Breaking Out Of Prison
District Elder Anthony Walton aspired to be a devoted husband, proud father, and dependable servant in the community, but would have never imagined becoming a Pastor. Often thinking he was the luckiest person in the world, he definitely found the joy in life’s moments, in fulfilling goals, in achieving success, and in feeling connected to others. Even while attending Tennessee State University, he was often compared to the great actor Richard Pryor because he was a walking comedy act that always drew a crowd. If there was beauty, he would find it. And though his journey to destiny would encounter many twists and turns, he was determined to succeed.
Shortly after saying “I do” to his wife of now 37 years, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for armed robbery. District Elder Walton thought his life was over, but little did he know this was God’s way of setting him on a path for ministry. This became clear when he was directed to Isaiah 59, where his attention focused on verses 1-2, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated you from your God, your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” This passage touched his heart; leading him to repent unto God, get baptized in Jesus Name and receive the Holy Ghost. He knew that God had purpose for his life and that things would never be the same.
There are many challenges facing men and women as they leave prison and return to society, perhaps the biggest challenge is finding long-term employment.The reality is that when you leave prison, you still must break out of the effects on your life. But only six months out of prison, District Elder Walton was hired to sack groceries at a local store. He was later promoted to Store Manager, becoming the store’s first black manager ever. In addition he started a prison ministry and wrote three books: Under the Shadow, The Life Savers Book, and Married or Roommates.
District Elder Walton has been the Pastor of Christ Temple Paducah, in Paducah, KY for the last 18 years. During this time, the Lord has allowed him to share his testimony and spread the gospel of Christ on various radio stations and as a guest on the 700 Club. He is also impacting the community with an Ex-Offender Support Group, which focuses on the needs of those who have been incarcerated and their families, and a L.I.F.E. Savers Class, which focuses on those dealing with life-controlling issues.
As described in Acts 26, the Apostle Paul stood before King Agrippa and spoke simply, logically, and clearly about his life before and after salvation. Today, District Elder Walton is making practical application of his testimony to offer relevant ministry to the lost. It is his individual story that has become his most powerful discipleship and evangelism tool.