A former drug addict who had vandalized an Arkansas church, has now given his life to Christ and taken baptism at the same church in less than a year.
Brenton Winn had wreaked havoc at a Central Baptist Church in Conway, Arkansas and had tried to break into a church bus parked nearby.
He was adamant on setting the bus on fire but failed and then turned on the church building and spent two hours destroying around $100,000 worth of property.
He was captured on CCTV cameras setting the church’s family life center on fire, smashing computers and throwing a soundboard from the worship center balcony.
Update: This man has been identified.
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Don Chandler, Senior pastor said, “I really don’t know what would possess a person to do this — maybe anger with God, maybe we were just too near to him at a point in time when he decided to break in and do something,” Chandler said.
Law enforcement officers identified Winn and arrested him the next day. But even before he was arrested, the young man had already experienced grace. “He’s already forgiven,” Chandler said before Winn was arrested. “And we’d love for him to come to church here one of these days and hear what we have to say about the Lord.”
Winn says he now believes God led him to that specific church that night. He says, “If it had been any other church, I think I’d be sitting in prison right now,” he said.
After Winn’s arrest, Chandler pleaded for time in rehab for the young man instead of prosecution. “You can’t preach something for 50 years without practicing it, especially in front of your whole church,” Chandler said. “Had we not shown some grace to him, everything we’ve talked about and encouraged, would have gone by the wayside.”
“It was simply the right thing to do. This was not a hardened criminal. This was a young man who had made some mistakes. He was on drugs and alcohol when he did what he did. But he was redeemable.” He added.
When Winn appeared in front of the judge, he had a choice given to him: face up to 20 years behind bars or enroll in a program at Renewal Ranch, a 12-month, faith-based rehab facility located outside of Conway. He ended up going to Renewal Ranch and heard more about God during the program’s bible studies.
During one service Winn attended at Central Baptist Church, the same church he had vandalized, he decided to get baptized. “I gave my heart to Christ that night,” he said.
He added, “I used to think it was a coincidence [that I chose to break into the church that night], but now I call it confirmation that God is real, and He answers prayers. What was weighing on my heart was that I needed a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Winn was baptized at the same Church, six months after he vandalized it by associate pastor Mike Lefler. “As I’m starting to understand how God works, I’ve realized I didn’t pick the church that night,” Winn said. “God picked me.”
What a beautiful story of redemption and forgiveness, Winn experienced a radical change in his life only because the pastor Don Chandler and church members of Central Baptist Church decided to forgive him and give him another chance.