2012 Fall - Crossroad Bible Institute
by Stacy Ladenburger
Artwork created by Johnny, a CBI student,
reflects a worldview forged through a
tumultuous path, unyielding addictions and
years of a wavering sense of self. Though he
does not shy from depicting darkness, his
drawings convey hope as well. “I always look to
the Light,” he explains. “I wish to share that
Light with the world.”
Johnny was born in the late 1960s to an
American mother who had spent several years
behind bars and an immigrant father with a wife
and children still in Mexico. He recalls judgment
and ostracization because of his family’s
makeup, even in the church.
Despite his mother’s best efforts, Johnny’s
childhood was marred by violence, drugs,
alcohol and abuse. As if this were not enough,
he also witnessed the motorcycle accident that
took his father’s life.
No one noticed Johnny’s fears or
struggles, and he escaped through
drawing. But he soon turned to less
innocent means of coping. By age
twelve, he was using and dealing
drugs, drinking regularly and involved in gangs.
These bad habits would enslave him for years.
Johnny was shipped from his home in Michigan
to his father’s family in Texas, too much for his
mother to handle. He admired the extravagant,
reckless lives of his aunts and uncles, and
he joined in. “They had me mesmerized,”
When Johnny returned to Michigan, only fifteen
years old, he had a plan. He would go back to
school, and he would make money through
what he had unearthed as the lucrative family
business: selling drugs.
Soon, Johnny was known on the streets and beyond. He
would do anything for money; his life was violent and his
relationships abusive. With regret, he says, “I didn’t know
what real love was or what honesty and healthy
relationships were about. I never had a healthy example.
I learned to be about survival and selfishness.”
After a short stint behind bars, Johnny’s behavior
escalated. He became a limousine driver, running with a
wealthy crowd and spending a thousand dollars on
cocaine each night. He also became a tattoo artist and
was inspired by those who helped teach him the craft.
But as his addictions took over, he once again
abandoned his artwork.
Johnny joined a band and toured the country, wasting his
money on drugs and alcohol and cycling in and out of
jail. For over a decade, he never lived in one place for
more than six months.
When Johnny met a woman who attended a church filled
with bikers, recovering addicts and tattooed Christians,
he was in awe—and soon in love as well.
One day, his girlfriend’s young daughter remarked that an
intoxicated family member “smelled like Johnny,” and
something clicked. Johnny remembered being a child like
her, surrounded by alcoholics and addicts. His heart
broke upon realizing he was one of them.
Johnny was interested in God and in sobriety, but he was
also bound tightly to his addictions. When, inevitably, his
relationship ended, he went on a binge that ended with a
suicide attempt. But as he was trying to take his life, a
clear voice echoed in his head: Not like this.
Miraculously, Johnny survived, and he was finally ready
to change. He stopped using drugs and drinking, went
through a painful withdrawal, checked himself into rehab
and went to church, where he pleaded with God for help.
How Essential is the Atonement
for Restorative Justice?
A Special Lecture for Restorative Justice Week
Dr. David Schuringa
Crossroad Bible Institute, Grandville, MI
7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Registration Deadline: November 6, 2012
All seminars are free of charge, but advanced registration is requested.
Please register by calling CBI at 1-800-668-2450 or going online to www.cbi.fm.
And in His great mercy, God answered. Johnny received
grace, salvation and tangible assistance from the
church’s recovery program. “I had a great support team,”
he comments. “Finally, a family that was dysfunctional
but had the answers on how to live!”
Things were looking up. Johnny was playing in the
church’s worship band, speaking to young people
and trying to get his GED. He looked for housing. He
found a job.
This piece was done with a simple
pencil and influenced by the art I
had seen in the Crossroad Journal
of the Arts. I chose black and gray
in a tattoo style. I used some
traditional Japanese clouds and
waves, with a West Coast vibe in
the overall layout.
