One80 Podcast Transcript, Episode 55: Michael Buhrman,
The Fugitive Who Couldn’t Outrun God
This transcript may have errors that veer from the original audio found at https://one80podcast.com/listen/
Margaret Ereneta: Today’s show mentions alcohol theft and a cow tipping.
Imagine being a fugitive on the run from your bad choices, fleeing your country. That was Michael Berman. Unfortunately, his past caught up to him. He found himself in prison.
But as God’s plan would unravel. Michael was completely surrounded by Christians. Who helped guide him to all truth and disciple him. Michael’s faith exploded. Welcome to Michael’s One80.
Ryan Henry: Michael, welcome to One80. We are really happy to have you here today.
Michael Buhrman: Thank you, Ryan.
Ryan Henry: I’m excited to hear your story. But I have a question for you. Okay We always start with a random question from a random question generator. So are you ready for this one? Okay. So if each person had a warning label, what would yours say?
Michael Buhrman: that is an interesting question. I Suppose that my warning label is, “Beware, not as he appears.”
Ryan Henry: That’s good, I think we’re going to find out the meaning to that as we unfold your story. All right, well, let’s jump in. go all the way back to the beginning and just talk to us about, where you grew up and what life was like and your family and all the goods.
Michael Buhrman: Okay. Well, thank you, Ryan.It’s an honor to be here. Very humbling. I guess I’m just a brief little background snippet. I grew up in the Midwest, mostly in Nebraska farm boy from Nebraska, came from humble beginnings. My birth father and my mother, they got divorced when I was very young, and my birth father abandoned my sister and my mom and myself.
That was tough. I really don’t remember him much, few, flashes here and there, but I was too young at the time.
Ryan Henry: You remember how old you were?
Michael Buhrman: I was really young. I know my mom, she remarried my stepfather, Rich, who I call dad now. She remarried him and when I was about five. So, it was years before that. So I was probably around three or so. Yeah.
Ryan Henry: Wow. Yeah. That’s very young.
Michael Buhrman: Yeah, he, just walked away and never, never turned back, no, no birthday cards, no visitation, nothing. So I carried that with me, throughout the rest of my life, and that was a, a big source of pain and, I carried that rejection with me throughout my life. So I think that a lot of my, pain points stemmed from that.
Ryan Henry: yeah, certainly understandable.
Michael Buhrman: So we grew up from humble beginnings. I didn’t have a lot of money, single mom. She remarried my stepfather who was a huge blessing, but they worked a lot.
They worked really hard. I had a lot of free time. So I eventually got in a little trouble. I tried to fit in. I didn’t really fit in, with the other kids didn’t have a lot of money, so I couldn’t have the cool clothes and the nice shoes, plus I was a fat little kid with, braces and glasses, so, you know, it was, it was still fitting in for me, um, didn’t have a lot of friends, so I would kind of act out a little bit to try to fit in and, prove myself to the other kids, I guess.
Ryan Henry: Yeah. That’s, gotta be very, very hard when you feel like all the cards are stacked against you as a young kid,
Michael Buhrman: You said, you kind of got into some things, What did you get into?
well, we have cows, we have corn and so cow tipping. We were drinking and, smoking marijuana, when I was in, early high school and I was just trying to fit in, started partying with the other kids, you know, and trying to find my place in life.
My life really had no direction or purpose. I didn’t know who I was. I really didn’t have an identity. I started looking up to the wrong idols, the wrong heroes. I started idolizing rock stars. Kurt Cobain was one of my favorites, the lead singer from Nirvana.
And Jim Morrison from The Doors, and I thought it was cool cause my friends loved them, so I started playing the guitar and, trying to be like my heroes, course I had the wrong heroes, Jesus is my hero. Now, but, at the time I, didn’t know anything about him, so I was picking out worldly heroes.
They weren’t exactly living god-honoring lives, Yeah. But Kurt Cobain, he was, a Buddhist. He was into drugs, hit the girls, was Mr. popular. So that’s who I wanted to be like, so I started playing the music and I started getting into Buddhism, and of course the drugs, the alcohol, the partying, the lifestyle.
And It just completely led me down a wrong path I’m not blaming him, but if you’re looking up to somebody you are you’re going to kind of mold yourself to be like your heroes so I think it’s very important that we point our children our family members to the right heroes. I didn’t have that and I’m not blaming my parents at all, but it’s very important how it shapes your self image and your direction in life as well.
Ryan Henry: Yeah, absolutely. would you attribute with your father being gone, do you feel like a lot of that attributed to the lack of identity?
