Violence Became My Career
(By: "Happy Jack" Burbridge)
Author of the amazing prison book: "The Enforcer"
Deep seated buried anger in a child is all the devil needs to help drive a wedge between that person and God like little else can do. It took Jack many years of his own pain, and causing others a lot of pain, to understand it.
I was just 13 years old when I began stealing hub caps with my friends. By the time I was 15 years old, I was stealing the whole car. By the age of 21, I was an enforcer for organized crime; by the age of 29, I was a bank robber, heroin addict and next in line for the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List.
My life would be a strange one for a man whose mother had given him to God when he was still a tot in diapers. One day my Mom had taken her two year old toddler in her arms and prayed, "Lord, I dedicate this child to Your service." God had answered, she said, promising that one day I would be His servant.
Over the years, Mom had to hold onto that promise, but she never doubted. God had promised and she believed Him. Each time she heard about a new eruption of violence in my life, or read another headline about yet another crime I had committed, she prayed, "When, Lord? When '?"
When I was eight years old, my Dad came home from the service and trouble came with him. It was 1945 and Dad had seen a lot of war. He had been gone for so many years that Mom had trouble turning the family over to him again; she had been head of the house too long. Their reunion started an argument that lasted for three years, until they finally called it quits.
While Dad was in the service, Mom had worked as a nurse's aide at the local hospital. With both parents gone, Johnny, my big brother, and I were alone together constantly. He became best friend, teacher and father to me. He was my idol and I was his shadow. Johnny taught me, guided me and loved me, and when we were separated, the first seeds of rebellion took root in the fertile soil of anger and hurt.
I stood on the steps of the school one sunny afternoon waiting for Johnny to pick me up. Johnny always came for me, but each afternoon I could hardly wait to see him again. As his 1922 Franklin pulled up at the sidewalk, I ran to the car in excitement, but when I opened the door, I saw that he was crying. Silently, I slipped onto the seat beside him and watched the tears rolling down his cheeks.
"Mom and Dad, couldn't make it," he said slowly. "I have to go with Dad. You're staying with Mom."
The words rang in my ears. What did it mean? Dad had divorced Mom, Johnny explained, but they hadn't separated us. That was the judge's decision.
The judge? A judge was somebody who sentenced murderers to the electric chair and made bad men go to prison. Why would a judge want to take Johnny away from me? I stared out the window at the familiar sights of kids walking home from school; at the sidewalks bustling with people who disappeared into the stores and then reappeared behind the decorated windows. I suddenly felt alone ' and terrified.
Johnny took me home, as he always did. But this was the last time. I stood on the sidewalk crying as I watched his car vanish around the corner.
At first, I couldn't accept the fact that one man, a judge, could have the power to separate Johnny and me. But I gradually understood. When a judge spoke a few words, pounded his gavel a couple of times, everyone had to obey him. I didn't understand all the adult reasons for the divorce, all I knew was that the judge had torn my young life apart. He was against me. He wanted to destroy me. He hated me, so I hated him back with an anger I had never known before.
Mom and Dad still went to the same church they had attended together before and Johnny and I were caught in the middle. It was painful for me to watch Dad and Johnny sitting across the church from Mom and me each Sunday. I didn't understand why things had to be this way. Church, I decided, was an uncomfortable place; a place to be avoided. Sitting in church, to me, meant being hurt.
So I started sneaking out. Our church, Midway Tabernacle in Mishawaka, was the old-fashioned kind where praying could go on half the night. That gave some of us kids plenty of time to find something fun to do. Some of our folks were in the choir facing us, but the congregation was so large that no one would notice a couple of skinny boys slipping down the aisle. And since it was a Pentecostal church, everyone had their hands raised and eyes closed; no one would be looking around anyway.
One by one, we slipped out and met in the parking lot behind the church. The first night, we stuck to the church grounds, but the second night, we got up enough nerve to go down to the amusement park two blocks away. And we really played the scene, strolling up and down the walkways, watching people shoot wooden rabbits or plastic fish for prizes. The lights, the music, the sound of laughter, and the bright colors, it was exciting to me. It was harmless enough, except for one thing, I didn't have enough money. The quarter that Mom had given me for the offering plate didn't go very far in the park.
