by Joe Callen
President Trump issued a dramatic, on-air pardon Tuesday evening before his RNC appearance.
Jon Ponder was a convicted bank robber with a very troubled past who turned his life around in prison after reading the Bible and listening to evangelist Billy Graham.
Ponder grew up in New York without a father, and got involved in gang banging as a young teen. After getting arrested for armed robbery at 16, Ponder spent the next two decades in and out of jails.
But then Ponder founded the nonprofit “Hope for Prisoners,” and has helped hundreds of former criminals turns their lives around.
Ponder spoke Tuesday evening next to Richard Beasley — the FBI agent who arrested him — who has become one of his best friends.
“Two years ago I was honored to tell Jon Ponder’s story of transformation in the Rose Garden on the National Day of Prayer,” Trump said. “Today, I am thrilled to welcome him back to the White House.”
“Jon’s life is a beautiful testament to the power of redemption,” Trump said, noting Ponder “dedicated his life to Christ” while he was still in prison.
“He has created one of the most successful reentry programs, Hope For Prisoners, in Las Vegas,” Trump said. “Hope for prisoners is a movement that began as a dream, in a tiny prison cell, and is now making a difference in the lives of thousands, truly bringing hope that there is an opportunity and a community that is waiting and willing to offer them a second chance.”
“I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have the opportunity to speak here today,” Ponder said at the White House. “Not so long ago, my life was running from the police, fearing the police, and avoiding the police.”
“Today, praise God. I am filled with hope,” Ponder said. “I am a proud American citizen who has been given a second chance. My transformation began in a prison cell.