Michael Buhrman: Yeah, I do. I was just trying to go with what felt good, with whatever I thought the world, thought was pleasing.
I let that define me. And that was a big mistake. Yeah, that was a big mistake. Yeah. and of course your friends, the company you keep that all plays a huge role, in determining what kind of person you’re, going to be, your self image. the Bible talks about the book of Proverbs that, he that walks with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
that’s one of my favorite, scripture verses. And, yeah. It’s so true because evil company corrupts good habits. It says in 1st Corinthians 15, and it really does It has such a huge role in who we are Absolutely the trajectory of our life right so I wish I would have Had the right heroes from the beginning it would have made it I think a big difference in my life.
Ryan Henry: In that time what was your view of God? What did you think of him?
Michael Buhrman: My parents took me to a Roman Catholic Church, so they did try but I I had no desire for religion. I saw a lot of hypocrisy and it wasn’t appealing to me. I was there for the wrong reasons just because I had to go. We didn’t read the Bible; it was a lot of rituals and, I just wasn’t interested. I really didn’t have a desire for God. I knew of Jesus, but I didn’t know much about him. I didn’t know why he died. I, didn’t learn all that until later on when the Lord was really drawing me to Himself. I wasn’t interested.
Ryan Henry: Who did you think God was?
Michael Buhrman: You know, I didn’t know. I just had feeling that God was out there somewhere, that he was distant, I don’t know, I guess maybe judgmental, couldn’t really identify with who we are. At the time it was really just vague I really didn’t have a clear understanding of who God was or if he even existed at the time, and I guess that’s what kind of gave me some room to explore other religions, of course, I never found peace with those either, it wasn’t until I found Jesus that I really found that peace that I was looking for and that fulfillment.
Ryan Henry: So you had this view of God as this distant, couldn’t really relate to you type of God, judgmental with that mindset and you’re going through the difficult things, where did you find yourself heading.
Michael Buhrman: I guess with that viewpoint I knew that someday, there might be some type of judgment, we might have to stand before God, but I guess in my opinion at the time, it wasn’t really a fact, guess I thought, well, I guess maybe someday, but at the time I wasn’t sure,
I was really skeptical at the time. So with that in mind, I guess it kind of gave me more of a liberty to live a life of sin because I would justify my action saying, well, maybe there’s a God, Maybe someday he’ll judge me, but for now, I’m just gonna Have fun and figure out what’s best on my own, right?
Ryan Henry: Was there any other things that were making life? difficult during that time, you know your childhood?
Michael Buhrman: Well, the abandonment and the pain. I always thought my birth father was gonna return into my life, and because he didn’t, it was a heavy weight.
I used to medicate it with alcohol, trying to fit in, find acceptance other places. I think it definitely led me, into a life of sin. I’m not saying that it was that particular event, but I think it definitely played a, huge impact in that. A lot of that pain and, anger would come out, when I would drink and party with friends and stuff. It was always in the back of my mind.
Ryan Henry: So that’s why when you talk about medicating with alcohol. That’s a very real thing because that could just ease the pain and ease the thoughts. Did that work for you?
Michael Buhrman: It was only a temporary means to escape. That’s all it was.
Ryan Henry: Yeah, and that’s just so difficult. What age are we at right now?
Are we in middle school, high school?
Michael Buhrman: Both middle school and high school. Yeah, right. Mostly early high school.
Ryan Henry: As you were like doing these things to kind of fill that hole in your spirit, did you ever have that moment of like, I feel like this is wrong?
Was that fairly present?
Michael Buhrman: Oh, yeah. Yeah, there were definitely, many moments of conviction, whether it’s my conscience or if it was the Holy Spirit telling me, hey, stop that, there were definitely moments when I believe the Lord was, dealing with me, when I’m able to look back and see those times.
But at that point it was just like my conscience was seared with a hot iron after a while, like the Bible talks about, I was dead in my sins, It blows my mind at the things that I was doing. Yeah,
Ryan Henry: I really appreciate that. You said, that your conscience was seared because I don’t think a lot of us realize that the more that we say no to God, it can really get into this place of, we don’t know right or wrong anymore, you know, when you feel a conviction about, you know, the things that you’re doing and you just keep writing it off, it’s like, no, it’s okay.
And the more that we push that and you know, uh, just push that under, you know, we are opening ourselves up to really not know up from down and left, you know, from right.
Did you reach an all time low?
Michael Buhrman: Yeah, after high school, I went right into the military. I, scored really highly on my college entrance exams and my ASVAB, the military entrance exam. I, I did well in math and science, especially. I had a lot of money thrown at me, bonuses from the military and, college money as well.
