Kyle Hebert 40 years changed him

At five years-old, fire burnt 75 percent of Kyle Hebert’s body. Strong pain killers got him through two years in the burn center. At 7 and back in school, classmates taunted him for his scars. Enraged, he responded with both fists flying. At 10, his parents decided playing football and other sports would counteract that fighting energy.

           Hebert came from a good, moral home. His parents loved and supported him through everything. College scouts considered him for an athletic scholarship. At 17 his life looked good until the day his father died in his sleep of a heart attack, and Kyle’s anger returned. He joined a biker gang and wanted to drop out of school. His mother convinced him to stay and graduate.

         Still, following high school he spent the next 17 years embracing drugs and acting out his grief and rage. By the time he reached his 34th birthday Hebert had 98 arrests, 5 felony charges and had accrued 11 years in the local jail: a few months at a time. Still angry, still doing what he wanted when he wanted, he had a weekend fling with a woman and returned home to an angry, jealous girlfriend.

That day Hebert did something he had never done. In his rage at her rebukes, he responded by hitting the girlfriend. Startled at his violence, his visiting aunt stepped between them. Hebert beat his beloved aunt as well as the girlfriend. After the beating ended, everyone quietly went about their business without mentioning the beatings.

Nine days later, Hebert came home from welding classes and saw two police cars parked on his street. “Someone is in trouble,” he muttered. 

It turned out to be him. He was in trouble. A neighbor had seen the aunt’s black eyes and called the police. That day began a change that Hebert had long needed. That time he welcomed the cuffs. He did not try to negotiate for the best sentence. He quit blaming everyone and everything and accepted responsibility. 

He pleaded guilty, “I did it. I was wrong. I deserve this.” He accepted 40 years in prison for attempted murder, although he possibly could have gotten off with five years for a battery charge.

Looking back over his years in Angola prison in Louisiana, Hebert sees only the sovereign hand of God working to draw him closer to Him. Because he had welding experience, he skipped the 90 day entrance program. The prisoner doing the welding had a stroke. Hebert immediately became a trustee assigned to help build the prison chapel. A co-worker, a believer, talked with him about God as they worked. That precipitated a slow change in Hebert’s life. 

His aunt came to the prison and said, “I forgive you. You work on getting your life sorted out.” The woman with whom he had a fling, sent him a picture of the son they conceived. Herbert wrote letters to his son telling his story and encouraging his son to make different choices and to follow God. Through a one-day outreach program, he saw his son when he was in middle school. Through the years he wrote and called. At 22, his son graduated from Wheaton College, a liberal arts Christian University.

Hebert attended Bible classes. He enrolled in the Experiencing God course and was invited to attend seminary where he received a bachelor’s and master’s degree. Through the years he mentored and counseled new prisoners. A new state law allowed his release after serving 23 years of his 40 year sentence. 

In telling his story, Hebert repeatedly said, “it was through the sovereignty of God that this happened.” He realizes he needed the lengthy sentence to have time to learn how to walk God’s way. A recording of his testimony at First Baptist Church in Livingston, LA can be found on YouTube under his name:  Kyle Hebert. It’s worth the time it takes to listen.