Motivational speakers visit
Kristi Overton-Johnson, multi-time water-skiing World Champion and World Record Holder, came here and conducted one-hour presentations over this weekend, including a staff-only session. She spoke about having her parents’ endless support to pursue her dream, how success was great and she was rewarded well for it, but she wasn’t fulfilled by it. Wear and tear on her body and injuries led her to retire. In retirement she sought fulfillment – got married, started a family, founded a charitable organization, and was active in Church. The turning point in her search came when got a letter from a close friend who’d been sent to prison. She realized she’d done to him what happens so often – he went to prison and was “out of sight, out of mind”, until she got his letter. She told her husband she felt like she needed to go visit her friend. Her husband encouraged and supported her, so she visited her friend in prison. She said she looked around the prison visiting room and saw all the family members around her, and it spoke to her, she felt like she needed to share a message of love and hope with the prison population. She started in Florida, and over time her outreach grew to include the Federal BOP, so now she travels across the country speaking in jails and prisons, and that is the fulfillment she sought for so long.
Her message was pretty clear – no matter how dark or dire things seem, everyone in the room is loved by God. And she shared her belief that there is always hope, and encouraged everyone to keep striving, never give up. She told us how she adopted “Hit it!”, from her water-skiing days, when she would signal her boat driver that she was ready by yelling “Hit it!”, and that has become her motivational catch-phrase. Her point was that everyone has the power within themselves to change, and to hold onto hope, sometimes it just takes a reminder like “Hit it!” to pick up and keep working for better. Also, that we can all trust God’s love and His plan.
On the presentation schedule, Danny Cox, had a couple of one-hour sessions. He recounted how he’d become a highly successful nightclub owner. (Full disclosure: He created and owned Panama Jax, in my local area, I was a regular patron and was familiar with him from my own exploits there.) He recapped how his rise to success was filled with alcohol, drugs, partying, and sex – a lifestyle I was all too familiar with in the years leading up to my arrest. Eventually, his fast living led to a drug conviction and a Federal prison sentence. While he was in jail awaiting sentencing, he got a letter from an old acquaintance he hadn’t spoken to in a long time, and he felt the spirit of God was reaching out to him. When he was in Federal prison, he wrote a book, “High On a Lie”, about his rise and fall and then finding God. His message was that God is the light, the leader for everyone to follow on the path to a better life. His delivery of his message was plenty lively and attention-grabbing.
He closed with an invitation to join him up front for a Prayer Circle to pray with him. I went up to pray with him. I can’t explain why or how – I haven’t done anything like that before. Anyone who knows me can attest to my keeping my faith and my spirituality pretty close to the vest. Since my arrest, I’m especially guarded about it, and conscientious of the general public scrutiny and skepticism of “jailhouse salvation”. I’m not declaring that my going up for the Prayer Circle was me having a Jesus-driven epiphany and being born again. I was hesitant initially about it, concerned it could be something that was out of line with my Faith. But I felt like I needed and wanted to go up there, and eventually that won out over my hesitancy. When I spoke to my Mom afterwards, she said she was proud of me for going up for the Prayer Circle, and the she knew I would not have done that before, wouldn’t even have considered it. She’s right, I wouldn’t have. I’m glad that I did. She was the encouragement for my going to Mr. Cox’s session in the first place. It turned out to be a great experience. I’m super-grateful for Mrs. Overton-Johnson and Mr. Cox coming here to share their message of love, hope, and fulfillment. If they come back, I’ll be attending.