So I decided to enlist in the nuclear Navy. it was like the prestigious program that they had. When you score high on the military exams, you’re either going into the intelligence community or the nuclear community The nuclear one paid a lot better.
So I, I decided to go that route. I enlisted for six years and I did, six years, honorably discharged after six years. I did two tours of combat overseas, with Operation Enduring Freedom. So we saw a couple tours of combat.
I performed well in the military, but during that time, my, alcohol use just escalated to the new heights. That was just the culture, all my friends, even our supervisors, we would drink almost nightly, it’s just a regular thing.
When I did get out of the military, I ended up getting married to my son’s mother. And we didn’t last, so we ended up getting divorced right away. We had my son and I had just gotten out of the military and I’ve gotten a job at a nuclear power plant and it was doing pretty well. But then the divorce happened.
I just built a brand new house, then all of a sudden the 2008 market crash happened and coupled that with the divorce. And all of a sudden I was upside down financially. I was just crippled. instead of turning to the Lord during that time, like I should have, I turned to alcohol, drugs, I thought money would solve my problems.
I started dating a lot of girls and, partying and, living the life of sin, going back to my old ways. And started making bad choices. Sin is a slippery slope. It started off small and then pretty soon it was devastating. During that time I had suicidal thoughts, I didn’t have a purpose.
I knew my life was incomplete and I knew that I was not in a good place. Yeah, I just didn’t know the solution.
Ryan Henry: Man, that’s really hard. That’s it’s a hard place to be.
So, you have a child at this point, you’re divorced, things are kind of crumbling down and, you turned to, more drinking. how bad did it get?
Michael Buhrman: it was bad. When I wasn’t at work, oftentimes we would just leave from work and go right to the bar. It was a, pretty regular thing.
Ryan Henry: When would you say that you had a, point where you just hit rock bottom?
Michael Buhrman: Ryan, that was probably when I ended up in prison with a 40 year sentence.
Ryan Henry: How did you get there?
Michael Buhrman: It was quite the, I don’t want to say adventure, but it was in a way, but not in a good way, a very life changing, series of events, following the divorce. I had been crippled financially and I was just looking for ways to solve my problems, my financial problems. I started gambling, playing the stock market, looking for easy ways to fix my debts.
I was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
Nothing seemed to work, and I just kept digging myself deeper in debt and frankly it scared me and I didn’t know how I couldn’t ask for help. I guess my pride kept me from asking for help because I had this facade.
I was kind of like the golden boy. At least that’s how I thought I was, because I had some serious issues on the outside, things were great, but on the inside, I was a mess.
Yeah, So I started hanging out with a bad crowd. And, one night, one of my buddies and I, we were coming out of the bar and we ended up committing a crime and, I got arrested, bonded out, and, I didn’t want to go to prison.
So my buddy and I, we took off for South America.
Ryan Henry: Oh my goodness. Wow. the crime, is that something that you share with people?
Michael Buhrman: You know, it was, we committed a robbery, to make some easy, quick cash. Of course I’d been drinking at the time, a little liquid courage and some peer pressure, definitely was not making good decisions at the time.
I’m not blaming, those factors, but it all contributed. yeah, for sure.
Ryan Henry: Oh my gosh, when you realized what happened, how did you feel after that?
Michael Buhrman: I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t seem like it was real. It seemed like I was watching a movie, I’m not happy that it happened.
I thank the Lord that nobody was hurt. but I was such an idiot, couldn’t believe that I had done something so colossal and so life changing and just devastating. Not just to me, but to somebody else, I couldn’t believe it because that’s not who I thought I was, and I just sunk so low.
Ryan Henry: For sure.
Yeah. Now, was that something that, you got arrested right away? Did you have to like sit waiting for them to come for you type of thing?
Michael Buhrman: Oh no, it was right away. the Lord made it abundantly clear. I was not a good criminal. That was not my calling in life. Crime is not for me.
Ryan Henry: yeah. Wow. do you spend some time in jail or no?
Michael Buhrman: so initially, I bonded out. my co defendant and I, we weren’t ready to go to prison. We knew we were going to have to face the music eventually. So we took off. We went down to Venezuela for a year, on the run for a year.
Yeah. And down there we were, just partying, drugs and alcohol and, living a life of sin. It was just a time of this darkness. I was so lost and I didn’t know if I was going to live another day,I didn’t know how it was going to end, but I knew it wasn’t good.
Ryan Henry: Oh my gosh. Going to Venezuela, how did that work out for you?