The next week, all my friends, except me, backed out. They decided that sooner or later they'd get into trouble with their folks, but that didn't bother me. Anything would be better than having to sit in church. I had my first taste of freedom and I liked it. And anyway, it didn't take me long to decide that church people, especially Mom, were weirdos just doing their thing. If Mom wanted to waste half the night in church, fine; but I was going to the park.
One Sunday night, the inevitable happened. I didn't make it back to church in time and I found Mom waiting in the parking lot for me. When she found out about my escapades, she was hurt. What did she do? She prayed. Mom was one of those 'prayer warriors' who figured that the solution to every problem was prayer, hard prayer. When I was older and came home in the middle of the night, I braced myself as I opened the front door. I knew Mom would be praying. The minute I stepped in the house, I'd hear a loud, agonizing voice, "Lord! When are you going to save my son? Lord! Change my boy!" I'd turn the TV and radio on full blast, slam pots and pans around the kitchen, stomp and make any racket I could to drown out the sound of those prayers.
I didn't need anyone praying for me and I didn't want God or anybody else to change me. For years, I flew into a rage whenever anyone said they were praying for me. One night, Mom confronted me in the kitchen about something I had done, and she ended by saying, "Son, I'm praying for you." It infuriated me, and I wheeled around and put my fist through a cabinet door, an inch from her jaw.
Soon after my church friends chickened out, the two of us who were still going to the park found some new friends ' ones who wouldn't chicken out and didn't go to the church anyway. One of the boys, Jim, a freckled-face red head with an Irish temper, had been friends with me since elementary school. Years later, we would still be friends, as partners in organized crime and one of the most dangerous teams in the mid-west. But for now, we were just a couple of kids trying to figure out where we could pick up a buck or two.
When we stole our first set of hub caps, it was just for a prank. The safest parking lot I could think of was the lot behind my church. We didn't even have to be quiet there. We lifted a set of hub caps, wore them like hats and danced around the parking lot. When we moved to the amusement park and clowned around some more, a man approached us to ask if the hub caps were for sale.
"Hey kids," the man whispered to us, motioning us over into the shadows. "Are those hub caps you got for sale? I'll give you a dollar for the set."
We had been wondering how we could get some money, so we accepted the man's offer eagerly. The man told us he wouldn't mind having a few more hub caps sometime; he'd even like a few 'extras' too, like radios, tires, fender skirts, and he'd pay a lot more than a dollar. For the next few months, we stole hub caps and 'extras' but within two years we had graduated to wholesale car theft. We stole cars, stripped them and sold the parts to the man in the park and some other men. They got what they wanted and we got what we wanted.
THE PASSION TO FIGHT AND NEVER LOSE ONE
When I entered high school, I discovered a talent that would become my career, violence. I had always been a good fighter, because Johnny and his friends were six years older than me and I had to learn to fight if I wanted to go around with them. But I had always had a mean streak, too, even when I was a little kid.
When I was just six years old, I put our paperboy in the hospital. Every day when I was out in the yard playing after school, the paperboy would try to hit me with our paper as he rode by on his bike and he usually succeeded. One day when I saw him coming, I dragged a snow shovel behind a tree and when he rode by, I jumped out and swung the shovel with all my might. The bike went in one direction, the boy went in another, and papers flew all over the street. Everyone thought that I hadn't really meant to hurt him, but they were wrong. I wasn't sorry at all when the ambulance came.
But now I was in high school, and bigger. And meaner. I wasn't a bully, but I could take care of myself. One day a black guy stabbed me in the knee and I threw him down a flight of concrete stairs. When he landed at the bottom, right in front of a door just as the teacher was stepping out into the hall, I got expelled. I didn't think it was fair, but then I knew the authorities never were fair. I got expelled again when a teacher hit me on the hand with his stick for having a comic book hidden in my math workbook. He meant to knock the book out of my hand, but he missed and came down on my knuckles. I reacted on instinct, I jumped up and slugged him.
