…It all started a long time ago on a very different note. I was raised in a good home with a loving mother and father. I excelled in sports and I fit in with my peers real good socially. Things were different back then. But I also had some dark secrets as a child.
For years I had been sexually molested at a pre-school daycare, and I didn’t know a lot about that then, but I knew it was wrong. And there was a sense of guilt and shame that I felt that I couldn’t really process in my mind. At least back then.
Anyways, I got older. The feelings turned into anger. And I acted out with violence and rage.By high school I was smoking weed, drinking, and doing strong armed robberies and selling LSD. My freshman year I was kicked out the school district for a physical fight with a teacher in class. From there it was boarding school where I swallowed enough pills to OD in an attempt to get high. After they rushed me to the hospital, pumped my stomach, and put me on heart monitors I was expelled and sent home. My parents put me in a locked up rehab center, but I refused to do the program. I would again have fits of rage, attack adults, and they would lock me in my first cell out of many to come. And when that didn’t work they would strap leather straps around my body, my arms and my legs, and leave me fastened to a stretcher-like bed until my energy was used up and gone.Finally it was determined that rehab wasn’t going to work and I was released. It wasn’t long before my life really began to change.I met some older guys who were pimps and they had a stable of girls they used prostitutes, and I thought, This is it. This is what I’m going to do with my life. So I did. Under their teaching and guidance I dropped out of school for good and learned how to walk, talk, and act like a pimp.
I left home and took the young girls I had talked into this lifestyle with me. I moved to California and put them on the street to work. It was at this time that I began a decade long relationship with the Reno area brothels and began to send girls on trips, one state over, for weeks at a time.Then, one day I was visiting Oregon back home, drunk as usual, when one of my girls had a date with a customer who didn’t pay. When I found out about this, I grabbed a rusty old hatchet and went to the man’s house.When he wasn’t there I went to his friend’s house and began to chop and strike the man with the axe. Soon the cops arrived and I was arrested. So for the next year and a half or so I would continue to fight and act out aggressively, but I would do it from Maclaren, the state of Oregon’s maximum security lockup for boys.
We called the lifestyle I was in the game. And there’s a saying, be true to the game, and the game will be true to you. Knowing what I know now, a better way to say that would be, Be true to the devil and he’ll fool you with all kinds of fancy, worldly things and confuse into thinking you’ve been rewarded for doing evil. Truthfully, of course, he’s killing you. And that’s exactly what was happening in my life.I returned home from MacClaren. Two of my close friends were dead. One murdered. One suicide. And those who were still there and not locked up themselves, were hustling real hard. So I hit the streets to hustle again.I sold methamphetamine and I spent most of my waking hours drunk. With this cam more violence and arrests. Drunk driving. Possession of a machine gun. And finally I was arrested for a knife fight with a night club bouncer and I was headed for the state prison.After serving my time in the penitentiary, I was paroled back home from Pendleton and I jumped head first back into a life of promoting prostitution…
I started making a lot of money. I bought cars, Rolex watches, anything I wanted I bought. And at that point I thought, well, the devil isn’t so bad. The more evil I did the more money would come pouring in.After a scuffle with some Hell’s Angels bikers one night, a friend and I jumped into his new sports car and headed to Reno towards the mustang ranch to meet with some of our girls and pick up some money. We were going over 110 miles per hour when I glanced over at the speedometer at about the same time we began to spin out of control.When we hit the guard rail we flipped in the air a few times and landed upside down quite a ways from the freeway. I was knocked unconscious and came to in the ambulance. They used the jaws of life to rip the car in two. Then they rushed us to the hospital to pull metal and glass from our heads and stitch us back up.But I still lived with a death wish and had no intention of living past my twenties.