Michael Buhrman: Oh, it was, so stupid. I can’t believe we made, such a foolish choice. It just compounded everything,but like I said, I was just making horrible, horrible decisions,and you’ve got somebody in your ear, prodding you along to make even worse decisions.
I didn’t have a rock to stand on. I didn’t have anything to stand on. I didn’t have anyone to stand on. I was alone. I was trying to do it in my own strength, with my own logic. And my logic was skewed,
Once you’re deep in sin, you start to lose sight of where you are, what’s good, what’s bad, what’s right, what’s wrong. And pretty soon. Things that are bad sound good, and that’s where I was at and I was living in fear I was in survival mode I was always looking over my shoulder, I was just in a really, really dark and bad place.
Ryan Henry: Now you did go to prison though, right? Now, how did you get caught?
Michael Buhrman: So we were down in Venezuela and actually the, U. S. Marshals, were looking for us and so was the FBI. my co defendant, we were down there in Venezuela, and he ended up getting picked up.
and he was taken back to the United States, and they offered him a plea bargain because I was still down there in South America.because I wasn’t there, he snitched on me. he just basically blamed everything on me even though he was part of it and they knew that.
So he took a plea bargain, gave them everything they wanted to hear so they could, get the conviction. And they gave him three years at 50 percent and they sentenced me to 40 years at 50 percent because I wasn’t there, I wasn’t there to defend myself. so yeah, he took a free bargain and he was three years at 50%.
So he really did a year and a half. Oh my gosh. Yeah. For the same crime.
Ryan Henry: And then you got sentenced with 40 and 50
Michael Buhrman: percent because I wasn’t there to fight it. Yeah.
Ryan Henry: Now, did you have to serve all that?
Michael Buhrman: No. Oh no, I wouldn’t be here. Otherwise I was going to say, you look young. I’m like, I’m missing something here.
Oh, the Lord was very, very merciful to me and I didn’t deserve it. but all that happened after I gave my life to Jesus Christ. which, and that wasn’t why I did it because at the time I didn’t really have much hope, but we, can get to that in a little bit. Yeah.
Ryan Henry: Were you terrified when you realized they were coming for you?
Michael Buhrman: Yeah. You know, I was to the point where I stopped caring if I lived or died. I had gotten so low. I just stopped caring. I almost wanted it to end, and I was looking forward to, I was suicidal. there was an element of fear.
but a lot of it was just, I was numb.
Ryan Henry: Oh my gosh. What was it like when you got to prison?
Michael Buhrman: Well, when they brought me back to the United States after about a year, They broke the news to me that I, had been sentenced to 40 years in my absence, so I really didn’t have a chance to fight it. and when they broke the news to me, immediately, suicide.
I was going to kill myself. I thought that’s the rest of my life. There’s no way I can do that. I’ve just blown it. I just ruined my entire life. I’ve got nothing to live for. I was planning on how I was going to kill myself, and I was very serious about it too.
During that time, I was angry. at God. I was angry at myself. I was angry at the world. My circumstances, everything. I was just angry. just a miserable, angry guy. Mm-hmm. . And before I could kill myself, the Lord had other plans. and I know it was the Lord because I was going to, I was really planning on kill myself and how I was gonna do it.
and if I was gonna pull my mind to it, I was, gonna pull it off. but the Lord had other plans, once they returned me they sent me right to prison, and I was in Stateville. Correctional Center. And my first cellmate, he was a Christian and like I said, I’d never read the Bible, but he gave me a Bible and started telling me about Jesus.
And I didn’t want to hear it. So I started using the Bible as scratch paper because I’d never read it. I didn’t know anything about it. And I still have that very same Bible today. It’s a little Gideon’s Bible. I still have it today as a reminder of how foolish I was and how close I was to the kingdom of God.
And I almost missed it. but I wasn’t ready at the time. So that was the first, step. Then, I was transferred probably a few weeks later, down to Shawnee, Correctional Center in Southern Illinois, which is a media maximum facility.
And I was in receiving there and my cellmate there gave me a Bible. He started telling me about Jesus, but I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready yet.
Margaret Ereneta: Hey folks. Thanks for listening. It’s about to get really good. So many more people that talk to Michael about Jesus in the story. Maybe Michael’s story is just the 180 to share with your friends. You know, it would be the best news they hear today. Now, back to the show.
Michael Buhrman: A couple weeks later, um, the Lord put me in general population with my other cellmate. He was a Christian. He was reading the Bible. He told me about the Bible and Jesus.
