January 1, 2001
A NEW YEAR, A NEW MILLENNIUM
As I begin this New Year, I pray that, with God’s help, I can continue to
touch lives with His love, grace and compassion. I pray with all my heart that
someone will be
encouraged by what I have to say either by video, radio programs, or by my
written testimonies and other writings and letters.
It is my calling, just like that of any other Christian, to spread the
Good News that Jesus Christ forgives sins, and that he heals brokenhearted
souls. He sets captives free. And
He still reaches out to the outcasts and
to those who think they have no hope.
I pray that God will continue to use me and that the enemy of my soul,
Satan, who is always seeking to destroy me and to somehow discredit my testimony
will be bound by the power of God.
And I pray and thank God for all my Christian brothers and sisters who
have, over the years, given so much of their time and effort to help me through
letters of encouragement and by their prayers.
am so grateful and I am continually amazed at God’s mercy towards me. Looking
back over the year 2000, so much has
been accomplished to further the gospel.
And the best part is, I believe, that God isn’t finished with me
January 3, 2001
To everything there is a season, and
a time to every
purpose under heaven.
REACHING OUT TO THE
One thing I hope
to see accomplished, and
something I have been fervently praying for, is the healing of those whom I have
hurt in the past, the victims of my crimes. They are the survivors of this
knows that I would do everything within my power
to go back and change things, to have prevented what happened. I cannot do
this. No one can go back and undo their mistakes.
I have much regret, grief, shame and sorrow,
over my past actions. Jesus Christ knows that I am fully confident in His
that He has forgiveven me totally
And I no longer have to be eaten
away by these
The Lord has
given me His peace. His peace is not
something that I deserve. I do not deserve it and I never will. But the Bible
assures me that God's peace is available to all who put their trust in Him. and
this includes me.
Christ has shown me over
how to take the painful feelings of
shame, and sorrow, and turn them into
In every TV or radio interview I was able to give since the INSIDE EDITION
program of 1993, I have always expressed my remorse
and sorrow for what I have done.
And thank God for the
opportunity to do this.
In every possible
way, I have publicly expressed my
shame, sorrow, and regret. I have
said that I am sorry again and again.
And this year, I
hope to be able to reach out to some of my victims, as the Lord makes a way. I
want to express to each family (privately) my apologies, and to ask for their
from a large church in Brooklyn, New
York, has offered his help in reaching out to these crime victims. This is a
sensitive and delicate thing, which not only requires much prayer, but also much
wisdom. I am waiting for the right time.
times when I wanted to do this several years ago. But then came the
Such as the "Summer
movie, and the related media publicity, which went to
humongous levels. Old wounds were re-opened. So all I could do was to keep
Thus far I have already written to one
party. My letter was well received. This is a miracle and I truly believe that
God went before me to open their heart. It does not mean they have forgiven
me, but it is a start. And even if no one forgives me, I will still be thankful
for the chance to have shared my sorrow and remorse with them. I know this is
the right and honorable thing to do.
This is all I will write for
January 4, 2001 (continued)
I feel stupid
for allowing myself to be
controlled by thoughts that I am now convinced were not all my own. I know some
people will see this as a “cop
out” or a state of denial. They can
think what they want. But over time as
God began to heal my mind, I began to understand these things.
What I am saying is not crazy stuff.
Any Christian who understands the things about God will tell you that
what I am saying is correct. Even Dr.
Billy Graham will state that the Spirit of God is fully capable of speaking to a
person’s heart and mind. Christians all
throughout the world will attest to hearing the voice of God speaking to their
spirit and also, at times, being able to know the mind of God.
In any event, over time God has
spoken very clearly to my mind and He has indeed revealed these things to
me. Thanks to Him, I have a better
understanding of what had happened and how this “Son of Sam” tragedy all came
about. It is too painful to dwell upon
and I seldom think about it anymore. I
am only going over these things at this time for this journal, that perhaps
others may better understand the powers of darkness, and hopefully even better
appreciate God’s powers of love, forgiveness, healing, and
And I want to end today’s entry with a short prayer:
“Lord, I ask you to continue to bring healing into the lives of those
whom I have hurt in the past. Touch them
with your love and help them to cope with the pain and loss and grief that never
seems to go away. Thank You, Father
God. In Jesus’ Name,
January 8, 2001
them that do rejoice, and weep
with them that weep.”
