by Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission
Tony Pouesi, imprisoned for nine months after the death of a man in a bar fight, began a closer walk with God following his surprise release from jail in the U.S. state of Alaska.
With nowhere to go, he moved into a Seventh-day Adventist home for former inmates, the Greater Works Christian Living Center, in Anchorage. He began to have morning devotions. He attended prayer meetings on Wednesday and Friday evenings. He kept the Sabbath.
“It was the first time that I got to experience a real Christian family,” he said.
A desire swelled in his heart to share his newfound love for Jesus, and he decided to establish Alaska Street Ministry. Five days a week, he distributes GLOW tracts, Bible promise books, food, and clothing. He prays with strangers and talks about Jesus.
Tony has found that wearing a custom-made hat or shirt stamped with the words, “Trust Jesus,” is an excellent conversation starter.
“It is a great tool for witnessing,” he said. “A lot of people come up to me and just start talking about God. If they are responsive, I tell them how God changed my life.”
Tony’s biggest burden, however, is his own family. He called his single mother in Shelton, Washington, shortly after being freed from jail.
“There is only one thing in this world that I will ask of you,” he told her. “I want you to do these Discover Bible studies.”
As a result of the Voice of Prophecy studies, his mother has quit smoking and lost 30 pounds (14 kilograms). She keeps the Sabbath.
“I knew that she would never be the same after the Bible studies,” Tony said. “This is the power of God.”
Tony is now looking for new ways to share Jesus. One Sabbath as he left church, he encountered a man carrying a large white cross. The man explained that he had been carrying the cross around the world for six years and, after hearing Tony’s story, presented it to him.
It took Tony some time to gather the courage to drag the cross around the city block. But when he did, the reaction was astounding.
“People were honking their horns, and waving, and saying, ‘Praise the Lord!’ ” Tony said. “It was awesome.”
Tony isn’t convinced that the cross is the best way to witness. But he is confident that his “Trust Jesus” clothing is effective. He is looking to support his street ministry by selling the hats and shirts online.
“God gave me this fire to spread the gospel, and I still have that fire,” he said.