None of us were created to live a life defined by failures and mistakes—a reality that Jermaine Wilson knows firsthand. During the years when teens should be having the time of their lives, Jermaine was sitting behind bars. Carrying the destructive cycle he felt there was no escape from, Jermaine quickly found himself put back into prison after only a short experience of freedom. But it was spending his most formative years behind bars that gave him the time and perspective needed to build a relationship with God: a relationship that would completely transform his life and take him to the most unexpected places—all the way to city hall.

Guest Bio:

Jermaine Wilson is the mission ambassador for Prison Fellowship and former two-time mayor of Leavenworth, Kansas. As a servant leader, his passion for helping others stems from his humble beginnings and troubled childhood. Jermaine spent seven years behind bars—four of them as a juvenile.

While incarcerated as an adult, Jermaine participated in biblically based programs through Prison Fellowship and experienced the life-transforming power of God’s Word. With renewed purpose and vision, he no longer saw himself as a failure and a mistake. After his release from prison, Jermaine created a nonprofit organization, Unity in the Community, to establish trust between citizens and law enforcement. When his criminal record was expunged, he increased his political and civic involvement. In 2017 he was elected city commissioner for Leavenworth, Kansas, and became mayor in 2019. In 2020 he became the first formerly incarcerated person to serve on the Kansas Sentencing Committee.

Jermaine is an ordained minister, husband, and father of five children.

Notes & Quotes:

  • “I’ve learned that I had to be broken down and stripped away from everything I had in order for God to get my attention. I tell people that I lost my freedom but discovered my purpose.”
  • “God didn’t create me to fail. God [has] a plan and a purpose for my life. But it took me going to prison, losing time to find a better time and to have quality time with him.”
  • “We spend so much time preparing returning citizens for society but not enough time preparing society for returning citizens.”
  • “God will use and choose whoever he wants to use … and he’ll take the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, and the process prepares us for our purpose in life.”

Links Mentioned:

  • Transcript
  • Learn more about Jermaine’s work with Prison Fellowship.
  • If you’re interested in getting more information about Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program, check out the program’s homepage.
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Verses Mentioned:

  • Malachi 2:14
  • Story of Joseph: Genesis 37–50