After graduating from high school, it was the 1950's, the era of the leather jackets, duck tails and motorcycle gangs. I had it all. I had already made up my mind what I wanted to be. My hero was the James Cagney type gangster and I wanted to be just like him, a top gangster, not just a thug.
FIGHTING IN THE MILITARY
"Burbridge, you got the right temperament," a rough-looking sergeant barked. He looked me over, slapped me on the back and made me squad leader two weeks after I arrived at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
By 'the right temperament' he meant that I was as mean as a snake. I started fighting almost the minute I arrived and didn't stop for three years. Big and hot tempered, I'd take on anybody, any time, any place. It helped a lot when I went from 182 to 210 lbs. During basic training, I added 30 lbs. of muscle to a 6'3' frame, and nobody could beat me.
In the base championship boxing matches, I emerged as the winner and was scheduled to a match with the winner of another Texas base for the Division Championship title. The day arrived, the bell rang, I went out to meet my opponent, and the last thing I remembered was a glove in my face. The glove belonged to a guy twice my size and just as fast. He won by decision, because he beat me to a pulp, but I wouldn't stay down. I knew I was getting mutilated, but I was determined to last all three rounds. When the last bell rang, after what seemed like an eternity of getting punched in the face, I was taken to the infirmary.
It was one of the few times I ever lost a fight. Instead of deciding I'd better back off from fighting, since it could be dangerous and I might get hurt seriously someday, I just decided I'd be meaner and faster than the other guys so I wouldn't get hurt. It wasn't long before I learned karate and another more exotic form of martial arts. With these new skills in violence, I just got tougher and more hot-headed. If I kicked a man in the teeth for looking at me wrong, what could he do about it?
After basic training, I was shipped to Wiesbaben Air Force Base in Germany, where I had further training, but not for the Air Force. I hadn't been in Germany but a few days before I discovered that the little frauleins were only too willing to play all kinds of games with the American soldiers, and I began a lucrative business in prostitution. I had done some amateur pimping before, but now the profits were considerably higher.
I soon got involved in a host of black market activities and was making money hand over fist. And I was having a great time. I played drums in the base band (twice for Elvis when he was on tour in Germany as a soldier), wrecked cars for guys who wanted to collect the insurance money, raced, gambled, and as always, fought. I got into one scrape after another, had a summary court martial for my 'attitude,' and was always in one kind of trouble or another.
I was a natural for violence, mainly because I was so fast. My reactions were like lightning. I could make a $100 a night by betting guys in the bar that I could drop a playing card and catch it before it hit the floor. They said it couldn't be done, so they'd put down $10. And I'd just rake it in.
Staff Note Interlude (testimony continues following this): Many incidents contributed to Jack's ability to have to deal with physical pain in the military, which then planted seeds of drug addiction that he shares about in the book on his life: 'The Enforcer', but for the sake of trying to keep this testimony shorter than book-length, the goal is to just give highlights of his violent, criminal past to show you how God can take the most rebellious, hard-hearted, violent, authority-hating, people-using criminal ' and turn that person into a peaceful, loving, compassionate vessel, useful to society and for God's glory, that to some, has to be a total impossibility.
But if you read no further, allow me to leave you with this. NEVER underestimate God's willingness to answer the prayers of a parent who refuses to give up praying for a son or a daughter or a spouse, or the prayer warrior praying for a next door neighbor or a prisoner locked up in a lonely cell that a great deal of society would rather see suffer there until death, rather than ever get released.
NEVER underestimate the transforming power of Jesus Christ, because no matter what you may have done, Jesus finds you just as valuable as any angel that resides in heaven with their Creator. It may take a great deal of 'spiritual surgery' by Jesus to transform your heart into the heart of a heavenly angel, but that's what He specializes in. Jesus didn't just die for your sins so you don't have to be punished for them on the Judgment Day if you'll get right with Him (Don't put it off a day longer; you don't have tomorrow promised to you), He'll walk with you across stormy seas and even carry you if need be in this troubled life when no one else will.
