, the solid foundation that is Jesus Christ. Brian and I learned that what the Devil meant to use to kill or destroy us, God, in His wisdom, would use for His glory and His plan. It seemed all was lost. Surely we would drown. Then we realized who we had in the boat with us, who the Captain of our lives was. We just had to wake Him up. Jesus had us the whole time and navigated us to safety. That storm cultivated the soil of Brian’s heart and made him the man I got to see before me. That storm planted the seed that took hold in prison, and had now grown into the tree that is the Townson family. What an honor to see Gods handiwork!
As you can imagine, my speech at the wedding reception recounted our story in the storm, in prison, and the storm I was in at the time. I acknowledged God and I thanked Him for these storms. The wedding was the most beautiful I have ever seen. Smiles, laughter, and tears of joy all around.
I got a job that night at the wedding. I started work the very next week. Late one night a little later I began receiving calls from my former roommates, now my tenants in my house in Ft Worth. They had begun bickering over bills, I got frustrated and told them not to pay the bills because I planned to sell the house. The VERY NEXT day I received a text message from someone who was wondering if I was interested in selling my house. I couldn’t believe it. It was a serious offer. We put it under contract and closed on it in less than 3 weeks! God shut that door quick for me and got that mortgage off my back.
After hearing me speak at the wedding my mentor and the man who presided over the ceremony, David Trickett of CHARM, bought me a hat from Froning Farms that said, INTO THE STORM. Rich Froning is an 8 time Cross Fit champion. He says, “Ever wonder where we got the phrase, ‘Into The Storm’? When bison see a storm they go into it, so they are in the storm a shorter amount of time. There’s always going to be trials in this life, and we always do our best to meet them head on.”
So many times in my old life I quit when things got tough. When the storm would come I would run or cower in fear. With God I had learned to stand firm and this gift from David was a reminder that He is with me. My new sales job turned out to be excellent for me. I was walking in my gift. My gift is connecting with people. I made very good money, but I ended up walking away over a disagreement with the owner of the company and I was OK with that. This freed up my schedule.
That was when I heard about the Stop The Steal rally in Washington, DC on January 6. I had watched election night and it was clear to me that something happened that was not right. This was the first election I’d ever participated in due to me being incarcerated, on parole, or not interested.
This time I had skin in the game. After I became a follower of Christ I realized I lined up with conservative values. Then I witnessed how Donald Trump had to fight the media and the establishment. I saw how Democrats and Republicans had been selling the American people down a river. There was no doubt in my heart and mind that there was massive election fraud. I had never been to DC and never attended a political rally, much less a Trump rally. I was all in and booked my trip.
I had no idea what to expect so I joined Texans For Trump to see what was going on in DC. They were warning that there was Antifa and BLM counter protesters expected to do harm to Trump supporters. They said, “This is a revival, not a revolution.” They also said it was advisable to stay in groups and to protect ourselves.
What I saw in DC blew my mind the morning of January 6. I saw seas of people. I had attended a concert in Texas with 1/2 million people before, but the number in DC on January 6 by far surpassed that. That day was a joyous one. A day of song and dance, prayer, and fiery speeches. It was all I had imagined it would be and more.
The day began at 5:30am and the speeches ended around 1:30pm. I was hungry and needed sustenance so I headed to the hotel. I was at Starbucks when I got word the Capitol had been stormed. I immediately headed to the Capitol grounds. I made my way to the west terrace and what I saw broke my heart. I witnessed women and elderly being beaten and brutally savaged. I saw people bleeding and I saw a woman being beaten on the ground while she was unconscious or potentially dead. I found out later that woman had died. I personally was beaten, tear gassed, and pepper sprayed. I watched unconscious people be dragged away from the police. I watched them being kicked like refuse. I watched another woman be targeted by a Lt of the MPD and be beaten repeatedly with a baton while she was helpless and non aggressive and prone. These are American citizens. This is the Peoples House. So I decided to face the wind and the rain like the bison and head “Into The Storm”—not to harm but to help those who were helpless.