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Reformed prisoner takes spiritual path

Found God: Raymond Symonds transformed his life

A speaker at an anti-violence event to be held today said he ignored a friend’s calls for spiritual intervention before his arrest more than ten years ago.

Raymond Symonds explained: “Someone did reach out to me, but I didn’t want to hear it.”

Mr Symonds said that a friend of his had approached him to encourage him to accompany him to church.

He added: “There was nothing about it that I wanted to hear. I just didn’t want to hear anything about God. I didn’t even knowing anything really about God at the time. I outright told him no.

“I don’t know if I was afraid, but I just didn’t want to give in.”

Mr Symonds was arrested at LF Wade International Airport in 2007.

He was later convicted of smuggling $500,000 worth of liquid cocaine into the country and sentenced to ten years in prison.

Mr Symonds said his lifestyle before going to prison was not violent but destructive.

He explained: “I was a severe alcoholic, I was a very dishonest person and just living a wild life. I was a womaniser, I was deceitful and caught up.”

Mr Symonds gave his life to God during the 3½ years he served in Westgate Correctional Facility.

He and another former prisoner, Andre Minors, will share their stories at the event.

“Redeemed: From Jail to Jesus” is the latest in a series of talks aimed at stopping violence and antisocial behaviour in Bermuda.

Desmond Crockwell, chief editor of anti-violence magazine Visionz, and Kirk Trott, councilman at Glory Temple New Testament Church, organised the night.

The latest event will examine the role spiritual intervention can play in helping to stem violence.

Mr Symonds said getting through to those already on or heading down a violent path who didn’t want to hear about God was a challenge.

He explained: “At the time I turned it down.”

He added that the friend who reached out to him “continued to show me love”.

Mr Symonds explained: “Although I did not take heed and want to go to church, I still hung around him. He still talked to him. He still did minister to me in his own way.”

He added: “He would just tell me ‘God loves you’ — just little stuff like that, just little seeds like that.”

Mr Symonds said that family and friends had an important role to play in helping to stop the violence.

He added family support, including having fathers involved in children’s lives, was important.

Mr Symonds said: “It does help, if the daddy is being a productive father.”

He added: “When we are close to people, sometimes when we know they are on the wrong path, because they are our friends, sometimes we don’t tell them the truth.

“This is reality, especially for the young.”

Mr Symonds said: “If these are truly our friends or our family members, or brothers and sisters, and we truly love them, when they’re doing wrong and we know that it’s going to lead to death, murder or jail time, we need to be man or woman enough to tell them that’s not the right path.”

He added he volunteered for the event to stop others taking the same path he did and to let those already on it that it is never too late to change.

He added: “This isn’t the end if you are willing to turn your life around.”

Redeemed: From Jail to Jesus will be held at Glory Temple New Testament Church on Wescott Road at 6.30pm. For more information, contact 337-7786 or 595-8261