I’ve been an Angel Tree Prison Ministry volunteer for the past 4 years, thanks to Irene White, the Angel Tree Coordinator at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio. The way I became a volunteer is a bit of a miracle in and of itself, but an even bigger miracle occurred on the day that Jeff Hopper shared his encouraging story on K-Love.
I decided to go for a weekday hike at my favorite nature center, which is very rare for a day that I have to work. I left the apartment about 7:00 a.m. and went for about a 40 minute hike. After my hike, I got in my car to head home and K-Love was on. Our little town of Boerne doesn’t get the best reception when it comes to the K-Love station, 91.3, out of San Antonio. I usually listen to the station that plays 70’s, 80’s and today, so it was strange that the radio dial was set to K-Love, although I know K-Love well and listen to it often when I am in San Antonio city limits. As I was passing the town’s duck creek, I heard a male voice on the radio but the station was crackling. I decided to switch to another station, but something told me to go back to K-Love. Amazingly, when I returned to K-Love, I could hear the broadcast perfectly.
Jeffery was telling his story of how he and others in his family stole millions from the Stardust Casino in heist in Las Vegas in the early 90’s. I was not about to change the station at that point. He described how the feds caught up with him and he was sentenced to 4 years in prison. He said that getting arrested was how God rescued him. While he was in prison, Angel Tree Prison Ministry asked Jeffery if he would like to sign his daughter up to receive Christmas gifts on his behalf. His daughter was his pride and joy and the hope of his life. He explained that he couldn’t understand how people he didn’t even know would want to provide gifts for a prisoner’s daughter who they didn’t even know. I had to pull over into a parking lot by the creek because the tears were flowing uncontrollably and I couldn’t see to drive. I emailed Irene right away that I was hearing the most amazing story about Angel Tree on K-Love.
K-Love Morning Show had to take a break from the story and play music for a little while. I had to get ready for work, but I decided to sit in my car in my apartment parking lot and listen to the rest of the story. The long and short of it is that God used Angel Tree to open up Jeff’s hard heart, led him to salvation in Christ, and gave him a new purpose.
I had created an Angel Tree Facebook page for Oak Hills just a few weeks prior to hearing Jeffery’s story. I was determined that his story would be posted on the page. I visited the K-Love website to see if Jeff’s story had been posted there. Didn’t find anything. So, I contacted K-Love via email asking about audio of the story, asking if Jeff had a website or if they had any additional information. I guess the audio of the story couldn’t be released to some random person and they couldn’t provide me with Jeff’s last name due to listener confidentiality. I prayed that God would help me to find Jeff’s story somehow, someway. So, I performed a google search with the following keywords – Stardust heist, Las Vegas, Jeffrey (the way my brother’s name is spelled), Angel Tree, daughter. God delivered – I found a post on the Allume blog about Jeffery, but still no last name was included. The article mentioned that Jeffery was writing a book about his life titled Thief in the House. I was ecstatic. I then typed Thief in the House in the Google search tool. Voila – I found a Facebook page for the book. I immediately liked the page and in the comments to one of the posts asked “Is this the Jeffery who was on K-Love this morning? Do you have a website?” Jeffery Hopper responded right away. Yes, it was him and no he didn’t have a website or blog.
For the past several years, one of the gifts God has provided me with is graphic design skills. I do graphic design work in my job, but have also used my skills outside of the workplace and designed a few blogs for some friends who have some amazing ministries. Unfortunately, due to a major depression I had experienced, I had been silent in this arena of service for several months. I had been in the depths of despair for well over 9 months and didn’t think I had anything to offer the world anymore, much less serve God in any way. I’m sharing about my depression on my personal blog now. When Jeffery shared his story, God was healing me in amazing ways and I had started to do design work again. So, when Jeff shared that he didn’t have a blog, I offered to design one for him, free of charge. Jeffery accepted my offer, and here is his blog: Empty Prisons
Thank you Jeffery, thank you Angel Tree, thank you K-Love Morning Show, and most especially thank you Lord! Oh, and the audio of Jeffery’s story is on the K-Love morning page now – K-Love Morning Show – Jeffery Finds Christ in Prison
God is amazing! He is so good!