TUMI Testimony Reunion (April 30, 2022)
Last week, over 100 people from across California gathered for an unprecedented reunion of formerly incarcerated TUMI students who are faithfully serving as leaders in their homes, churches, and communities. It truly was a reunion. Many had not seen each other since they were incarcerated together. There were many hugs, and introductions to new wives and children.
It was a joy to see them in civilian clothes since we met them in prison at their TUMI classes or graduations. One of those graduations was for Robert Hernandez. In 2016 he was scheduled to graduate with Howard in Calipatria but the night before the ceremony he was abruptly transferred to another prison. However, Prison Fellowship later arranged for Robert to have his own ceremony. Now years later, we met Robert’s wife and got a picture with him and Howard, reunited once again.
Another graduation we attended was for Albert. We remembered his testimony, after decades of solitary confinement, he came to Christ, taught himself to read, and then was released to general population and graduated from TUMI. He told me how much he has reflected on the words of encouragement we gave him at his ceremony, and that he counts us among the most influential people in his life.
We visited with Carlos Sanchez and his newlywed wife Arlene, who we had only seen on Zoom since his release. It was wonderful to see them in person as they celebrated their first anniversary.
We re-connected with Harry, who we had not seen in four years. We met his new wife and infant son, Harry III. He told me that my book Jesus Cropped from the Picture was foundational for him and that the Onesimus Workshop was a spot-on description of his re-entry process.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this reunion was that it was entirely run by Jarret Keith’s Testimony Ministries, so it was led by, and made up of, California’s returning citizens. When it was over, TUMI Founder Dr. Davis and I congratulated Jarret for this great event. He looked at us and said, “All I did was follow through on what you told us to do.” In that moment, all we have invested in the last 15 years came to fruition. It’s a dream come true to climb out of the driver’s seat and hand over the keys to these splendid TUMI graduates.