But then, the past came crashing back in, and Johnny
was trapped between the promise of his new life and the
importance of doing the right thing. With honesty and
humility, he surrendered to the police for a crime
committed years before.
We all have been prisoners at one
point in our lives, to something or
someone. Pain is a great source of
motivation, and when the pain gets
worse than the fear, you’re ready
to do something about your
situation. I see my pain as a gift
now. I am able to see beauty in the
darkest things now. Sometimes
that which light shines upon turns
into light itself.
In the years since the start of his incarceration in 2008,
Johnny has demonstrated that his transformation was
genuine. He remains heavily involved in the recovery
programs that were so important to him on the outside,
starting groups whenever he moves to a new facility.
In 2009, Johnny discovered CBI. He is enthusiastic about
not only the program but also the artistic opportunities
Crossroad provides. One of his original pieces, Beauty in
a Dark Storm, was featured in the Crossroad Journal of
the Arts and now hangs in CBI’s Inmate Art Gallery.
Limited materials, space and money cannot stifle the
determination that Johnny, like so many CBI student
artists, has for his craft. He explains, “I have a purpose
now: to serve God and give back that which I was
Visit the Inmate Art Gallery at
CBI headquarters to view Beauty
in a Dark Storm, or purchase a
And indeed, through his art and through
his life, this CBI student truly reflects the
radiant light of Christ.
Stacy serves as the Executive Editor at CBI
BEAUTY IN A DARK STORM BY CBI STUDENT JOHNNY
Located at 2976 Ivanrest SW, Grandville, MI 49418
Call Crossroad Bible Institute to schedule a
Group Tour • 616-530-1300
The Big House Has Many Rooms
by H. David Schuringa
Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but I snuck away to write this to you during my vacation. It’s our fortieth
wedding anniversary, and we are celebrating for a week with our children and (living) grandchildren.
It was my wife’s idea that we find a big house where all twenty-four of us could stay together for a week. My son Tim
found an awesome place only a five-minute walk from Lake Michigan. Mary and I were the first to arrive. Then, over the
course of a couple days, everyone showed up as scheduled.
In this big house are many rooms—enough for all. The older grandkids squealed with delight when they discovered the
third floor loft that they would share. With the members of our group ranging in age from ten weeks to sixty years, we
are eating together, laughing together, walking together, reminiscing together. There’s none of the chaos that,
regrettably, CBI student Johnny experienced as a child, or the drama found in dysfunctional reality television shows;
instead we have only abounding joy in one another’s presence.
There is something special about having the entire family under one roof. Wish it could last forever.
Sometimes prison is referred to as “the big house,” but I have another big house in mind as I write this. Jesus said, “In
my Father’s house are many rooms. I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).
Imagine that! A house large enough for God’s entire family. A family that is no longer dysfunctional. An amazing time of
abounding joy together that never ends.
Our mission at Crossroad Bible Institute is to reach as many as possible in the big house of prison in order to reserve a
place for them in the biggest house, God’s house. Some will arrive sooner than others, but we will all get there for
Jesus’ sake, right on schedule—including those like Johnny who will have traveled a long, tough road to get there.
And God is using you to make it happen, as we bring His Word and His love to people behind bars all around the world.
Now, I need to get back to the family vacation. The grandkids are putting on a play that I think they’re calling
The Hunger Games. Please don’t tell anyone that I was “working”! I just wanted to share with you a little foretaste
Thanks for your partnership in the Gospel to proclaim this good news for the whole family. It’s no secret that you are
part of something truly amazing, welcoming tens of thousands into God’s big house.
Dr. Schuringa is the President of Crossroad Bible Institute
P.O. Box 900
Grand Rapids, MI
Senior EditorH. David Schuringa
Executive EditorStacy Ladenburger
Graphic DesignChad Cole
Project CoordinatorsEunice Schippers and Jan VanderVeen
Copyright © 2012 CBI Publishing Center Crossroad Extra is a quarterly publication. All Rights Reserved