SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A convicted felon turned Springfield pastor is looking back on his recovery after being pardoned by Governor Mike Parson.
John Stroup served time in prison for a drug charge in 2008.
“I was a drug dealer, then I became a drug addict, then I became a homeless junkie,” said Stroup. “And so, to have my record wiped clean and have my felony taken away, it’s a big deal to me.”
Stroup is now an executive director and pastor of Freeway Ministries. He said he first found Christ a decade ago.
“I had a missionary write me in prison, he came and got me 21 days after I got out of prison and brought me here,” said Stroup. “I started my journey in Springfield at 636 N. Booneville Ave.”
That address takes you to Harbor House, The Salvation Army’s shelter for men. This is where the idea of Freeway Ministries began.
The thought of applying for clemency happened years later when he met Governor Mike Parson at the Annual Legislative Prayer Breakfast in his hometown of Jefferson City.
“The pardon is part of a bucket list for me,” said Stroup. “Christ already pardoned me in heaven, I’ve been pardoned since 2008, but I would like to have the rights that everyone else has as a citizen. To be able to take my son hunting, to be able to defend my home, to be able to go to other countries that I want to go to that being a felon would keep me from going.”
Stroup said the man he was in 2007 wouldn’t reconize him today.
“Coming from my background of poverty, marginalized, homeless, drug addicted,” said Stroup. “Just because your family was deep in crime and addiction doesn’t mean you have to be deep in crime and addiction. There is hope. That generational thing doesn’t have to happen.”
Through his work as a pastor, Stroup said judges from seven different counties in Missouri are now sending men and women facing charges to Freeway Ministries here in Springfield as an alternative to serving time in jail or prison.