So I went right back to the streets. I wasn’t getting the hard lessons. I continued to exploit women in the sex industry, drink, and go in and out of various county jails for assaults. One night I was in a fight that left me bleeding to death with the left half of my face ripped off. I could see in the mirror that my teeth were showing through a large hole in my cheek as I bled.The surgeons worked all night to put my face back together with over 180 stitches. My arm was also broken in two places during that particular fight. Weeks later I was in a bar when I saw an old friend of mine who had told on another friend of mine, sending him to prison for a drive-by murder that he had witnessed.Because I considered him a snitch, I attacked him and was again fighting in the bar, this time with a cast on one arm and a face full of stitches. During this period of time, another friend of mine was murdered over a pound of weed. Two other friends of mine also committed murder themselves.One night I was with a friend of mine, Travis, standing in front of a bar. I gave him a quick hug and told him, Meet us at the strip club down the road. Instead, he went the other way and ended up shooting two men in their head. He is now on death row awaiting execution for two counts of aggravated murder.The more messy my life got, the harder my heart became as well.I visited my parents here in Bend one day. And, as usual with them, we ended sitting in church at Westside. I really hated that. Church made my blood pressure go through the roof. Pastor Ken’s messages would irritate me to no end. I was just so angry. But I was also tired and burnt out.After service, a friend of my father’s told my parents to go on ahead without me and I was going to stay there at church with him. I didn’t even barely know this man. And I thought he must be crazy. My dad looked worried knowing that it was highly probable this could end confrontational and ugly. By this time in my life, it was clear that nobody told me what to do.But for some reason I said it was okay and I stayed with Tom. As we talked there in front of the empty church I told him that I had started a record company and was using my money to put out music CDs.He was bold and showed no fear talking with me. That was something I could smell that from a mile away. And I respected that. He explained to me that my ship was sinking, like the Titanic. So I could rearrange my life like I was rearranging deck chairs on a doomed ship, but no matter what, the boat was sinking. And I was going down.Well, later in his car, that little fearless man led me to Christ. The next day he drove me to Sisters and we parked in a field. He said,
“You see those mountains,” pointing to the snow covered Cascades. “That’s how God views your life now. You’ve been washed as clean as that snow, in His eyes.”
Now, unlike what Hollywood tells us, most changes don’t just happen all at once. I left there with new energy, but I also left there back into my old world that was still waiting for me. I’d like to tell you I was strong and gave everything up at once, but I didn’t. It just wasn’t that easy. And I liked easy. I backslid and still attempted to rearrange the deck chairs of my life. I tried to leave the world of prostitution, only to go back into a life of selling drugs. I figured it wasn’t really hurting anybody that way. It was the lesser of two evils in my mind.I was still drinking myself to death, and each afternoon I’d wake up, stumble to the bathroom, throw up until I was dry heaving, then stumble back to bed, and lay in my sweat shaking for another few hours. I thought of God, and I thought of the Titanic. But I pushed those thoughts to the back of my head.I used most of my energy trying to reconstruct the night before, and I always wondered what had taken place. But one morning after throwing up and stumbling back to bed, I gave up. I was so angry and I prayed to God. Laying face down in my pillow I yelled at Him. I said,
“God, I give up. I can’t quit drinking. And I know it’s killing me, but I can’t do anything about it. I’m gonna die from this and the joke’s gonna be on You, cause I’ll have done nothing with my life. I’m not even going to attempt to make a go at it. I can’t meet You halfway. I can’t give it my best. I can’t do anything. I give up.”
And flippantly I said,
“If You wanted me to be sober, You do it Yourself. I quit trying. There’s gonna be no help from me.”
I imagine God laughed at that thinking, You silly fool. There was never anything you could do without Me. And at that moment I fell into a deep sleep.I woke sober. No hangover. No dry mouth. Nothing. He picked up my alcoholism and He lifted it off my shoulders single-handedly. To everyone’s shock and awe around me, I didn’t touch a drop of alcohol again. I was sober for real.I still sold dope. I bought a BMW. Saved a lot more money. And got into a lot less fights. Life seemed really good. For awhile. But, friends of mine kept dying. Murders. Suicides. The same story.I still carried my pistol with me, and constantly looked over my shoulder. After two years of being sober, was still caught up in the game. I was living by myself on a big farm in the middle of northern California’s marijuana growing country. I was alone by myself in a trailer with an AK-47 and all the weed I could smoke. I’d sit there looking at the trees and I began to look at my life for what it was. In the peace of the forest and the wilderness, God began to speak to me. It was clear as a bell. He said,
“Todd, I’ve protected you against all odds, and it’s time you leave the game and everything you have in life and follow Me.”