And his name was Freddy. He was an old gangbanger, an old Latin King gangbanger. good buddy though. Very nice guy. reading the Bible all the time. Love the word, love the Lord. And at first I didn’t really want to hear anything about the Lord, I was still kind of angry during that time, but he kind of got through to me and I know the Lord was opening my heart, softening my heart during that time.
And eventually I picked up the Bible and started getting a little interested. initially I thought the Bible was just old and antiquated and, irrelevant. And I didn’t know the power in the word of God, I didn’t know how powerful it was. I didn’t know anything about it.
But the Lord used it in such a mighty way. When I, when I started picking it up and digging into the scriptures, it just gripped me. It’s such an incredible way. I had never read it before. I didn’t know anything about it, And when I started reading it and I was like, like, I had no idea this was in here.
Ryan Henry: if we could just just pause for a second. you go to prison and you’re literally getting Bibles from all of these Christians. I think that probably most people don’t necessarily think prison equals Christians, what a surprise.
Were you surprised?
Michael Buhrman: Oh yeah, and initially I didn’t really understand it. the Lord stripped everything else away from my life and he just enveloped me.in Christ. I mean, it was, wow. He, he was everywhere I had it. I was just confronted with Jesus Christ in every corner, every wow.
Even in myself, on all my roommates. Iit was incredible. It was like gonna Bible college, but now not being a Christian. And all of a sudden you’re like, whoa, , it took a little bit for it to sink in. I had never read the Bible.
I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know the first thing about the Bible. But my cellmate Freddie told me all about it, sort of telling me books to read. I think I started in John and Romans, and tried to get me into Kings also. there’s some good battle scenes and, actually some, there’s a lot of excitement in the Bible and, I had no idea and I was amazed.
and then he spoke to some other Christians and they got me signed up for church. started going to the Christian church service and, it was incredible.
And during that time, I really started seeking after the Lord, getting on my knees, things, I wasn’t doing before and, prostrate on the floor, before the Lord. And, I went to church. and we were singing psalms and hymns and, some Christian songs and it was incredible how everything came to life.
the scripture would come to life. we’re raising our hands and worship and praise. And all of a sudden the Lord just gripped my heart. It’s like my heart just broke all of a sudden the tears pouring down,and we’re just praising and worshiping the Lord. And I’m hearing the gospel message, the good news of Jesus Christ, and it’s like finally laid out for me for the very first time so clearly.
And it’s such an incredible message. It’s like having a Powerball ticket, a winning Powerball ticket. You’ve got a billion dollar lottery ticket right in front of you. it’s at our disposal and it’s up to us what are we going to do with that?
What are we going to do with it? Are we going to cash it in? Are we just going to put it on the side, and say, Oh, maybe later I’ll, I’ll cash this in. Like what? You can have all your sins forgiven and go to heaven and have a brand new life in Christ and, just be adopted into God’s family and, all these amazing blessings, not to mention, we can have a relationship with our Creator, and really to see how much God really loves us when you see what Jesus did on the cross.
the word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two edged sword, like Hebrews, 4. 12 tells us. when I started digging in and learning the scripture, it just came to life. What were you
Ryan Henry: learning? what was the big takeaway as you were reading?
Michael Buhrman: What really got me was that I didn’t know that Jesus was real and not just that he was real that he is alive today. Buddha. He’s not alive today Muhammad. He’s dead none of them could save themselves, but Jesus Christ. He told his disciples.
He was gonna go to the cross be mocked and spit on and beaten, and then he was gonna die publicly and then rise again on the third day And he fulfilled it all. He did it all. He’s the only one in history that ever did that and he did it for you and for me.
The Bible tells us in John, 15, that greater love has no man than this, than a man lays down his life for his friends. And he did that for us because he loved us. it’s like me committing the crime that I did. and he went to, prison for me, even more so if I committed a murder and then he went to the electric chair for me.
same concept, same idea. That’s how much he loves us. the Bible tells us that while we were yet sinners, God commended his love toward us and that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. I was like, even in my worst, he still loved me. And that just really resonated within me.
despite my wickedness and my rebellion, He still loved me.
there was a night around that time I was in my cell, I was on the upper bunk, my cellmate, Freddie, I think he was asleep. I don’t hope he was asleep, but, um, he was down below and the Lord was dealing with my heart. I was raising my hands up and I was just praising the Lord, real quietly, hands up in the air.
And then just like the Lord’s presence came upon me and it terrified me just because it was overwhelming but I could sense his love his presence This joy it just overwhelmed me and I felt like I was floating off my bed. It just It was so overwhelming. Tears of joy were just flowing down my face and I found myself just repenting like crazy.
