plus True Stories

Detroit Michigan and my empty life there, holds dreaded memories for me of disgust, cruelty and distress. My birth-father was killed by the V-3 rockets, our national hero Werner Von Braun engineered for Nazi Germany’s use during World War II. I was only two years old then and  t took another two years to transport his closed casket remains stateside from the harbor of Antwerp Belgium for the funeral service and internment. Arrangements were made by my mother’s then fiancée. They married soon afterward. My new father was a notorious police officer named “Black Jack” because of his racial prejudice and black jack weapon. My mom became an alcoholic lush; and I was unwanted baggage to my step-father.

So at age thirteen, I drank some beers with my cousin Ted and committed my first grand theft auto. By my sixteenth birthday I had robbed a gas station and run away from home on a stolen motorcycle. My life went downhill for the next twenty-two years until I pleaded with Jesus to save me, and He did! 

Still lost and in my teens, I recall walking beyond the Randolph Street Police Precinct, and heading toward the Capitol Bar and Strip Joint on Broadway Avenue. A bum on every corner, panhandling pocket change, sipping brown bag wine and pimping cheap whores. A white renegade teen in the midst of simmering racial hostility. My bowie knife at hand and an unregistered pistol under the driver’s seat of my nearby car.

I noticed an unusual stirring as people began to move toward the next block and a crowd began to gather. It was pitch black night but yet there was an eerie glow in the sky that was glistening against
the backdrop of low lying clouds. What I was about to witness was to become a golden moment that would change me in mid-life crisis. It was a visual aid to gain insight that the Lord Himself had prepared to be remembered many years into the future. As I turned the corner and 3stepped into the mob of milling onlookers, I saw a four story building with the entire top floor blazing. The heat was so intense that we stood across the street as if before an open oven on a blistering day.

An awe-inspiring circus of flames, climbing sparks and billowing smoke filled the atmosphere in a wonder of ruin run rampant. Pick-pockets began working the street and hawkers were packing local bars with street-side windows to capture the spectacle in air-conditioned comfort. The screaming siren stopped short as the engine pulled up and sent it’s ladder to the fourth floor inferno. Firemen immediately surveyed the crisis amid the barking of dogs and clamor of the audience as the top floor provided a fourth of July spectacle of miniature explosions. One defiant fire-fighter finally took the hose upward, step by measured step and made his fearless stance, too close to the flames, water pressure now at full throttle. Back and forth he fanned the white hot flames, steam mingling with soot.

This nonsense delayed for what seemed like an extended period of time and the people began murmuring and shuffling in dissatisfaction with this lone man not accomplishing a thing. The water produced steam and the inferno raged into the third floor, determined to burnt all to the ground. The whole burning building would soon be destroyed! My own blood-pressure began to rise as I went through a slow burn over the inefficiency of this ridiculous Fire Department effort to quench the fires. This was a pathetic tragedy of wasting taxpayer dollars. This struggle to extinguish the blaze was futile! Destructive criticism and pointless arm-chair quarterbacking called for this uninteresting fireman to go home, let it burn to the ground and save the City this ridiculous expenditure.

What would I do if I were the Fire Chief? Constructive criticism: It was a rational question to reflect on and I gave it a lot of thought for a sixteen-year-old runaway. I had it! I would hose down all the combustible material on the third floor, soak it thoroughly and when the fourth floor fire reached the sodden third floor, it would just smolder out. Yes! I would go to the CAUSE and leave the EFFECT alone.

A lifetime later this remembrance would play an essential role in my management of life-crisis situations in the Name of Jesus. The true life story of the burning building came to an unusual conclusion, one I would have never guessed. But let us go back to the beginning to further grasp the end.

In this depiction of a true life event, the flame represented the EFFECT of the fire. All human effort to reverse or overcome the EFFECT failed because the CAUSE continued to exist and permit the flames of destruction. The CAUSE was the combustible material that continued to catch fire, floor by floor and demonstrate the EFFECTS, sparks and flames. And all human effort to stop the CAUSE was also in vain. That lonely fireman was not equipped to conquer the enemy and neither are we.

What was the answer to this predicament? What had escaped my notice of this dilemma? The firemen I did not see fighting this blaze on the outside, unknown to me or to those watching from the curb, were deep inside the building’s lower level, hard at work attempting to locate the SOURCE
of this puzzling holocaust. The revelation was finally at hand.

