CONWAY, Ark. – Forgiveness is a powerful tool and one local church is showing just how powerful it can be – helping to change one man’s life.
Brenton Winn, 23, first made headlines after breaking into the Central Baptist Church in Conway.
At the time he was homeless and suffered from a severe drug addiction.
“Things just went from bad to worse,” says Brenton Winn.
Back in February, Winn broke into the church while high and as he says, “upset with God.”
Mike Lefler, the associate pastor at the church says there was close to $100,000 in damages.
“There was quite a bit of physical damage,” says Lefler.
Surveillance footage from that night shows Winn smashing the glass and using a fire extinguisher to cause damage.
“I don’t think I picked this church. I think God picked me because I was not strong enough to pick myself up form my addictions,” explains Winn.
Winn has no recollection of that night but says he still feels very sorry.
“It’s never too late to change,” he says. “I thought that I had gone too far for God to even love me.”
Fast forward 8 months and Winn is now a different man.
Aside from his physical appearance, going from 170lbs to now weighing 210lbs, he says he has found forgiveness and hope.
“Renewal Ranch saved my life,” he says. “I would have been either dead or in jail.”
Renewal Ranch provides men with food, clothing, and shelter while simultaneously providing them with a Christian environment that will allow them to overcome their addictions, according to their website.
“This is a story more than anything of grace and redemption and a story of new life,” says Chase Moser, a supervisor at Renewal Ranch, who works closely with Winn.
The 12-month program is a faith-based rehabilitation facility located outside Conway. Winn says they are showing him that he is worthy of forgiveness.
“It starts with forgiving yourself and then you can go and write other wrongs,” Winn explains.
This past September, Central Baptist Church baptized Winn in front of the entire congregation, showing that it’s never too late to be forgiven.
“Today I can look back and say that I am thankful because I am completely restored,” Winn says.
While second chances don’t normally come easy for those suffering from drug addictions, the church says forgiveness does.
“I would say that wholeheartedly everybody is worthy of forgiveness,” explains Pastor Lefler. “Anybody can do things that are wrong and we all do wrong things – the Bible is very clear on that but they just need to know that there is hope.”
Winn has already served four months in jail and his felony charges are still standing. The judge has ordered that Winn returns to court after completing the Renewal Ranch rehabilitation program in March of next year.