You may have spent most of your life in prison, and feel as though your life has been (or is) a total waste. But let me remind you of a little 'secret' that no one may have shared with you yet. God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit has HUGE awesome plans for you throughout eternity! Neither you nor I nor any other person knows just how valuable we are to Him, and how He desires to use us trillions throughout trillions of years from now, eternity without end, that will bring Him and us and others joy unspeakable. No one knows but Him the potential that lies in any of us, starting in this life and will continuously be enhanced forever! But for that potential to be birthed and continuously enhanced, it has to start in this life by letting Him be your most trusted 'spiritual guidance counselor and surgeon,and 'stormy seas water-walking guide.' He isn't called "Savior" for nothing.
I was discharged from the hospital and the Air Force on the same day, in February, 1958. My superiors knew from my records that I had done everything illegal a soldier could do, and had been in trouble almost every day of my three years in uniform.
I had no plans, but I decided to go back to Indiana and find something, perhaps around Chicago. That night, I pumped myself full of pills to make the drive from Philadelphia to South Bend without stopping. I felt good. I had lost some weight, but most of my strength was back. I settled down in the seat of the sports car I had bought a few weeks earlier and headed out of town. I'd be home by morning.
As it turned out, I wouldn't be home for another year. On a sudden whim, I decided to stop for a quick drink at a bar I knew. When I went in and sat down, a middle-aged man who introduced himself as 'Tony' struck up a conversation with me about his son who was still in the service. Soon, he was buying my drinks and telling me how much I reminded him of his son. A couple of hours later, he invited me for a night on the town, but when I told him again I was headed out, he insisted. "All the drinks on me!" he urged. "Come on, you can leave in the morning." Why not? I thought to myself; if he's got the money, I guess I could make the time.
As soon as we sat down at the first bar, the bartender walked over to us and slipped Tony a white envelope. I didn't think anything of it, until it happened again and again. I wondered about it, but didn't want to ask questions.
When we walked into the fifth bar, again the bartender came up to us, but this one started yelling and cursing Tony, then suddenly slugged him. I was tanked up from several drinks on top of a handful of pills, and before I knew it, I had landed on the bartender and worked him over. When I straightened up my tie and returned to Tony, I noticed he was looking at me in a new light. He was grinning from ear to ear.
"Jack, howja like to earn 5 bills a week?" he asked the minute I sat down.
"Doing what? Who'd I have to kill?" I joked.
"Just do what you did then, that's all," he answered.
Five hundred dollars a week, I thought to myself, just for beating up bartenders? Tony had talked me into it.
My friend Tony turned out to be a chieftain in the Pennsylvania syndicate. That night, he hired me as an enforcer for his organized crime operations. I was ready for the job and I wanted the money.
My career was on the up. I was getting paid for doing what I always did for free. I rarely went to a bar without hurting somebody before the night was over anyway This was a little different, however. I was supposed to walk up to a man who had never done anything to me and do a number on him, but I quickly discovered that all a guy had to do was say 'No,' and I got as mad as if he had kicked me in the teeth.
A few weeks into my career, I was sent to a club in Wildwood, New Jersey to do some enforcement and I ended up doing too much. The club was a front for prostitution and other operations, and the manager wasn't cooperating. When nothing I said convinced him to pay up, I got mad, started punching and just went crazy. I busted his shoulder with the butt end of the double barreled shotgun I used and then shot up the place. The club looked like a tornado had hit it. When I walked out, the manager was lying on the floor groaning.
The incident was a turning point in my career, because it gave me a reputation, which is almost as valuable as a gun in enforcement. The brutality of the incident alarmed the local police and suddenly I was the 'dangerous new man' to East Coast crime operations. Across the nation, law enforcement agencies that kept tabs on organized crime activities sat up and took notice.
A few weeks later, I was in one of the syndicate clubs, as a client this time, when I overheard a man at the next table talking about some enforcer. "And you should have seen the club when 'Happy Jack' got through with it!", the man was saying. When he mentioned that the club was located in Wildwood, I realized that he was talking about me.
I had been nicknamed 'Happy Jack' by some syndicate friends, because I snickered during an act of enforcement. I liked the name and it stuck! I was happy.
I knew enforcers didn't last long. For every enforcer that made it big in the syndicate, there were hundreds that were wasted before they were 30 years old. I was just a 21 year old kid with a lifetime in front of me. I liked the way my life was going. And besides, I didn't think, I reacted. I did whatever seemed to be the thing to do at the moment and whatever I did was right in my mind. It would be ten long years before I would realize that perhaps I wasn't a very nice person.