Jack* died today. He had been in
prison for maybe fifteen years and he was in his 40s. It was AIDS.
As far as I know he was not a Christian, and during our many talks, he
always insisted that his help was coming from the “Hindu goddess Kali” as well
as the “Virgin Mary”, and his “Santeria powers.”
Jack was a jailhouse lawyer and a fighter. I watched this stubborn and
waste away, his skin covered with brownish-colored open sores. It was gross to
met Jack several years ago in the “Big Yard.”
He used to watch the Christian brothers walk around with our Bibles. During
the warmer weather the open yard was a
place for some of us to meet impromptu.
Whenever a Christian showed up he hung out with the other brothers. And
of course inviting some unsaved men to
pal around with us was the common practice.
And so here came Jack.
When I worked in the chapel as a clerk, which I did for several years.
Jack would almost always drop by for a discussion. He worked as a porter in the
complex. Naturally I witnessed to him
many times, and so did many of the other Christians.
Jack was so stubborn, convinced he could solve life’s problems and lick
AIDS by “thinking positive”. But he did
go to a number of our services, sometimes on Sundays and at other times when
various ministries would come in.
wish I had some kind of confirmation in my heart that Jack turned to Christ and
received Jesus as his Savior before he died.
I watched him get sicker as time went on. There would be weeks when I
would not see him
because he was in the hospital. He went
on many medical trips for treatments. He
battled his sickness every step of the way.
Last week, I heard that, once again, Jack was admitted to the prison
hospital. As with many who have the
virus, (or as it is nicknamed, “the Monster”), they make their trips back and
forth to the hospital. But as they each
get sicker and weaker there’s that one “last trip.” This one
He never returned. Quietly a few
corrections officer went into his cell in the housing unit he lived in, and they
packed his things. This is how everyone
knew that Jack won’t be back.
He was well liked and respected among the inmates. So everyone in the
prison was talking about
it. When I got the news I wept silently
for him and I will remember to keep his family in my prayers.
don’t know who or where they are. But
within the next several days or weeks someone from his family will have to come
and claim his personal property (which is now in temporary storage). And
they will have to claim his body for
However, if no one claims him, Jack will be in our Potter’s Field. Every
maximum-security prison has a Potter’s
Field. It comes with the territory
because not every inmate gets out of prison alive, and not every inmate has a
In fact, even some who do have families, they have the option to refuse
to get the remains. This sometimes
happens, either because of no money or
hope that my friend Jack gets a decent burial, at least. But most of all, I hope
to see him in heaven
*Jack is not his real name
January 11, 2001
have not made many entries in my journal of late. I started off this new year
tired. So I have tried to slow the pace
down to get refreshed physically and spiritually.
I’ve been busy going to chapel services and Bible studies, answering
letters and writing messages. The Lord
has opened many small doors for me to share my testimony with young people. Mostly
the crown that is confined to juvenile
detention centers. You know, the teens
who are one step away form either going to prison or to an early
Christ can give them hope and turn their lives around, if they will let
Him. They need someone like me who’s
been to “hell and back” (so to speak) to let them know that “sin” is not
“in”. It’s dangerous!
tell them in the written messages that God truly loves each one, that He has a
plan and purpose for their lives. That
there is hope in Him. This is the gist
January 12, 2001
A few days ago I
received a letter from a
friend in Connecticut who shared how their church services have been going so
well. They were so happy, and I was glad to hear this.
Here is a portion of the letter I wrote back to them this
“I’m glad to hear how well your church services are going and that many
people have been drawn to the warm and loving fellowship. It is encouraging to
get “good reports” about
churches and what God is doing in them.
“I’m tired of hearing about all the negative stuff, the scandals, the
splits, the “moral failures”. I know
these tragic things do happen. But God
is greater and bigger than all of this.