I I was confessing pretty much anything I could ever think I ever committed, I told the Lord that, even if I never get out of prison, if I have to serve every day, I wanted to serve him and live for him, I screwed up my life, but I just thanked him and praised him and told him that I was gonna serve him the rest of my life.
Ryan Henry: That’s so powerful. I love that. You were like, even if I, have to live in here for the rest of my life, man, that is really powerful.
And it seems like you didn’t have to live there forever. I want to go back a couple, of things. when the people in the prison were giving you the Bibles, how did you first react to that?
Michael Buhrman: At first I, just kind of brushed it off. Like, okay, sure.
I guess I was trying to be polite. I really didn’t have a desire for God at the time. my thoughts were selfish. It wasn’t until I really picked up the Bible, the word of God came alive inside me,
Ryan Henry: What do you think was the reason why you first picked up the Bible?
Out of politeness, you’re taking these Bibles from these guys. Why did you think was it boredom?
Michael Buhrman: no, because I was a gym rat. so I wanted to go to the gym all the time and work out, you know, it’s prison So I’m just gonna spend all my time working out and getting huge, But I started missing gym to go to church and doing Bible studies, which was completely unlike Mike,
the Bible says, if any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature. All things are passed away. Behold, all things are become new. And everything did become new. My priorities shifted.my desires shifted, I hated sin. and I would start to love my enemies, somebody that wronged me, I was able to forgive them everything changed, and I knew it wasn’t me because I’d lived my whole life the opposite side of that.
It was supernatural. And then when I started obeying the Lord,When I really started obeying what I knew that the Lord expected from me based on my understanding of the Word from reading it daily, everything changed.
The Lord started answering these incredible prayers.He put like a supernatural hedge of protection around me. It was incredible. He protected me in some crazy circumstances, and I knew it was from the Lord when I was doing what I was supposed to be doing,and serving the Lord and walking as a Christian is supposed to walk in holiness and in peace, it’s amazing how the Lord will protect you, put his angels around you, just incredible to see that in action in real life. I’ve got story after story of how the Lord, delivered me miraculously.
Wow. I really, it’s incredible. And that’s such a sweet place to be knowing that. That was the first time in my life that I knew a hundred percent that I was walking in the will of God. Not because of where my situation, of where I was at, because, but because of how I was responding to the situation in obedience.
And I knew the Lord would use me wherever I was. And He was using me as a missionary there. pretty soon all of these opportunities starting opening up at church to preach and share my testimony and I started doing that and, pretty soon I’m passing out gospel tracts, Bible tracts and Bibles and winning people to Christ.
Ryan Henry: So now you become the guys who welcomed you in.
Michael Buhrman: Oh, yeah, exactly. was filled with the Holy Spirit it was awesome It really happened the night that I told you about when I was on my bed and just crying out to the Lord And yeah, that was You know, Freddie the next day, he’s like, Hey man, you got filled with the Holy Spirit.
and I knew it cause I wasn’t the same. I’m telling everybody about Jesus after that, I never would have done that before.
Ryan Henry: real quick that night. Okay. So you said you felt warmth, so you’re in your bed, right? And you were praying or?
Michael Buhrman: Yeah, I was just praising the Lord. I had my hands raised. Hands raised in prison. I’m confessing my sins. I was telling the Lord, like, Lord, I’m so sorry for what I’ve done. The, wicked life I’ve lived and I can’t believe I’ve done this.
But you know what, Lord, I’m going to serve you. I love you. I’m going to serve you. And I’m praising him and thanking him, repenting for my sins. And it was just like, it felt like hot. I’ll be honest. It felt like hot oil came from my head all the way down to my feet. And I felt like I was floating off my bed and I didn’t want it to stop.
And I didn’t want to open my eyes because I was terrified because I couldn’t believe that this was actually happening I had never experienced such joy and love and peace before. I felt like the Lord was just rocking me in his arms.
Ryan Henry: So did you know that that was the moment you received Christ?
Michael Buhrman: Absolutely.
Ryan Henry: 100%. Wow. You know, it’s amazing because I’ve done enough of these interviews and these stories that you’re not alone in the sense of that, sensation of the warmth, I’ve heard about this actually happening. I’ve actually think it might’ve been some of our other guys who we’ve talked to who have been to prison, where it’s just this completely, all encompassing, you know, presence that just overtakes.
What’s the commonality? Total surrender in all of these stories.