Leaving the EFFECT and apparent CAUSE, they had found the SOURCE: a broken gas main! The solution was to turn off the flaming gas line and then turn on the fire quenching water. And so this lesson for problem solving was made crystal clear. The miserable EFFEC of sin (wretchedness) must be dealt with at the SOURCE (sin) CAUSED by our nature (fallen). The fires of hell must be shut off so that the living water of Jesus Christ might flow. Such is the wisdom of this practical day-to-day revelation. Repent of your sin and unleash the source of salvation, the mighty Word of God. Reconcile the sinful cause to Christ and the consequence of sin will be no
You are about to step into your own burning building and share with me the triumph of defying the gates of hell. It’s prize is your spirit. But allow me to bring my personal testimony forward a few years
to set the scene for the next teaching that follows.


Two years after my Christian experience at age forty, word quickly spread about my previous life of alcoholism, drug addiction, promiscuity, violence and worse. One day I received a call from the team leader of a few seminary students that had been doing a weekly chapel service at the local county jail. They asked be to connect up with them and give my personal testimony at the next scheduled worship service. I reluctantly accepted, and wasn’t too thrilled to be voluntarily going to jail! In my youth, I had been cuffed and locked down five times that I could remember. Being four locked gates deep in an all too familiar jail was not my idea of having a good time, but I would do it for my Savior. So I went anyway and gave my testimony. The altar was overflowing with repentant prisoners seeking the forgiveness thatonly Jesus Christ can offer. I felt like I had put my finger into a 220 watt wall socket, an electrifying experience! I continued to frequent these weekly meetings and in time the students eventually graduated and scattered to all parts of the country, pasturing their respective churches. I was left alone and without new seminary students to replenish them.

That first jail service by myself rendered an unforgettable experience that would change the direction of my life up to this very moment.

The inmates began filing in and the chapel was swollen to overflowing. They were sitting in the aisled, on the steps and across the stage. The thought of a jail break slipped through my mind and maybe I was going to be taken hostage! Almost seventy street-hardened criminals were between me and the only exit from the chapel. Resigned to the task at hand, I had a message to preach. I did, and at the conclusion of the message my eyes were drawn to the last pew, the inside aisle seat closest to the door. There sat the most ghastly looking convict I have ever seen.

He was like on e of those neck less weight lifters that are so muscle bound that they can not even bend their arms to comb their hair. He was brown skinned with white splotches scattered about his face and arms and entire body. It looked like he had been randomly splashed with bleach or lye. His left eye was missing and you could see twitching beneath the sunken eye-lid. There was a poorly stitched scar that circled his throat from ear to ear and all his front teeth were missing except the two protruding eye teeth. Satan had put him through hell and back.

Our eyes met in a steely stare with a serenity that suspended time. My blood ran cold as he deliberately got to his feet, kept eye contact and walked down the center aisle directly toward me. I was paralyzed with fear!

When he finally reached me he began to weep, dropping to his knees at my feet, sobbing as deeply as a man is able. I was dazed and startled at this turn of events. I cleared my head and witnessed a sinner seeking a Savior. The sinner’s prayer … finally focused on my purpose … lead him to the Throne of Grace. Holding his hard-featured face in my two hands, we began speaking in prayer of repentance together. Looking into his battle-raged face, something very extraordinary happened to me!

You can call it hallucination, drug flashback, or a vivid imagination, but for me it was an unforgettable, supernatural vision.

I looked deep into his grotesque face and I saw the cherished face of Jesus Christ looking back at me. His Word went though my veins like fire: “Whatever you do to these brethren of mine, even the least of them, you have done it to me.” I was blessing Je

The penitentiary mess hall was tidy but colorless and institutional; that is, void of any warmth or contrasts. Barred windows and sulky workers. Inmates shuffling past counters of tasteless, stench-filled food that fell barely within government nutritional guidelines of minimum vitamins. I suffered through lunch in the Officer’s Quarters and was astonished at how they managed to eat this unappetizing menu with such relish and enthusiasm. I had lost my appetite for this torture when I was informed that the green baby lima beans were really creamed corn! And a fish head was floating around and looking up at me from the sea-food soup! It was a blessingto escape from this noxious event and begin the lengthy walk to the Chapel.

