This is a story as told by ex-con Ron Cummings.
“My Dad once told me, ‘Ronnie, I think some people are just born bad.’ I’m pretty positive he was talking about me. From a very young age I just seemed to gravitate toward the darker things in life, and I couldn’t stay out of trouble. In my teenage years I began to run with the wrong crowd and do terrible things. When you do those types of things it’s not long before you get arrested, and that’s what happened to me. Everything culminated in the 1970s in the state district court in Dallas, Texas. I stood before a judge who had my file, which was very thick, and he said, ‘Boy, you’re never going to learn’. He sent me to the Texas prison system with sentences totaling over one hundred years.
“From the moment the judge told me that I had to serve over a hundred years in prison, my plan was to escape. You can imagine how surprised I was when the prison bus pulled up to the facility in Huntsville, Texas, and I saw the big walls, the big guard towers, and the big guns. I realized this was not going to be an easy place to get out of.
“When I found I couldn’t escape physically, I chose to escape mentally-–through drugs. But the problem was that drugs weren’t always available, and then reality would always come rushing back in, along with the pain, the heartache and the anger.
“In 1988, I did escape. I broke out one night, and I took three pistols from the sheriff’s office on the way out. My great plan was that when they caught me--and I knew they would--we would just hold court right in the middle of the street, because I had done all the time I was going to do. But God had other plans. I was surrounded and placed in leg irons and waist chains and taken back before that same judge, who was not happy. He took one look at me and said, ‘Boy, you’re never going to see daylight again.’ He sentenced me to an additional twenty-five years.
“Late at night I began to suffer some of the most horrible nightmares you could imagine. In the one I dreamed repeatedly I was buried alive in a casket. I couldn’t see and I couldn’t breathe. I would kick at the bottom, but I couldn’t kick it out. I would claw at the lining of this casket and panic would set in. I began to realize that I had to have some help–-at least something to help me sleep.
“The doctor sent me to a psychiatrist, who determined that I was depressed. He prescribed antidepressants and sent me back to my cell block. It wasn’t long before I was on anti-psychotics, and I began hearing voices that would tell me that people were out to kill me and I should kill them first. I became very aggressive.
“They took me back down to the psychiatrist and this time I was put into a straight jacket and sent to Ellis 3 Psychiatric Unit where I was stripped down and shoved into a padded cell. Each time they came to get me I would have to turn around and back up to the hole in the door so they could handcuff me. Only then would they open the main door to tranquilize and medicate me.
“As you can imagine, there’s not a lot to do in a little cell like that, and I quickly became bored. On one occasion when the guard came in for medication, I asked him, ‘Could I just please get something to read?’ He said, ‘Boy, you’re not going to get anything to read. They’re afraid that you might make a weapon with it to harm one of us or yourself.’ I got so angry that I went into an absolute fit and then just passed out on the floor. When I finally awoke, I could see that someone had left a little brown book on the ledge in the door.
“The minute I saw it, I knew what it was. Believe me that book was the last thing I wanted. I didn’t think it held any hope for me. I thought I had gone too far and done too much bad stuff. But I retrieved it and opened it. The words jumped out at me: ‘God loves you.’ Do you know how long it had been since I had heard anyone say they loved me? I didn’t think anybody could love me. I knew I had burned all my bridges. But, yet I read, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
“I dropped to my knees in that padded cell. Tears began to run down my face. I said, ‘God, I’ve made such a mess out of my life. God, I’ve hurt so many people and done so many bad things. I don’t want to live one more moment the way I’ve lived the past eighteen years. Jesus, please save me!’ Immediately, I felt myself surrounded by one of the brightest lights I’d ever seen. The Spirit of God began to move upon me and God just loved on me.
“Eventually I heard the keys rattle outside the cell, and I knew they had come to give me my sedatives and medication. When they had cuffed me and come into the cell, I told the guard, ‘Something happened and I don’t think I need this anymore.’ He said, ‘What’s going on? What’s happened?’ I just held up the Bible and said, ‘I’ve been talking to God.’ He didn’t believe me and gave me the medication anyway. But in about a week I was able to convince him to just watch me to see if I had truly changed.
“They watched me get better day by day. Within about three weeks they transferred me back to my regular jail cell. When I got off the medication, I asked the guard if I could see the chaplain. I told Chaplain Vance Drummond what had happened to me in that cell, and he said, ‘Ronnie, when you cried out to Jesus, He came into your heart. You’ve been born again, brother; you’re a new creation in Christ Jesus.’
“I asked him to please tell me how to keep it, because I had a peace and joy I’d never known before, and I didn’t want to lose it. He told me that I should come back every day to his office and to study God’s Word with that little Testament and that I should spend time with other believers, and that’s just what I did.
“I joined a Bible study and prayer group. When we prayed together, it seemed like the cloud of the Lord would come down upon us. Some of the most glorious times I’ve ever had in my Christian life took place at the prison in Eastham.
“Three and a half years later, I made parole. I hadn’t even been up for parole, so that was an awesome gift from God. In 1991 I was let out of the walls in Huntsville, Texas, a free man. In 1992 God restored my marriage and my relationship with my four children.
“Can the Word of God transform a person’s life? Yes! Today I am a Gideon and I am able to go to the jails and prisons with the Word of God and put it into the hands of prisoners."