Grace Behind Bars – Bo’s Prison Journey

He never dreamed this would happen to him. He walked into prison.

A prison official emptied the trash bag of belongings he brought. They allowed him to keep his glasses, radio, Bible, tennis shoes, t-shirts, stationery. They took away his baseball cap.

They left him to sit in the Cold Room for hours.

Next he entered the cell block and the doors clicked behind him.

“Clutching my trash bag, I stepped in. There I faced another set of bars. Behind me the first door rolled again and banged shut. A voice came from a speaker in the ceiling. ‘One in the trap!’ it said.”

He kept thinking, “I don’t belong here.”

When we’re younger, rarely do any of us imagine a life of imprisonment. Of any kind. Whether it be to appetites or money or substances, we don’t picture prisons in our future. We start out with visions of a free life.

But somewhere along the way, we, too, can get caught in a trap. And find ourselves locked away.

Bo, a strong Christian leader for years, realized that his first prison had been his thirst for success and performance.

He was a high achiever and was accomplished in everything he tried. He’d played minor league baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals farm team; had a beautiful wife and two children; started a successful church in his community; was a businessman and chaplain for the Denver Nuggets.

He wanted to please others. And he did that well. So when a friend asked him to sign a loan for him, he did. But there were things he didn’t know.

Years later, the FBI began asking questions, even after the loan had been paid back in full. Bo volunteered answers, not knowing he would end up being charged with a crime and sentenced to a federal prison.

He’s now telling his story in a book, Grace Behind Bars: An Unexpected Path to True Freedom.


His story is unusual and well-told. It draws you in.

  • You want to know how Bo will handle prison life;
  • how his wife and teenage son and daughter will cope with their husband and dad behind bars;
  • what will happen when he’s finally released.

Thankfully the book starts at the beginning and gives you a real ending so you aren’t left wondering.

And along the way, Bo shares stories and lessons he learned in prison that are applicable not only to him, but to anyone reading the book.

“One shift I wanted to make was to stop being reckless. Too often I’d been climbing to the top of the temple and jumping off —putting God to a foolish test. I promised Gari I’d be more cautious. There’d be no more hurried, 10-minute meetings where I signed papers as I had for the ‘straw borrowing’ loans.

So I put together a ‘personal protection team’ I’d consult before doing anything in business. It included Gari, an attorney, an accountant, a bookkeeper, and two friends who’d given me wise counsel.”

He learned to be more dependent on God and on others. He had to surrender to things that were out of his control. He began asking more questions before he made decisions. He had to move slower.

He learned to trust that God could use anything—even prison—for his good.

“If I’d known that even one day in prison was a possibility, I would have fought the government tooth and nail. I probably would have walked free. If so, I would have missed all the lessons I learned in prison. It had to go exactly the way it went.”

Freedom for Bo—both internally and externally—came from submitting to the process, walking with God, and allowing God to transform him into a different man.

He learned to receive God’s grace.

He provides hope that the readers can receive God’s grace, too. Even for those in literal prisons. Freedom is available. Keep your hands open for God’s gifts. Even the ones in unusual packages.

* * *

Do you feel imprisoned by anything? How can you get to freedom? Please share in the comments.

Thanks to Tyndale House
for the review copy of this book

20 thoughts on “Grace Behind Bars – Bo’s Prison Journey

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think this is a book you would enjoy, too, Michele. I first heard Bo and his wife on a Focus on the Family podcast, then found the book for free on NetGalley. Very glad I did!

  1. Pam Ecrement

    I agree with Michele!! This sounds like a story each of us can learn from. How quickly move without looking too often and how easily we can make a misstep with major consequences! Love this review, Lisa!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Pam. Yes, it is amazing how quickly we can fall into something before we are even aware of what we’re doing. I want to live more awake, but it takes intentionality. Sometimes I have it; sometimes I don’t. 😉

  2. Trudy

    This sounds like such a powerful story, Lisa. Thank you for telling us more about it. I just checked to see if our library has it. Nope. 🙁 So I have put it on my Amazon wishlist. Love and hugs to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It’s a brand new book so maybe your library will get a copy later. I’m always disappointed when I check my library and they don’t have a book I want. 🙁 And even more so when it’s an older book because I know they likely will never get it. ha.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, this is a book I would pass off to Jeff to read, but it’s on my Kindle and we have yet to share a Kindle. ha. I do think anybody would enjoy it and learn from it!

  3. TC Avey

    Learning to receive God’s grace and submitting to the process isn’t easy. God’s been talking to me about the process this week. I can’t rush it. I must walk through the valley…no matter how long it is. I can’t skip to the beauty without experiencing the ashes.
    This sounds like a great book. I’m putting it on the top of my reading list.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Sounds like God is really speaking to you, TC. This is hard stuff: “I can’t skip to the beauty without experiencing the ashes.” Praying for us all to better learn to receive God’s grace and submit to the process. Hard but important!

  4. June

    That is one thing I truly fear, losing my freedom. But because of that fear, freedom isn’t something I take for granted. It’s so encouraging to read stories like this, examples of God’s provision, truly working all things for the good of those who love Him. Thanks for the great review, Lisa!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Reading this book did make me better appreciate my freedom. I really can’t imagine life behind bars. 🙁 I met someone last Saturday who was telling me about his life, including the couple of years that he was “um, on vacation, so to speak.” That’s how he defined his prison time. We laughed about it; it was a new way of phrasing it.

  5. BettieG

    Wow, this sounds like an amazing read. I might look into it further for a friend of mine who is facing possible jail time later this summer. How beautiful that God brought His Grace into such a hard and difficult place. Thank you for sharing about it here! Blessings to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m guessing this could be a very encouraging book to your friend who might have to spend time in prison. Bo really tried to embrace the journey (not that he wanted to!) and glean all the lessons he could from it.

  6. Lux G.

    Such an inspiring, heartwarming story, Lisa. Thanks for sharing this with us.
    I’ll surely try and look for a copy in my next trip to the bookstore.

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