An unpretentious Asian guard or as they prefer to be addressed, Correctional Officer or C.O. for short, began escorting me out of the cafeteria into the dimly lit hallway, down some metal steps and then through a labyrinth of twisting and turning, often loud catwalks past bad tempered prisoners on lockdown.

In one particular corridor, our gait was hasty but my eyes were drown to the darkened prison cells in a blurred kaleidoscope of unshaven faces and slumped or sleeping bodies. All at once I stopped in my tracks and turned back to the cell I had just passed by. I had seen an attractive woman stretched out on the bunk in a very alluring pose!

Now wait a minute, wasn’t this an all male maximum security prison? What was a seductive woman doing here? I had turned so abruptly that the Officer did not think to respond before I looked again into
this cell to ascertain that it wasn’t a female but rather a transvestite with long silky hair, smooth shapely body and very obvious breasts. Horrified is an understatement!

Our eyes met in an uneasy brotherhood as I asked, “Would you like to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and be born again?” He leisurely got up and off his bunk, then glided in a seductive manner to the bars in front of which I was standing. As he drew nearer and I was able to scrutinize him more careful, the only thing I could determine that indicated his male gender were his broad muscular hands. He said to me, “How can I change what I’ve done to myself?” His masculine voice startled me. I responded, “You must be born again. You need to change on the inside first and that begins with permitting Jesus to be your Lord. He is the God of miracles and you will become a walking trophy of his grace if only you will become willing and believe.” He looked me in the eyes and whispered, “I want to do that very dearly,” and began to sob uncontrollably.

We slipped to our knees right there on the cold concrete and tenderly held hands through the bars. A woman with man’s hands asking God for a spiritual healing. We prayed a heart-felt prayer and he sincerely asked that he would be delivered from homosexuality and become the man that God had created him to be. Just then the C.O. took my arm securely and said sharply, “We have to keep moving.

I learned months later that he was severely beaten by his “husband” and repeatedly raped by homosexual “gang bangers.” The prison administrators had learned of a contract on his life so they transferred him to a single cell in protective custody. The last word I’ve received is that he is remaining steadfast in the Word of God and his family has raised the money for cosmetic surgery to physically reconstruct his manliness.

What a thrill it would have been to meet the man from Galilee. To walk and fraternize with him. The disciples were very blessed to get to know him on a day-to-day personal level and the New Testament lets us know about him but never physically describes this Jewish Rabbi that we worship. So I had to look into the written records of the synagogue the Lord attended for this intelligence. The following is a worldly, non-canonical recounting of the physical appearance of Jesus.


It was a gray, drizzly daybreak as I drove my car within sight of the cold and foreboding walls of the double-fenced penitentiary. The guards were cautiously stirring about in the look-out towers with their high-powered rifles plainly in sight. The razor wire was twisted over what seemed to be an illimitable perimeter around this bizarre city, a community of captives. The human garbage of society had been dumped on this sight.

I parked in a visitor designated lot and felt a thousand eyes upon me as I briskly walked to the main gate. The noises that only prisoners make were bouncing off of the stone walls as I caught glimpses of inmates spying out between the steel bars. They had already begun the news broadcasting by word of mouth and runners, that general population would be permitted to attend my chapel service. I had no idea that within a few hours a surge of inmates would be gathering to join me. I just walked in forced boldness to cover up my fears and apprehensions. I knew the Lord was with me and that this was going to be one of those times when I would need to step out of the boat without holding on to the sides.

Once cleared at the electric eye and after a very thorough search by a stoic matter-of-fact officer, I was taken into the cool morning air. That first deep breath freed my lungs of the stale prison pungency of the central control quarters. A world within but without the world. A society of degenerates that only an ex-convict can truly comprehend and yet fail to explain to outsiders.

Across the metal walkway, down the loose clanking steps and through the yard to my assigned housing unit. A muscular, tall officer with a disgusted look on his face was my pathfinder through the shadowy passageways to the prison chapel. Needless to say, I was quite dependent upon him and noticeably astonished that he had no weapon whatsoever. The meaning of vulnerability was taking on a whole new dimension for me. I discovered I could walk and pray at the say time!

My first scheduled stopover was a dormitory housing fifty prisoners in an open security area. Each cubical had three waist high walls in open sight to those officers securing the area. A space with a sense of property: home. They were mostly all still asleep with only a few shuffling about. A coffee aroma sweetened the otherwise rancid air. I surveyed the challenge that lay before me.