I may have been happy, but I made the enforcers in the neighboring areas very unhappy. Each group had to defend its own territory against other groups that wanted to expand. Power struggles were the name of the game, and I was stepping on toes right and left. Within a year, I had hurt too many people in my zealousness, and now it was time to take revenge. But I was too arrogant to be afraid.
Working in a high crime area like Chicago, I sometimes got mugged like everyone else. But when a guy attacked me, he got more than he bargained for and the results were funny (at least at that time they were). One night, while I was stopped at a red light, a black guy jumped in the seat beside me and pulled a knife. He saw my Lincoln and figured I was some old rich man who'd be an easy mark.
"Man, I'm robbing you!" he snarled.
"Oh yeah?" I pulled my gun and shot him in the knee. A look of shock crossed his face and he almost fell over himself trying to get out of the car. I heard him running down the street yelling, "He shot me! He shot me!" I think he was more surprised than hurt. He ran two blocks before he finally fell down.
Another time a beautiful black prostitute hopped into the car when I stopped for a red light. She started coming on to me and I laughed and reached over to the switch that locked all four windows electronically. She looked a little worried and said, "What you doing, man?"
"Well, if you're so eager to hustle," I explained, "I'm going to take you to my place and put you to work hustling for me."
"Who'er you?" she asked as her eyes got big.
"The Happy Jack!?" She went to work for me and made a good prostitute. About a year later, I had to sell her because she started using drugs - something I never allowed.
One night three high school kids jumped me on a dark street. I took care of them, then took them to the police station and turned them in. "I brought you three muggers," I said as I shoved the three kids into the station. '"They jumped me." The cops had to laugh at the situation.
Of course, I usually wasn't the 'victim.' When I was in a bad mood, which was almost all the time, I would punch some poor guy for no reason, and wind up in court the next day. One day a man honked his horn at me, and I got out of my car, pulled his head out of the window, punched him in the mouth, sending his false teeth flying. I drove off leaving the man hanging out the window with his false teeth on top of the car. Violence was my way of relieving frustration.
After I would punch some guy who had done nothing to me but honk his horn or get in my way, I'd get a phone call the next morning. "Jack," my lawyer would sigh, "We have another assault and battery charge against you." I'd go into court and pay the fine and walk out.
We both got tired of the routine and it was costing me a lot of money, so I put an end to it. When he told me that someone had filed an assault and battery charge against me, I would find out who was filing it, go to his house and tell him to go down to court and drop the charges or he'd be hurt a lot worse next time. The charges were always dropped.
There were so many incidences of violence I was responsible for' and I'm now certain God wasn't laughing. One night a man used physical brutality on one of our girls. I heard a scream, went flying upstairs, and hauled the man outside. After I worked him over, I maimed him for life with a knife. I wanted him to remember me. Every time he looked at his hands, I wanted him to remember that he tried to cross Happy Jack.
A nice old Salvation Army man came by my cigar store every week to collect donations from my customers. One week when he came in, I was annoyed and threw a $10 bill in his hat just to hurry him up. I didn't want my customers bothered with religion. When the old man saw the bill, he exclaimed gratefully, "Why, son, God bless you! I'll be praying for you.''
"Son, I'm praying for you, God promised and I'm praying for you.'' Mom's words always brought back a flood of emotions. I felt the anger rise up inside, and I hit the old man, picked him up and threw him out the door.
Off and on, I worked at a bar name 'the Doghouse.' It's motto was: 'We guarantee a fight a night or two on the weekends.' If I was there, I was the fight. Often, I would beat guys so hard that I'd break a bone in my hand or wrist. Then I would go home and set the bones myself until they healed enough for the next fight.
I'll bypass all the many incidences (they are in the book 'The Enforcer' for those interested in reading about them) of how just about every law enforcement agency in various parts of the country was trying to come up with enough evidence to send me off to prison for life, or probably better yet, hear about me being dead by some lucky vindictive syndicate enforcer. Staying one step ahead of the law was a thrill for me all of its own, though it added a lot of stress that drugs needed to help take care of.
