It was a life-changing moment for former bank robber, Jon Ponder when he recently received a presidential pardon from President Donald Trump. He said on Wednesday afternoon that it “was 100% Jesus” who turned his life around while he was behind bars.
Ponder grew up in New York and joined the gangs, he was led to drugs and alcohol and was arrested for the first time at the age of 12. He then spent the next 25 years in and out of prison and landed himself in a federal prison after a drug and alcohol-induced bank robbery for which he faced upto 23 years in federal prison, but was only sentenced to five.
“I want to thank God for turning my life around,” Ponder said, “It was 100% Jesus that turned my life in a 180-degree turn in another direction and I cannot stop thanking Him enough.” He said this in an interview the afternoon after he was fully pardoned by the president, who called Ponder’s life journey “a beautiful testament to the power of redemption.”
— The Daily Briefing (@dailybriefing) August 26, 2020
Gave his life to Christ in prison
“While Jon was in prison, he began reading the Bible and listening to Christian radio,” the president said Tuesday. “One day, he heard the Rev. Billy Graham on the radio proclaim Jesus wants to be Lord of your life. On that day, Jon dedicated his life to Christ. He spent the rest of his time in prison studying the Bible.”
After leaving prison, Ponder started a friendship with retired FBI Special Agent Richard Beasley, who arrested Ponder. The agent told Ponder he had been praying for him. Ponder founded Hope for Prisoners, Inc., a nonprofit that assists those leaving incarceration and transitioning back into the workforce in the time when he was freed from prison.
“I can’t even find the words to describe how grateful I was in that moment when the president had given me a pardon,” Ponder said. “I had no idea that it was gonna happen, so it was just an incredible, incredible surprise.”
In November 2020 Ponder will cast his vote for the first time in a presidential election — a privilege he says “means the world” to him.
“I am just so grateful to be able to participate in one of the greatest privileges that we have as Americans, to participate in that electoral process,” he said. “So it’s something I’m looking very, very forward to, something I’ve waited a long time for.”
President Trump pardoned Jon Ponder, a convicted felon who has since started a program to help former prisoners re-enter society.
— ABC News (@ABC) August 26, 2020
Hope for Prisoners
It is an 18-month program that was started in 2009, which is about job training, mentorship and counseling and has reportedly supported over 3,100 men and women re-entering society post-prison.
“He has created one of the most successful reentry programs, Hope For Prisoners, in Las Vegas,” Trump said in a video taped at the White House. “Hope for prisoners is a movement that began as a dream, in a tiny prison cell, and is now making a difference in the lives of thousands, truly bringing hope that there is an opportunity and a community that is waiting and willing to offer them a second chance.”