Open In App

I was the leader of a prison mosque

Charles McMillan spent 11 years following Islam in prison only to discover that it wasn’t a true relationship with God ...

I got into Islam in prison.

I was sentenced to 13 years for an armed robbery in 1996. I saw a dude going to the cash machine who owed me money from selling him crack cocaine, and I pulled a gun on him. He told the police on me. I was 23 at the time.

I had a friend who had got locked up about a couple years before me, and he came to me with Islam, and I got to studying it.

I was practicing Islam the whole time I was down. The last four years, I was the one in charge of giving sermons every Friday. I was considered the imam, the leader of the prison mosque. At that point, I was all into it.

I feel like I had a second chance, and I was resurrected.

Questioning Islam

I did 11 years in prison. The rest of my time was on probation. 

When I got out, when I was going to the mosque on the street, it was different. I wasn’t feeling nothing. I started thinking, how would I want my family raised? How would I want their lifestyle to be?

I really couldn’t deal with the way they were treating women — garbed up and treated as a piece of property.

When I met my wife, she was going to a Christian church, and I started going because I thought it was the right thing to do. I wasn’t raised going to church, but I always had believed there was a God.

A calm came over my life … and that’s what I was looking for that whole time.

An Unusual Invitation

I had this friend of mine, and she had kept inviting me to NewSpring Columbia. One day, she said, “You need to come! They’re giving away free T-shirts. Give it a shot!” So I said, “OK.”

That was August of 2013. I realized that day I believed in God, but following God was more than that — it was a relationship. I didn’t have one. I realized I didn’t know who Jesus was.

I was always struggling with the Jesus thing — that Muslims would look at Him as a prophet, and not the son of God. There’s always a voice inside of you that will tell you something’s not right.

When I was in prison doing Islam — when you’re in it and surrounded by it — the conscience gets muffled. When I asked Jesus into my life, I knew that little voice was Jesus.

I feel like God is giving me back everything I’ve lost and then some.

Freed from my burdens

Everything just opened up for me. It’s been like a burden was lifted off. I feel way, way happier now than I ever did before.

A calm came over my life. It was like a peace, and that’s what I was like looking for that whole time in prison. I began taking next steps, and gradually everything just changed.

I didn’t realize it then that I was bitter. Before, I was like I wanted to be left alone. After, I just wanted to give back — serving in Fuse, KidSpring, the Care Team, baptism. Doing good frees you up from a whole bunch of negative thinking and problems.

I was talking to one of the pastors on staff about getting more involved and telling my story and helping people, and I checked into serving with Fuse.

I am a Fuse leader now of eight kids in seventh grade, and I tell them how easy it is to get in trouble and how hard it is to get out of trouble — things people didn’t tell me.

Money and stuff don’t define you. Your relationship with Jesus does.

A Second Chance

Everybody has noticed that things are different. A relationship with Jesus changed my outlook. I stopped drinking. I put God first with my money, tithed, and stayed out of debt. I just became more focused. 

Now I have a job as a barber. I just passed real estate school. I got a house, three cars, a wife, and a 7-month-old boy. We had been trying to have a child since we got married in 2010!

I feel like God is giving me back everything I’ve lost and then some. When I thought I had everything earning $2,000 a week selling crack, it doesn’t compare to what I got now. 

When I look back on it all, I knew that wasn’t the life I wanted. I feel like I had a second chance, and I was resurrected. Money and stuff don’t define you. Your relationship with Jesus does.

Download the NewSpring App

Like what you just read? Download the NewSpring App for an even better reading experience. You can read, share, and bookmark your favorites quickly and easily from your phone.

We want you to have a safe experience while using our site.

Unfortunately, there are security risks associated with your browser. To keep you protected we will be discontinuing support to this browser. Please visit for a secure browser update.