I look at what God did for me. He's brought me from a cast away, to someone that's worth something. He's brought me from destruction to life.
Joseph Blevens grew up in the Dallas area, graduating from Roosevelt High School before spending a short time in school, eventually joining the Army in November of 1973. Promoted as high as Chief Warrant Officer 2, he loved his work in the Army, before a mistake led to a fall.
A positive drug test would result in discharge from the Army, something that sent Joseph into a spiral.
“Making matters worse,” he says, Joseph closed himself off from others, pursuing his addiction to crack cocaine. Prior to his discharge, Joseph would go AWOL for a year, resulting in a court-martial for desertion.
Joseph was tracked down in California and arrested. He was sent to court-martial and sentenced to one year of confinement at the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas.
“Being locked up, you're away from drugs,” Joseph said in retrospect. “So I didn't know what addiction was, I heard about it, but I figured nothing could beat me. I didn't know I was addicted, I didn't know this craving was in me, because this craving wasn't there when I was locked up.”
Released and away from the safety of confinement, however, addiction took hold of Joseph's life, and he abused cocaine for nearly 13 years following his time in Leavenworth.
But this isn't a story of defeat, it's a story of Christ's rescuing love.
“The battle had been going on since September of '85, until March of 2008, when I finally surrendered. I realized it would take a stronger force than me to defeat this demon that was in me. This didn't mean I was weak, it didn't mean that I was less than anyone else, because the Word of God says that we've all sinned. So knowing this, I finally surrendered, and a peace came over me.”
Along with the surrender of his own efforts, Joseph also faced another incarceration. He went to prison in 2008, remaining clean throughout his time, until his release on June 13, 2014.
“When I first got out, I was just roaming around,” Joseph said. “I had plans when I left the penitentiary, getting my life back together, and reestablishing a relationship with my children and grandchildren.”
Joseph was then introduced to H.I.S. BridgeBuilders, walking through the doors in August of 2014. “I was really gung ho about (being here),” Joseph recalls. “Because I knew it was beneficial for me to go through this.”
“BridgeBuilders was instrumental in me getting my life back together. I have direction, sometimes I get sidetracked, but I'm focused on what I have to accomplish, and BridgeBuilders has been instrumental in that.”
After completing the job training program at BridgeBuilders, Joseph was connected with Community Staffing Services and Joni Whitehead, a partner of BridgeBuilders.
Joseph was placed in a temporary position at a large retailer in September of last year. After a short time in the temporary position and at the recommendation of his superiors, Joseph applied and was hired for a full-time job.
I was on Death Row. Even though society had never sentenced me to death, my Creator had sentenced me to death. Had I not called out to Him, I'd be on Death Row right now.
“If a believer looked at this, they'd know that the providence of God is in this. I'm just an average person. There's nothing special about me. Why would they do all this?”
“All through the Bible we read about how God gave favor to His people. He gave favor to David, He gave favor to Esther, Ruth, all these people He gave favor to. And, here it is, God chose me, to give me favor.”
“I have my benefits, at the end of December I'll be able to enroll in a 401(k) plan. What I make today, a lot of people would say it's not much, but it's enough for me. God has really blessed me. I thank him every day, because I didn't have to be here.”
In addition to work, Joseph is an active grandfather, a Sunday school teacher, and a member of the choir at his home church. He continually shares the truth of God's redemption, despite the previous choices he's made.
“I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, I'm ashamed of the things I did, but I'm not ashamed of the things I've been through in my life, because this is the testimony God has allowed me to have.”
“BridgeBuilders has helped me to get back on the narrow road, instead of the broad road of destruction. I'm truly thankful. It's been beneficial for me to learn who God really is. He's taught me how to be a father, he's taught me how to be a son, and He's taught me how to be a man.”