Michael Buhrman: It’s brokenness and surrender
Ryan Henry: brokenness and surrender. What was the first time that you preached at prison?
Michael Buhrman: It was pretty early on. I got saved right at the beginning of 2014. The Lord was really dealing with me though. he surrounded me with a bunch of heavy hitters, like some strong Christians,
We were having Bible studies all the time. we were going to church together, and that fellowship is so important.
I saw tremendous growth during that short time pretty soon I was memorizing scripture and we’re going to church together and just growing together And these were mature Christians that have been walking with the Lord a lot of them for years And the Lord just surrounded me with them it wasn’t long before, the Lord opened up opportunities to, share the testimony that he had given me and, pretty soon they were asking me to preach and, then the Lord opened up, an opportunity for me to go to Bible college remotely.
I did that and I, got my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree. And eventually, last January I got my doctorate.
Ryan Henry: Wow, that’s amazing. So you are technically Dr. Buhrman. Correct. Yeah, that is awesome. tell me about Bible college. What was that like?
Michael Buhrman: It was really cool because, before I had majored in engineering, I was a nuclear engineer.
That was my major. But then, I felt such a strong calling into the ministry, because that’s what I was doing. I was doing it daily, I was teaching guys stuff that I was learning at a Bible college, leading Bible studies on the pod and church.
Wherever I could, ministering to guys the callings that I think the Lord has put on my life is evangelism, just being able to talk to people one on one, sharing my testimony and, pointing them towards the Savior, pointing them towards Jesus, just like so many others had pointed me towards him.
And I’ve seen a lot of fruit, a lot of souls, led to Christ. when we really are intentional about sharing the gospel message, the good news of Jesus Christ with the lost, it’s amazing how the Lord will use that in such, a powerful way if we just open our mouths and, fulfill that calling that the Lord’s put upon us, the great commission, Matthew chapter 28.
Ryan Henry: so you were. Sentenced to, 40, 50%, but you obviously didn’t serve that. So how did things turn
Michael Buhrman: for you? Yeah. So the Lord kept blessing me in unexpected ways, during that time. we eventually won my appeal. before I I gave my life to Christ, we hadn’t won my appeal.
I really didn’t have a lot of hope, and in 2017, they remanded me back to the DuPage County Jail. the judge vacated my sentence. They knew I had been over sentenced, grossly over sentenced, for the crime.
it was my first case, nobody was hurt, nothing like that. so they, put me up in the DuPage County, jail. And, so I spent about, five years straight there . So I had to wait to get resentenced, but the Lord was redeeming that time as well.
You know, he used me in, a powerful way there as well. he put me on a pod where I could, lead a Bible study and a deck prayer every night, and we were ministering the word to. hundreds, if not thousands of guys over those years. I can’t even tell you how many hundreds of guys came to Christ and, even my parents got involved in the ministry and I would ask them to send in some study Bibles so I could, disciple these guys before they went off to prison.
so they would send in study Bibles and I would pass them out to the guys that I led to Christ and, we would do what we could with them. Yeah.
Wow. That’s so inspiring. just to think about Jesus loving to hang out at the prisons. Yeah, remember in Matthew 25? Um, where Jesus said, you know, when I was, when I was hungry, you fed me, when I was thirsty, you gave me drink, when I was naked, you gave me clothes, you know, when I was sick and in prison, you came to visit me and they’re like, when did we see you, you know, hungry and thirsty and naked and sick and in prison, like as sure as you did, as, as much as you did it to the least of these, my servants, you did it unto me, you know?
And so the Lord is definitely in those places. we tend to forget about, those places of affliction, those places of brokenness. But that’s where I believe his spirit is really, really working. Because remember, a broken and contrite heart, the Lord will not despise. That’s where he can really work on those fertile hearts.
when we’re comfortable, when we’re at home playing Xbox and, eating our steak, it’s really easy to forget about the Lord, and it’s very easy to fall into self sufficiency and, and fall into sin. But when you’re in that place of brokenness, and you’re alone, and you have no one else to call out to, you’re forced to look to the Lord.
And when you’re finally forced to look to the Lord, and all those times that your grandmother had mentioned Jesus to you, or your mom had prayed for you, all those times start to come to mind. The Lord will use those seeds that were sown throughout your life to really point you back towards our Creator.
And it’s incredible how he’ll use those to remind us. of the truth, and that our Heavenly Father is there for us, that He loves us, that He has purpose for our lives, that we do have hope in Jesus Christ. We can have a brand new start. We can have a brand new beginning. It’s incredible, and He will totally, completely change the trajectory of our lives if we’ll just Turn from our old ways, our old wicked ways, which were wrong and go down that new path.