GOD'LL MAKE SURE THE LAW'S GONNA GETCHA BOY
However, my luck staying one step ahead of the law eventually began to run out. Four days after my arrest, I was handed a letter through the bars. It was from my wife, Carolyn. I sat down on my cot and began to read. I wasn't prepared for this:
"I have given up all hope for you," the letter began. "I have prayed for you for seven years, but now I know that not even God could reach that far down in the gutter, not even God could change a man like you. I know that you will be out soon, but I don't want you to see me or the children again, ever."
At last, all the anger and hurt that my wife had suffered all these years had come out. When Carolyn heard that I had robbed another bank and had been arrested, she couldn't take any more. She was sick of the hurt I had caused her; sick of loneliness and fear. I didn't blame her. She had been faithful to me all these years; she had stayed with me and loved me. As I read the letter again, I realized how much she had loved me to stick it out this long.
I had pushed emotions aside for so many years. I hadn't felt the sting of rejection since I was a child. At first, I was sorry that I had lost my last tie with the outside world. But then I realized the aching in my heart was something deeper. A terrible loneliness swept over me as I sat on the cot staring at the letter. I suddenly realized than no one in the whole world loved me.
Overall, violence in me didn't end while in prison, but I'll fast-forward my trying years in prison and now get to the best part.
I began to long for God to make Himself real to me, or otherwise all the 'Jesus talk' that was kept being offered to me was simply not making any solid, real connection. But God determines what each of us needs to make a fruitful, lasting connection with Him, and evidently He determined it was the right time to make His reality known to me personally that wouldn't be a waste on His part, because when He did make Himself real to me, I went into the cell, fell on my knees and cried like a baby. I hadn't cried since I was 11 years old, but now I couldn't stop the tears. My family had called; Carolyn still loved me. God had done this, He had given me back my family, not just the sign I asked for that someday I could have them back. God did love me. Jesus did go to Calvary for me.
I didn't care that 27 other prisoners were standing in the cell watching me. Nothing mattered to me but God. My surroundings fell away, and I was a thousand miles away from the jail. I didn't know how to say a prayer. But I remembered that Mr. Lytton had told me to ask Jesus into my heart, and He would wash my sins away.
I couldn't get the words out fast enough. "Jesus," I cried, "I don't know what you can do with this mess I've made of my life, but if You want it, it's Yours. Oh Jesus, come into my heart and make me a new person."
As I wept and prayed, it felt like God reached down and turned a faucet on the inside of me, and the hate and anger flowed out. The greatest peace I had ever known flooded my heart, and I knew something tremendous was happening to me. I poured out my heart to God, and He was pouring out His heart to me.
After that, God put a bigger, happier smile on my face that many say has never left. The name 'Happy Jack' followed me wherever I went, but the reason for being happy wasn't because I took pleasure in hurting people like before. I was now happy knowing God loved me, forgave me, and happy knowing that I was now working for the REAL 'boss', THE Judge who controls the eternal destiny of every person.
God graciously released me from prison much sooner than what my scheduled sentencing time had been originally pronounced by the judge. But after my spiritual born again conversion, my heart began to have deep concern for other inmates and the families and close friends of those inmates, and that concern didn't leave me once I walked outside those prison walls. I had an ever-growing desire to go back into the prisons to help people find peace with their Creator like I had been so blessed to have been given to me. God placed a call on my life and my precious wife, Carolyn's life, and He opened doors in so many prisons across the country and even out of country that I couldn't begin to count how many now we've ministered in.
You can stay updated on Jack and Carolyn's ministry by going to the following website:
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.
PLEASE HELP US HELP YOU SHARE THE BEST NEWS GOD HAS FOR EVERY PERSON BECAUSE...
JESUS DID IT! and...
