The testimony of Jude Darbonne
By Julie Hasling
Born with a variety of talents, Jude’s greatest enjoyment has always been working with hair. So, at 19 he attended and graduated from Lockworks Academie of Hairdressing in Baton Rouge, LA. Afterwards he captured the attention of world-renowned, Scotland hairdressing icons, Ervin and Rita Rusk who invited him to be a part of their team.
One year later Jude returned to Louisiana, opening Jude Darbonne Hair Design. His exceptional skills drew numerous customers and his business flourished! “My salon was one of the fastest growing salons in the country and was voted “Best Salon and Hairdresser,” in The Times of Acadiana, he stated.
It appeared as though Jude had it all—a loving wife and daughter, a beautiful home, plenty of money, etc. Except for one thing…at age 15 a drug addiction had taken root and was progressively overtaking his life. His marriage failed and his business waned due to his drug use.
One day, a client of his, Michelle Aranza, (co-pastor of Our Savior’s Church, Lafayette) invited him to services. Jude accepted her invitation and attended but was still in full-blown addiction.
In the months ahead, Jude’s drug use escalated, as did his arrests. By 2013 Jude had been apprehended four times in four different parishes. In August 2013, Jude was booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center (LPCC) for felony sale, distribution and possession of a legend drug. His beloved sister, Debra, phoned him in jail offering to bail him out. Jude emphatically replied, “No! Don’t do it!” He realized that if his life was ever going to change—if he was ever going to find true freedom it would be there, inside those prison bars. Jude acknowledges, “I knew I was not just arrested, but rescued by God that day.”
Up until that point, Jude knew little of Jesus. Born in Opelousas, he attended a Catholic school but never knew he could have a real relationship with a living and loving God. Now, sitting in the most dangerous pod at LPCC, Jude picked up a Bible and began reading. He said, “The words just seemed to jump off the page for me!” Soon afterwards the Lord spoke to Jude twice saying, “I want you to start a Bible study.” In spite of his doubts and fears, Jude complied. Inviting just one inmate to join him, one by one, the Lord drew nearly all the men in the pod! Soon there was standing room only as men hungry for the gospel spilled out of Jude’s cell.
Several months later Jude was transferred to what LPCC’s Chaplain Katherine Alex calls, the “faith pod.” “When I walked into the faith pod, the entire atmosphere was filled with the presence of God. I had so much joy and peace there. It was incredible,” he expressed.
After 22 months in lockup, Jude went on to LPCC’s transitional housing facility. In March 2015, Jude was released where his sister, Debra, awaited him. She took him in and helped him reestablish his life. Jude also returned to his spiritual roots at Our Savior’s Church. Eager to serve, Jude was connected with OSC’s local outreach team.
Today Jude enjoys divine favor as God continues to restore his life. He has been especially blessed in reconnecting with his son and daughter and his business is well… busy! He’s back to hairdressing at JCF Salon in Lafayette, but more importantly, he works in his heavenly Father’s business of rescuing souls. Not only does he lead a men’s bible study on Tuesday nights, he is actively working with the LPCC’s reentry program, and local shelters assisting other men in the process of transitioning back into the community. Jude explains his principle for success—“I put the Lord first place in my life, and He takes care of everything else.”
Jude Darbonne can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.