Today, Scott Gammon is the guy who drives to the bus station in Jacksonville to pick up ex- convicts for Prisoners of Christ.
Four years ago, he was the guy getting picked up.
“They used to call me ‘Scott Gammon G09580 by order of the Department of Corrections,’ ” he says. “That ‘G’ stands for eight separate incarcerations over a span of 28 years of my life.”
That life had been marked by a $1,000-a-day cocaine habit, and the theft and fraud needed to support it. But Gammon’s life started to turn around in Madison County Jail on Aug. 31, 2008, when he reluctantly accepted an offer to attend a Bible study. Before it was over, he’d accepted Christ too.
But he’s quick to say that his life wouldn’t have finished turning around without Prisoners of Christ—mentoring him, taking him through a 12-step program, “teaching me how to live a lifestyle out here in the Lord.
“Man, I just don’t know where I’d be today without this ministry,” Gammon says. “If I would’ve gone back home down South, I’d probably have been incarcerated for the rest of my life, or even worse, dead. I had to have that structured environment. I couldn’t have got it down where I lived because I know too many people there.”
Gammon isn’t the only man who’s gone from being helped by Prisoners of Christ to working for them.
Greg Seymour spent 35 years in prison—27 years the first time, eight more for a parole violation. As a young man, he ran with gangs in Miami, robbing drug dealers because that’s where the money was. Eventually, he killed one of those dealers and was convicted of first- degree murder. But “what (ultimately) brought me to prison was rebellion against parental authority,” Seymour says. “That’s where it all started. I left home at 16, determined to do things my own way. Prison was actually a blessing for me. It’s where I met Christ and I learned a better way.”
Released in 2013 at age 55, Seymour remembers everything about his release. How long he was on a bus from Miami to Jacksonville. (Eight hours.) What he wore. (Shorts, a T-shirt and “a pair of Nikes that were too tight on my feet.”) Where Gammon took him to eat. (Captain D’s. “I hadn’t had seafood in such a long time, it was like going to a five-star restaurant.”)
But what he remembers best is the reception he got at Jericho House, one of Prisoners of Christ’s homes. “The men who were already there, they welcomed me with open arms,” he says. “It was unconditional love.”
Seymour blossomed in that environment, emotionally and spiritually. He became a resident leader. He started volunteering at the office. And a few months later, once Seymour had gotten acclimated, Steve McCoy asked him to be the group’s re-entry director—helping other young men as he’d been helped.
It’s a job Seymour still does today. And when he works with the men—especially the younger men—he sees a lot of himself in them.
“I’ve been working with one lately who’s been doing great,” Seymour says. “When you look at his record, he was a thug. But Jesus loves sinners; He loves thugs. I led that life. If it wasn’t for Christ, I’d probably have been dead a long time ago. He gave me a second chance.”
Originally published in the May 2016 issue of Citizen magazine.