It was my dubious blessing to go from bed to bed and tell them about Jesus while they were still asleep on a Saturday morning. I was permitted only two hours to circulate the room and then move on
to the next clearance area, the hole. I felt like David when he first faced Goliath.

Two correctional officers with short clubs hanging from their belts greeted me with broad smiles. “So you’re the one that’s going in there to talk religion, are you?” The tall skinny one taunted. “Yes I am,” I replied. “Well, let me remind you that you will entering at your own risk and the waiver you signed releases us from any personal liability that may occur.” “I understand perfectly,” I replied nervously. I continued, “But let me ask you a very obvious question. What happens if I go in there and a serious problem should develop?” They both laughed out loud and when they regained their composure, the inconsiderate obese guard responded, “You see; it’s like this. We secure the gate from the outside and when the clamor dies down, we go in to see what happened and the medics tend to the injured! You see, there are only two of us and neither of us wants to go home on a stretcher.”

My heart sank to my socks. I had imaginations of brutal beatings, gang rape, torture and maybe a violent death racing through my brain all at the same time. My body, not just my hands, but my whole body began to visibly tremble. I thought of the fiery furnace, the den of lions, then dropped to my knees. They turned their heads as I cried out to the Lord, “Oh Jesus, you got me into this and you’re going to have to get me out of this!”

After a moment of prayer, a peace flooded my soul and I knew it would all be OK. I deliberately rose to my feet and clutching my well-worn Bible, I stepped through the open gate. The two C.O.’s didn’t say another word but the clank of the key and the squeaking hinges triggered my adrenaline. With a pounding heart, I walked into the dormitory and was greeted by a nerve shattering crash behind me as the steel gate slammed shut and was bolted!

At once my eyes were drawn to two powerfully built inmates that were quickly approaching me! Both topped six feet and I’m sure tipped the scales at a muscular 250 pounds each! One was black and the
other white. I stopped breathing as they reached out for me!

“Praise the Lord! Glory! Hallelujah!” The black convict bellowed as the other gave me a bone crushing bear hug and said, “You just stick with us and we’ll tell these clowns about Jesus together! And don’t worry. Nobody is going to mess with you unless they come through us! You can take that to the bank.”

Jesus Himself had sent Gabriel and Michael to life my arms. Over twenty first time decisions resulted from the three of us witnessing the Gospel according to Jesus.


Twenty-six weekend revivals in twenty-six prisons over two states simultaneously! It had never been done before. The logistics of this prison invasion boggled my mind, not to mention the trembling of my heart. Over a thousand volunteers would have to be instructed, assigned, security cleared and coordinated with musicians all at the same time. Well, this overwhelming task sure got my soul winning juices going as I sharpened my marketing skills and committed to this undertaking. Direct mail, church meetings and endless phone calls. A blur of apprehensive Christians caught up in the peer group pressure, contagious excitement, invading prisons for Christ. Setting the captives free

As the December invasion dates drew nearer, I became very disquieted and panicky of possible prison savagery and peril. I had recruited these lambs and sent them to slaughter. The prisoners would chew them up and spit them out. I was walking in fear and doubt. My spirit had weakened and at minimum I had enough discernment to push on into prayer and fasting in preparation for this spectacular event. While deeply into it, the Lord impressed on me the importance of spiritual combat.

The light turned green and the invasion was go when I received an eleventh hour summons from Death Row in the State maximum security prison over 100 miles from me. They wanted to participate and not be left out. I volunteered to do a Sunday morning service and the arrangements were made.

I arrived at the penitentiary earlier than the visitors and subsequent to a very meticulous search I was permitted to enter the confined security area clutching my Bible. I entered a walkway with ten screened cages on both sides that were only three feet square and barely tall enough to stand up in, very comparable to a zoo. Extremely debasing and smothering. I made a stand at the gate and resolved to preach out and down the corridor. I wasn’t sure anyone would show up so I just paced and prayed.

Three hours had passed before all the C.P. (capital punishment) inmates were positioned in these cramped cubicles. Each C.P. had to be brought out one man at a time, cuffed from behind and leg-shackled. A further obstacle was caused by the “No physical contact” rule in effect. The unbroken pathway the prisoner walked had to be first cleared of all resident inmates before they could pass through. This caused much complaining and inconvenience. One by one they were bolted into these disgraceful cages and the cuffs and chains were removed. No physical contact whatsoever. They were phlegmatic and sulky, and hen it really hit me!