Remember: All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity. (Matthew 6:19-20 is our assurance)
Staff Note: Precious Testimonies so appreciates "Happy Jack" for allowing us permission to take excerpts from his testimony book and offer them here on the Internet, and thanks to Jim Barbarossa for sending us a copy of the book in the first place, because we had never heard about "Happy Jack" before he sent us the book. Jack's book is the VERY BEST testimony book of its kind we personally have ever read! Time and time again, you'll just shake your head in awestruck - stunning amazement at what Jack put people painfully through and the high-drama escapes he got himself out of before his luck ran out one day and the steel prison cell door of isolation closed behind him. Get a copy of his book and send it to someone in prison. God is ALL OVER that book! It'll be one of the BEST "lay up rewards for yourself in heaven" investments you'll ever make.
On another note --there's such a shortage of volunteers to go into prisons and minister to the locked up brothers and sisters. If you're looking to be used of the Lord to help win lost souls and then help them get rooted and grounded in God's Word, pray about God using you in prison ministry, and contact the Chaplin at the prison facility nearest you. Chaplains are very busy people, so be persistent. Chaplains can put you in touch with credible existing ministries that are already approved to minister at that respective facility, something you'll more than likely need to be made aware of.
There are many ways God can use a person to help reach the lost in prisons besides calling them to go into the prisons to minister in person. God uses testimony books like the: THE ENFORCER all the time in prison, because if there is one thing all prisoners experience is that there is plenty of time to read in prison. God willing, He'll keep using that testimony book, and others, to continue to reach lost souls long after Jack and his wife have been promoted to heaven.
Christian testimonies are very effective in planting and watering spiritual seeds of truth in the hearts of the average prisoner. Many will find just about every reason imaginable to never attend a 'religious service' in the prison, but many of them will read a book of Christian testimonies to try to come up with some conclusions in what they should believe about God and spirituality without feeling like they are being 'preached at.' And in-so-doing, the Holy Spirit will be working in their hearts, and the time will come when many of them won't be able to STAY AWAY from Christian services because of their love and devotion to our Lord Jesus!
God is calling evangelist Jim Barbarossa from http://www.step-by-step.org evangelistic ministries to put together a testimony book just to be used in the prison system and you can play a huge important part in this missions outreach. Following are some things you'll need to know:
The testimony book will be called REAL LIFE STORIES - INMATE TO INMATE. This book will have in it the testimonies of 40 people that have come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who are in prison or have been in prison.
This book will be a great tool for Christian inmates to share with unsaved inmates, because once a book of this kind gets into prison ... you can be 99% sure it's there to stay! It keeps getting passed - and passed - and passed around...
When printed, STEP-BY-STEP EVANGELISTIC MINISTRIES will make these 208-page books with a beautiful full color cover available for the price it costs them to print them, which is $.80 each.
The REAL LIFE STORIES - INMATE TO INMATE books will be available to anyone that wants to use them to take into, or mail into, the prison system.
Those that help us to gather these testimonies and those that write their testimonies will end up being used by God to help inmates all over the nation as these books make their way around the nation and countries beyond, more than likely.
For the inmates that submit their testimonies for this first Inmates book that we publish, we will donate 100 copies of the book for them to use in their prison.
For those that write their testimonies for the Inmate book, that have come out of the prison system and go back into the prison system as a ministry, they will be able to purchase books at our cost of $.80 per book with a minimum commitment of 500 books. We will also donate 100 copies to them for their help in this project. (Because we do not do prison ministry ourselves, we must have a commitment to assure the books will be used).
Since God's call on Jim has not been to go into prisons, he is depending on people that do to supply the testimonies. He will be depending on those working in the prison system and/or prison ministries to screen; to know the heart of each prisoner to provide real lasting salvation experiences that have made Jesus Christ the Lord of their lives.
This can be people that were in prison and got out, or people still in prison, and of course those who are currently involved in prison ministry.
People that have been in prison, got saved, and now go back into prisons, that have a passion for prison ministry would be a great fit for this evangelistic book project.
Jim will need this information below emailed to him. His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Each testimony typed out in a Microsoft Word document.
A picture along with a signed release form giving him permission to use their testimony and picture. (Email Jim for more specifics as final details are being worked out at present).
If you are involved in prison ministry or even if you are not, your help in gathering testimonies, or getting this information into the hands of someone that can, would be so very much appreciated!
If you have any questions in regards to this, please call 219-762-7589, and simply ask for Jim.