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He Got High and Broke into a Church. Later, He Was Baptized There

It was one of the worst days of 23-year-old Brenton Winn’s life. But it paved the way for one of the best. He was angry at God after he relapsed from an addiction to methamphetamines. Winn knew nothing about Central Baptist Church of Conway, Arkansas, when he broke in that evening. High on drugs, Winn went on a rampage and destroyed $100,000 of church property.

Six months later Winn was baptized at Central Baptist. He said, “As I’m starting to understand how God works, I’ve realized I didn’t pick the church that night. God picked me. If it had been any other church, I think I’d be sitting in prison right now.”

Winn’s journey from a jail cell in February to a baptismal pool in September began when Central Baptist senior pastor, Don Chandler, talked to the prosecutor. Chandler knew the godly response to Winn would be to offer forgiveness rather than judgment.

Chandler said, “You can’t preach grace for 50 years without practicing it, especially in front of your whole church …This was a young man who had made some mistakes. He was on drugs and alcohol when he did what he did. But he was redeemable.”

Chandler told the prosecutor that the church would like to see Winn get help with Renewal Ranch, a faith-based residential recovery ministry. The judge, who at the time had been a board member of Renewal Ranch, gave Winn the option. He could either go to jail, potentially for 20 years, or he could voluntarily choose to go to Renewal Ranch. Winn chose Renewal Ranch.

Winn accepted Christ as his Savior after one of the Bible studies at Renewal Ranch. Winn and other ranch residents attend church at Central Baptist on Wednesday evenings. Winn chose to be baptized at the church on one of those Wednesday nights.

Winn said. “I gave my heart to Christ. I used to think it was a coincidence [that I chose to break into the church], but now I call it confirmation that God is real, and he answers prayers. I needed a relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

While our life story will be different, what is true for this young man is true for every one of us. God is still working a beautiful story of grace in every one of our lives.


Tobin Perry, “He Got High and Broke Into a Church. Months Later, He Was Baptized There, Christianity Today online (10-11-19)

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