Now, that’s not what I wanted to hear from God.I was close to making a lot of money that year from a lot of different hustles I had going. The urban music industry’s biggest magazine was publishing a story about me that very month. It would be world-wide exposure to the fact that I was known Caucasian pimp in a predominantly black urban music industry, who had just released a big album. This wasn’t the time to be changing.
“God, I don’t wanna change. Come on, You know me. My heart’s hard and I’m happy with that. I got a real stomach for this violence and drama and pain. You know this!”
And God said,
“Todd, I’ve carried your alcoholism on My shoulders for two years without any help from you. You don’t think I can soften your heart?”
Well, He had me. It was just like playing poker and He had a full house. So I saw it was logic I couldn’t argue with, and I told Him,
“Okay. I leave all the cars, clothes, everything. But after this season. I got obligations”
A month later I was there on my hands and knees. Not to pray. But to be arrested for ex-con in possession of a fire-arm and the suspicion of murdering my neighbor.After God had spoken to me in the wilderness I felt calm. Even as the homicide detectives went rounds with me playing good cop, bad cop. I had a sense of peace. In the holding cell I prayed to Jesus. “God, if this is your will for me, so be it. I just ask that You’ll be with and protect me.” I didn’t kill that man, but as You know, I’m guilty of other things just as bad.See, I had conspired and had a head full of information on other murders that were unsolved. So I thought, well, I think I might be reaping what I sow. But I wasn’t angry and I accepted my fate as being in God’s hands now, wherever that may leave me.For the second time in my life, the first time being my alcoholism, I surrendered it all to God. And within an hour I had made a $50,000 bail bond and was standing outside of the jail, looking back at in bewilderment. All the money I had procrastinated on God for, it went to the best criminal defense lawyer available, and I beat the entire case.Then God spoke again. He said, “Alright, now follow me Todd. I’m going to change you and you will never go back to prison again. You will be free.” So I left California and I came back home. I humbled myself and I went to stay with my parents at the age of 31.They greeted me with open arms and poured God’s love in my life. The man who had led me to Christ asked me to come to his men’s group. I went, though the enemy was putting up a tug of war for my soul. I had been plagued with the worst, unspeakable, nightmare terrors I had ever had. I would murder members of my family and friends each night as soon as I fell asleep. And it was so graphically real that I would awaken with my heart beating out of my chest, mortified that I had really killed my family while I was sleeping. It was only when I heard their footsteps and voices through the walls that I would breathe a sigh of relief and know they were still alive.In groups surrounded by men who I think couldn’t possibly have anything in common with me, I shared my story including the fact that the devil was terrorizing me to a point of near insanity. I wasn’t sure being a Christian was going to be the right call for me. But these men, who fancy themselves as a fighting band of brothers, came to my parents house led by Tom, and waged battle in the unseen world. They laid hands on me. They prayed. They read Scripture. They anointed me and the room with oil. And they had me renounce any and all strongholds that Satan had in my life, all the way down to the tattoos symbolic of murder and death that cover my body.
Well, it worked. The dreams were gone. Satan was gone from my sleep. It was a healing, and it was a miracle.That was a over 5 years ago. And since then God has continued to work in my life. He’s performed countless other miracles, true to His words in the wilderness. He softened my heart and He restored my relationship with my family. And through His grace, He’s shown me that I can forgive myself too, just as He already has.Today I follow what our group calls the three-legged stool. Three legs that must be used at the same time in order to create perfect balance. One: prayer. Number two: reading His word. And three is fellowshipping with other believers.Now in AA they say, keep coming back, it works. Unfortunately, I don’t know if statistics back them up on that. But I can tell you this: Jesus works. That’s a fact. I share this with my friends still in prison. And tell them about hope and about how Jesus is all that matters. Even my friend, Travis, on death row, now says,
“If God can change Todd, He can change anybody.”
See, I don’t even deserve credit for a supporting role in God’s story. I didn’t do anything but cause pain and make a big mess. This is all about Jesus.Believe you me, when I run the show, things get real ugly. Only, and I repeat, only is it through the blood and grace of Jesus Christ that I am here today.