BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - After 45 years in jail, Wilbert Jones found his freedom last month. Now, he's found his church family. The Ministry of Love surprised him Thursday night at their annual Giving Back Ministry.
"He just has that love in his heart, genuine and real kind-hearted man," said church pastor, Dr. Bridget Steib.
The Giving Back Ministry is an annual event where church members draw tickets to spin a wheel and win cash, but Jones didn't even have to lift a finger. "We want to recognize a special person that's so beautiful in our lives," Steib said before calling Jones to the front of the sanctuary. "We put aside a seed for you," she said as she handed him a check for $500.
Steib says the $500 he got Thursday night is just the beginning of the church's commitment to help Jones rebuild his life. "I'm grateful that the Lord would just put him in our trust, I mean just to love him and nourish him and hold on to him, because we really, really love Uncle Wilbert," she added.
"I want y'all to know don't give up on hope," Jones told the parishoners. "With God, all things are possible."
But his legal challenges are not over yet. East Baton Rouge prosecutors have asked the Louisiana Supreme Court to reinstate the kidnapping and rape conviction that sent him to prison in 1974.
Jones has said he's not worried, because he's innocent.