I was in an arena with Death Row prisoners that had committed crimes that were so unforgivable that civilization required their lives as retribution. They had all been sentenced to die by lethal injection. Not competent to live. They would all eventually walk that last mile and return in a body bag. The awesome responsibility for their souls overwhelmed me and it was at that instant that I experienced a tremendous illustration from the Lord that has influenced my ministry to this day.

I opened us up in prayer and began turning to Psalm 51 when I noticed that I couldn’t see the print very well. I searched myself and realized that my glasses were missing and I would be helpless to read the text without them. Why would God do this to me? Didn’t he know how significant this service was? What did he expect me to do now? On my left was a murderous disfigured and pock marked face. Impulsively I asked him if he could read this for me. He said he would.

I remembered a television service I had watched where the minister had someone read and he would preach. Seemed like a good idea to me, so I put the open Bible against the thick screen for him to read. And he began to read slowly and reverently, not pausing at all for me to preach. Everyone hung on his every word and the Spirit of God settled down on us in an incredible way!

When he was through, I couldn’t believe my eyes! One by one they dropped to their knees and began weeping. I hadn’t preached a word.

Instinctively, I did a call to repentance and they responded. We then sang some praise songs to Jesus and the sentry ushered me out and onto the street. My heard began to clear and the lesson sunk in.

Jesus Christ had done the service and what could I have possibly have added to Psalm 51 but a Death Row convict to read it? My lesson? The Lord was with them before I got there and that he had
remained after I left, still setting the captives free 2,000 years later!


Walking down a metal cat-walk past prison cells of convicts is an awesome experience that is novel and exhilarating every time. There is an electrifying adventure about it that cannot be adequately described. You never know which prisoner will reach out for Jesus and be saved. It is thrilling to look an inmate in the eyes with love and encourage him to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. I can imagine that this feeling has similarities to a hunter in the midst of perilous jungles seeking the prey and being sought by the predator. The spiritual combat is indescribable in this heart of hell. A locus, a concentration of evil: Satan’s turf.

It was in this sense of spiritual adventurism that I was followed by blue uniformed guides to the prison chapel. We approached the stairwell, serpentine corridors and vacated court yards. Each lower floor level became darker, dirtier and more austere until we leveled off on a dingy walkway with the strongest aroma of stench I have ever smelled!

This was the dungeon within the dungeon for detention of the most evil offenders. A dimly illuminated community of “slickers.” A slicker is an incommodious drab cell with bricked-in windows, no cot, sink or toilet: nothing but the pollution of an endless number of previous residents. No attempt whatsoever had been made to clean up. A hole in the floor dropped directly into the cesspool that was rumored to back up regularly in these cells. This was the home for those who were ill-suited to live with the other residents: rejected by their own kind! The odor caused me to gag and gasp for air.

The officer was determined to hustle me out to this “No Visitor” area. His stride picked up and I was close on his heels escaping this restricted zone. The wall shackles dated back to before the Civil War era of slavery. The men were strangely hushed, either seated on the floor or standing up with a drugged glaze in their eyes. No sound. Silence. No radio, televisions or even idle chatter. A thick dark cloud of oppression: Satan was there.

One of those pathetic prisoners caught my attention. What I saw and what eh said to me has everlastingly cemented itself in my memory as though it just happened yesterday.

He was crouched like a creature on the cement floor. If you looked closely you could see the filth he sat in undulate with the vermin that lived in it. He wore only his grossly stained underwear and his hair was standing out in a frightful, wild fashion. His eyes were bulging and yellow: his fingernails long and his toenails curling under. His matted beard barely hid his rotted teeth and infected mouth.

I spoke out, “You need to accept Jesus Christ as both your Savior and Lord!” He didn’t arouse. I cried out another time, “Jesus is your only salvation. It’s time to repent and receive Jesus!” He turned and looked me full in the face but gave no indication of reply. Finally, the guard angrily took my arm to keep me moving. I shouted behind me, “Why won’t you do this?” I will never forget his heart wrenching reply.

“I’m not ready to give it all up yet.”

I was horrified as he left my sight but not my spirit. I still mourn over those who still repeat those words. ”I’m not ready to give it all up yet.”