Ryan Henry: That’s so good. Michael, what an incredible story. And it’s still just unfolding, you
So, can you say something to, folks who are in prison right now?
Michael Buhrman: Yeah, you can either go the way of the world
and for a short time, You’ll find some pleasures in this life But it’s all short lived or you can go the right way the narrow way, which is the hard way But it is the rewarding way and it is the only way to salvation. It’s the only way to heaven It’s the only way to be in God’s presence, and it’s the only way of true blessing, and that’s the way of Jesus Christ.
And I’m telling you from experience, when I started out my journey in prison, I was a mess I never found peace. I didn’t have anything. I didn’t have any blessing in my life until I gave my life to Jesus Christ, but, and it’s not just for the blessing. We do it, but
God loves his children. And when you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, God wants to reward you just like I want to reward my son when he’s doing the right thing. when he’s listening to me, daddy knows best, father knows best and our heavenly father knows best.
When we really just seek His face and His will for our lives, it’s amazing what He will do with your life. And there’s such peace and joy incredible that you’ll never find anything sweeter than the presence of the Lord. You know, um, the Bible says in his presence, his fullness of joy at his right hand are pleasures forevermore.
And it’s so true. I’ve never experienced joy and peace and satisfaction with anything but through Jesus Christ.
Ryan Henry: Amen. That’s amazing. All right, for our last question. What would you say to someone who’s just clinging to their sin? Maybe even… running from it. That, you know, they just don’t want to let it go.
Michael Buhrman: The Bible tells us the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life to Jesus Christ. All of us have sinned. We’ve all sinned. All like sheep, we’ve gone astray. But there’s a better way. There’s a better way. I heard this analogy one time, that the only way you can get a pit bull to let go of an old nasty bone that he’d been holding on to for years, is to bring a nice, big, fat, juicy steak.
Show it to him. And that’s like holding on to your old sins. And that big fat juicy steak that you’ve never tasted before, but it’s all, it’s so good. It’s so much better. That’s Jesus. Okay. And when you’re presented with something so much better, you can’t even compare. Those old sins don’t even compare and then you won’t even want to go back to it.
You’re like, I can’t believe I was doing that. I can’t believe I was chewing on that old nasty sin all these years, you know, when I’ve been missing out on the Lord. it’s night and day difference. You know? Yeah. And when you come to Christ, all that other stuff just kind of falls away and he’ll change your desires.
But you do have, we do have a responsibility. We have a responsibility to resist sin, resist the devil. And that takes effort. It does take effort. It takes prayer, lots of prayer. I’ll be honest with you, I was fasting, we were fasting and praying, and I’m telling you, everything was changing. I mean, when you really put forth the effort, the Lord sees that.
He sees what you’re doing, and He knows that you’re trying. And He knows we’re weak. The Lord knows I’m weak, but when you stumble, you get back up again. You bring it to the Lord, ask Him for help, ask Him for power and strength. You ask your brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for you, and the Lord will deliver you.
It doesn’t matter what it is. He’ll take it all. Praise God.
Ryan Henry: Praise God. That’s so good. well, Michael, this has been incredible. Sometimes, well, I’ll say today, I have a last, last question. And the last, last question is this. Did you actually ever tip a cow?
Michael Buhrman: Unfortunately not, it’s still on my bucket list. I
Ryan Henry: had a feeling, I was like, I think he’s just talking generalities. He probably never actually tipped over a cow, okay, well maybe sometime, you know, we’ll go to Nebraska and. find a cow to tip. I’m looking forward to it.
Yeah, but we won’t get ourselves in trouble. Well, it’s been great having you.
Michael Buhrman: Amen.
Ryan Henry: Amen, Michael. Well, bless you. It’s been great. I really appreciate your vulnerability and sharing everything, man. Have a great, great
Michael Buhrman: day. You too. Thank you so much.
Thanks for tuning in today. Please enjoy today’s sendoff a poem by blind Tony Inspired by Michael’s 180.
Blind Tony: God’s love is all pervasive, filling the earth, infusing the entire universe with purpose and worth. And even when we’re rebellious and decide to turn away, God still faithfully keeps loving us day after day. We can become fugitives, running and hiding, but God patiently and persistently just keeps on providing for all our needs and even for our so called plans.
Blind Tony: He’s got the whole world in His hands. And if you think you’re shrewd and highly individually capable, God’s love is still inescapable because God desires that everyone be saved from the cradle to the grave. And here’s the bottom line rub. There is no escape in God’s love.