- (Photo: Reuters/Ray Stubblebine)
Tim Tebow, 24-year-old New York Jets quarterback, has earned the respect of criminals across the nation by sharing with them the good news about Jesus Christ.
Tebow has fellowshipped at 10 prisons since his time as a student at the University of Florida when he began speaking with inmates who were on death row and first-time offenders alike.
Willie James Ashley, 55-year-old inmate at Lawtey Correctional Institution in Lawtey, Fla., said Tebow changed his life by sharing his Christian faith with him close to three years ago.
"He inspired me with his message and he inspired me with his walk with God. He helped me see that the Lord would give me another chance, and understand that the Lord takes nothing and makes something out of it all the time," Ashley said in a New York Daily news report. "Whatever trash people may think you are, God says, 'I can make you a treasure.'"
Gerald Evans, 43, was also inspired by Tebow when the NFL player came to visit the Lawtey Correctional Institution in northeast Florida. The former armed robber seemed to believe the football player was genuine in his passion for Jesus Christ and preaching the word of God.
"It's hard to fool people who are incarcerated. They can see right through you," Evans told the Daily News. "They can tell when a guy's faking, every time.Tim Tebow, he brought a charge to people here. He brought inspiration to people here. He is a real as you can get."
Tebow visited the Lawtey Correctional facility twice, and impacted a number of inmates, including Reginald Spivey who told the Daily News that he appreciated the Heisman Trophy winner preaching the word of God at the correctional institution instead of partying with his peers.
"He could've been at any club or party and has the whole world in his lap," Spivey said. "Instead he came to a prison to talk to us. That says a lot about his character."