We are always in victory when we are walking with
January 13, 2001
Several days ago
I received word from a
friend that a minister from Florida viewed THE CHOICE IS YOURS video and will be
taking one or two copies with him when he goes to Taiwan, which is now part of
Well here again is another answered prayer. The youth in China who live
in the big cities
almost all speak English as their second language. So taking the videos to evangelize
definitely work. Praise the Lord! God
And a few weeks prior to this there was yet another small victory. My
brother, Jess Craft, gave a missionary
couple a copy of the SON OF HOPE video to take back with them to the Solomon
Islands when they return. They want to
The Solomon Islands are in the Pacific Ocean. According to the prayer
WORLD, many of the churches on the islands are strong and healthy. English is
the official language, and there
have been a lot of successful evangelistic outreaches among the high school
students. This is encouraging
January 18, 2001
cannot even begin to tell the public how much misery and self-inflicted
suffering I have seen in prison over the years.
These prisons are places of so many broken dreams and lost hopes. In here
one can clearly see the high price
tag that each convict has to pay for committing crimes and, as we Christians
would say, committing “sins”. I’m surely
an expert in this area, now having spent almost half my life
Today I was once again in the infirmary where I took my wheelchair escort
to pick of his daily medications. While
I was waiting on line another inmate who I knew casually, having taken a
behavior modification-type class with him several months back---the class was
required---came up to me to ask for my prayers.
His name was Jim*.
Jim shook my hand and started to cry.
He did not look healthy at all. I
thought he was going to tell me that he had gotten bad news from home. Little
did I know until he started telling me
his problem, that he had gotten bad news from a doctor a few weeks
The doctor told Jim he had six months to live. I was stunned. He seemed fine when we attended that
class. But a lot can happen in two or
three months. Now the happy-go-lucky
guy who loved to tell jokes while we were sitting in that classroom, was told
that he has hepatitis. His liver decided
to stop working. Jim’s body was now
being poisoned by toxins. He was
I’ve never seen Jim in church before.
When I would see him in the hallways, he was often carrying around athe
latest lusty novel. Like many prisoners,
Jim loves to read. But now he was asking
for a Bible. Funny how “bad news” can
serve as a wake-up call. The game is
over and it’s time to get serious about life.
But poor Jim is in his fifties!
My heart went out to him. We were
only able to speak for a few minutes because he had already picked up his
medicine. The rules are that, once you
get what you have to at the medication window, you do an about face and walk out
the door. But he did manage to linger
promised Jim that I would pray for him, and I urged him to go to the chapel when
he had the chance so that all the congregation could pray in his
Jim lives in a different cellblock than I do. Not only have I put him
on my ever-growing
prayer list, but I will try to send over some Christian literature like the
Guidepost or the Billy Graham Decision magazines, which we have in the chapel in
“Please, Jesus, touch this man’s life.
Grant him a desire for repentance and the faith to believe the
gospel. Help him, dear
*Jim is not his real name
January 19, 2001
Sin, sickness, pneumonia, hepatitis, tuberculosis, cirrhosis of the
liver, AIDS…the very common ailments of many prisoners. The Angel of Death
never lacks for clients in
But God is ever merciful to hold out His hands to offer forgiveness. I
am thankful that there is Light in the
darkness. Jesus says He is the “Light of
I am the light of the world. He
that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of
life. John 8:12
January 20, 2001
“For the wages of sin is
Today I happened to see an inmate who was with me when I was living at
Clinton Correctional Facility in the tiny town of Dannemora, New York, near the
Canadian border. I left Clinton almost
fourteen years ago.
did not know this fellow very much back then.
He is just a familiar face. But I
recall that for awhile we had lived on the same tier. When I saw him, he was
hard to recognize at
Fourteen years later I was seeing a walking skeleton. Although he’s
about 6”1’ tall, he could not
have weighed more than one hundred pounds.
Rail thin, he looked like a concentration camp
And while he was walking normally and was obviously managing okay, I know
that he is one bad cold or flu attack away from death. He’s the type I’ve
seen so often over the
years. A bad cold quickly becomes
pneumonia. Having trouble breathing,
they go to the infirmary. Because they
are HIV positive they are quickly admitted, and they’re never seen alive
again. Once pneumonia hits, it’s the
final knock out punch. There is nothing
left in their bodies to resist.
