A preacher who has gone from the pulpit to prison and back again is leading this weekend's 1000 Men Rally in Tallahassee.
Greg James' arrest and conviction for running cocaine back in the mid-90's stunned church goers and the rest of us and he says it took the wake up call of prison to change his life.
He was the pastor of one of the biggest churches in Gadsden County, a 'boy preacher' who grew up to lead the flock at Mt. Zion Primitive Baptist Church.
What his parishioners didn't know is that when he wasn't quoting the Bible, Greg James was selling cocaine.
"I made some bad choices, you know, temptation, greed," James said,
"some things you say you'll never do, you do it, and before you know it, you're in above your head."
James was convicted in 1996 and sentenced to life in prison for his part in a drug conspiracy. He still doesn't like to discuss the details.
"Were you using drugs, selling drugs, running drugs?"
"Julie, you were there, you covered the story ... you were there ... "
"All of the above?"
"All of the above."
But James said somewhere in the succession of federal penitentiaries-from Levenworth to Coleman- he realized his new life of being told when to eat, when to sleep and what to wear was his own doing and he set out to change his life.
"I can't blame nobody for my actions. I must take full responsibility and once I began to accept responsibility for my actions, my life started to be different because now I was able to become a message of hope to so many others," he said.
James started ministering in prison, telling men who'd never heard it before that he loved them, and more importantly that God loved them. He preached responsibility and second chances.
"Why don't you look at the person next to you an say neighbor, God will give you another chance," James said during a recent sermon at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church.
Free after serving nearly 12 years behind bars, James now wants to share that message with anyone who will listen, especially men and boys, and encourage them to make better choices.
"A pastor in jail, drugs, unheard of, but I use it as a way of being ale to dialogue with men to show them that it wasn't worth it and if you continue to be involved in the use of drugs and the sale of drugs then eventually you're going to have what I call an experience that's going to leave you empty. So stop now."
James helped to organize this weekend's 1000 Men Rally in hopes of getting men to step up in their roles as husbands, fathers and mentors.
The three day event starts tomorrow at the Walker Ford Community Center in Tallahassee.