From Prison to the Mission Field

CARY, N.C. –– Otis Hardy was sentenced to two life sentences for unarmed robbery in June, 1979.

He was pardoned by Governor Jim Hunt in 2000.

Today, Otis and his wife, Wynella, are members of First UMC in Cary, and Otis is helping inmates make the transition from prison back into society.

Although raised a Muslim, Otis was led to faith in Christ by a prison guard, and he soon became a transforming influence on his fellow inmates.

He progressed in prison to trustee status where he was selected to work as a pastry chef at the governor’s mansion. While in prison, Otis participated in Disciple Bible Study.

Since his release, Otis leads a Bible study at a half way house, and helps those recently released from prison to find jobs.

He was honored for his volunteer work by a 2002 private dinner with President George Bush in Washington, D.C..

After graduating from Saint Augustine College in 2004, Otis increased the pace of his volunteer work. He currently is engaged in a southeast Raleigh ministry to persons living with poverty, drugs, and gang violence.

Otis is now a highly sought after speaker who has the ability to relate to a wide variety of people. The Scripture that Otis uses whenever he gives his testimony is “The human mind may devise many plans, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established” (Proverbs 19:21).

He is also able to counsel troubled youth, dialogue with gang members, build bridges between law enforcement and ethnic minority neighborhoods, preach at churches, and bring persons of all races together to address societal problems.

Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2006, Otis was actively involved in relief efforts in Jackson County, Miss. He repeated those efforts in Raleigh after tornadoes hit the area.

Following two life sentences, Otis never expected to be released from prison, but the Lord had other plans for him.

The author wishes to gratefully acknowledge the skillful editorial assistance of Rev. J. Richard Peck, the Communications Director of the General Commission on United Methodist Men.

This article will be appear in the fall edition of UM Men Magazine (release date: September 15, 2011), and is being posted with the permission of the General Commission on United Methodist Men.



  1. Emmanuel says:
    He is one in a million.
    Mar 30th, 2014
  2. Sarah says:
    Otis came and spoke at my church tonight and I am soo thankful. He is an intelligent man with many life's lessons learned. The skills that he posses money can't buy. I wish him all the luck with his future endeavors and may Otis help all the troubled people of the world. I pray that my nephew Michael will see the light in rehab & change his life. I look forward to seeing you in the future at LSMC.
    May 29th, 2013

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