When many of the HIV’ers first start getting their array of sicknesses,
most bounce back again and again because of the treatments. But each time they
go into the hospital, they
lose some weight. I almost never see the
weight come back. And with each bout of
sickness, they get thinner and thinner, like the prisoner who passed me in the
He’s too thin now. I know it’s
almost over for him. He’s got one trip
left. When I see him again (if I do) I
want to tell him my testimony and what Jesus Christ did for
This dying man needs to know that God has something wonderful to give
him—the gift of eternal life. It’s free,
and it will last forever.
“…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our
January 23, 2001
This morning at about
11 o’clock I took my
wheelchair escort down to the infirmary to see the doctor while in the waiting
area I again ran into
Jim, the man who told me last week that the doctor gave him six months to
live. Today he told me that he was down
to five. Personally, it looks as if he’s
down to two months.
thank God for the several minutes I got to speak with him. He looked awful. When I saw Jim last week, he wasn’t
anywhere’s near as bad. Now his face had
sunken in noticeably. His ankles were
very swollen and his stomach was protruding far beyond his waist, as if he were
trying to hide a basketball under his sweatshirt.
Before the hepatitis began to destroy his liver, Jim was on the slim
side, although by no means thin. Now he
looked sickly and pregnant, with a bleak yellow coloring to his skin. He was
also groaning in
Naturally our conversation centered around the health of his soul and of
receiving Christ as his Savior. Jim told
me that the Catholic priest had already given him his last rites. “What’s
the rush?”, I
I told Jim that Jesus Christ
loves him and died for his sins. He
insisted that he knew all this having been raised in catholic schools. I was
gentle and never pushy. But I did encourage him to pray to God and to
ask Jesus to help him.
I assured Jim
that in this afternoon’s prayer meeting is the chapel, the
brothers will be lifting him up in our prayers.
He seemed to appreciate this.
However I can see a big stronghold with his inability to repent and fully
trust in Jesus. He needs to be born
again, and a lot more praying on my part
needs to be done.
January 24, 2001
just got back from this morning’s prayer meeting, which was very spiritually
fruitful. I have been strengthened and
encouraged in my mind and in my soul to continue to press on by God’s power
Every Tuesday afternoon from 1 to 3:35, and every Wednesday morning from
8:45 to 10:25, we have prayer meetings
in the chapel with a handful of Christians who do not have specific work or
program assignments at these times. Our
chaplain supervises each meeting.
can make it most Tuesdays after I drop off my escort at his classroom. And on
Wednesday mornings when I do not have
to take my escort any place such as the hospital, I have free time to go the
prayer meetings, although I am still “on call” for him.
It would probably blow peoples’ minds if they could see a crew of
convicted felons gathering with a prison chaplain to fervently pray for
everything you could possibly think of.
We pray for our church and for churches everywhere. We pray for other
inmates and their families,
the guards and their families. We pray
for America and for our nation’s leaders.
We also ask for mercy for other nations, for those who are living on
Native American reservations, and for kinds who are in every form of sin and
bondage one could think of, from drugs and poverty to loneliness and suicidal
thank God that those whom society casts off as useless garbage and refuse, the
Lord is fully able and willing to take, clean up and use for His
January 30, 2001
For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear
not; I will help thee.
Where would I be without the Lord’s help? What would my life have
come to if Jesus
Christ had not intervened? I am quite
certain I would be dead, a case of suicide.
Surely if I were alive at this time without God in my life, I would be a
bitter and sour man, angry at the world, hating others, hating
So often I realize how helpless I am without the Lord. I am really like
a little child tagging
alongside his father. Yes, God is
holding my hand. Forget being a macho
man. Without God I am nothing. In
my own strength I could never have
survived all these years in prison.
Moreover, although I know that the Lord has healed my mind and filled my
life with peace, the fact is, I am still in recovery. There are still terrible
beneath the surface. Maybe it is best that for the most part they stay
buried. But from time to time, the bad
memories do resurface.
am still learning to forgive myself. I
have completely and fully renounced my affiliations with Satan. This is not as
easy as it sounds because the devil, who
is a spirit being, is still active in this world and he tries to attack
again and again. Every Christian
recognizes and knows this truth. He must daily be resisted as we draw near to
God. The closer we Christians are to the
Lord, the further we are from the devil.