Former prisoner testimony: From a devil tattoo and drugs to redeemed in the cross

By March 28, 2023

USA (MNN) — Robert Woldhuis is the donor relations manager at Crossroads Prison Ministries. However, before following Jesus, he lived a very different life.

Woldhuis grew up in a Christian home, but ran from God after high school. He says, “I went as far as getting a tattoo of a devil on my chest. But that’s how little I wanted to do with anything Christianity. I wasn’t worshipping the devil, I just didn’t want anything to do with Christians. It was that one decision that just directed so many of my steps from that point. Drug addiction started, I got divorced, [and] there was just a lot of the enemy working on me.”

Drug addiction finally caught up with Woldhuis, and he fell in and out of prison for the next five years.

Woldhuis says, “When I went to jail for the first time, my mom signed me up for this little Bible study because she wanted to keep me in the Word.”

Robert Woldhuis, Donor Relations Manager at Crossroads. (Photo courtesy of Crossroads Prison Ministries)

It was a Bible study course with Crossroads. Prisoners correspond with Christian mentors via the mail-in Bible studies and letters. At first, Woldhuis says he was hesitant, but he filled out the Bible study anyway and mailed it back to Crossroads.

“I remember about a month later, I got this letter back,” Woldhuis says. “It was this mentor who reviewed my lesson who was just pouring love and encouragement and hope into my situation. They didn’t know me and that little piece of kindness just stuck with me through the years.”

Near the end of his last jail term, Woldhuis was committed to sobriety. However, three days before his release, his two oldest sons were killed in a car crash. The grief was overwhelming.

He says, “Nobody ever knows what kind of reaction you’re going to do when you’re faced with a traumatic life decision or when you get sucked into something and you just don’t know how to get out.”

Unfortunately, Woldhuis landed back in prison in 2010. However, his mother didn’t give up on him, and neither did God.

“Every time I got in trouble, my mom continually signed me up for the Crossroads program and made sure that I was in the Word.”

He also began thinking about how to honor the lives of his sons who died, and he knew he couldn’t do that by destroying his own life.

(Image courtesy of Crossroads Prison Ministries)

In prison, the Lord was pursuing his heart with comfort and grace through multiple believers acting as the hands and feet of Jesus. Woldhuis reflects, “As I progressed in those [Crossroads Bible] studies, I continually felt the love and encouragement and that hope from the mentors that served our ministry and really just took time out of their day to speak some encouragement into me.”

Eventually, Woldhuis gave his life to Jesus Christ in prison! He was baptized on February 8, 2011.

After he was released from prison in 2015, another Christian man knew how much Woldhuis hated the devil tattoo he got nearly a lifetime ago. This man paid for Woldhuis to cover it with a new tattoo design.

Robert Woldhuis’s new tattoo of a cross. (Photo courtesy of Robert Woldhuis)

Woldhuis chose the new tattoo image of a cross with the Roman numerals for the day of his baptism — a symbol of Christ’s ultimate victory in his life.

Another church member gave Woldhuis a janitorial job at a car dealership, and he also began running as an outlet. Eventually, he connected with another Crossroads staff member through the running community. One thing led to another, and he says, “That was God’s hand all over that, her reaching out to me and just saying, ‘Hey, we would love to talk to you a little bit more,’ and that conversation ended up snowballing into what is now my position today.”

As the donor relations manager at Crossroads, Woldhuis says, “I like to joke with people that I’m the Chief Thank-You Officer. Part of my job is reaching out to mentors and donors, people that supported me while I was in jail and in prison, and letting them know how much that support meant. It is such a pleasure to pick up the phone and talk to somebody that has been serving our ministry for 20 years and let them know what kind of an impact that made on my life.”

Every day, mentors with Crossroads have an impact on men and women in prison like Woldhuis desperately searching for comfort, encouragement, and hope in a Savior. But they need more mentors!

“These are Christian men and women who are requesting to do a Bible study behind bars. Would we hold back resources from people that are outside of prison that are requesting to do a Bible study? That really hit home for me.”

Click here to learn more about Bible study mentorship with Crossroads.

(Image courtesy of Crossroads Prison Ministries)

Woldhuis says, “These are people that are hungry to learn. They’re not getting time off of their sentences for doing these Bible studies. There’s no extra little gold star on their paperwork or anything like that. This is literally how they’re choosing to use their time.”








Image courtesy of Crossroads Prison Ministries.

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