Former Gang Member Surrenders His Life to Jesus

Complimentary Story

   I grew up in poverty, surrounded by gangs, drugs, and a sea of crime.  I lived in the city that gave birth to the Bloods and Crips, whose numbers across the country were in the hundreds of thousands.  In Los Angeles County, there are over a thousand gangs. Most, if not all, neighborhoods in LA are run by gangs. So even if you are not a gang member, but live in a certain area, other gangs will target those areas because of where they live.  Not only was this a real problem for youth in my community, but another issue was that most of the youth in these poverty-stricken communities lived in single-parent homes. My mom and dad divorced when I was young child, leaving my mom to raise my sisters and me all by herself.
   With my father out of the picture, and in and out of prison, that made me wide open for recruitment by local gangs. With a lack of a father figure, I clung to the older guys in my community who offered me the male companionship -- a father’s love -- I was missing. Enhancing my chances of joining a gang was the appeal of the cars, girls, and jewelry that the gangbangers had. So my role models, and idols, were drug dealers and gang members. Even with the violence and crime I witnessed, it didn’t faze me or other kids in the community.  In fact, it became a norm, and so a part of life.
   I was officially jumped into the gang in my neighborhood at the age of twelve, right before the Rodney King beating. I was involved in destroying my own community during that riot because I thought the world hated me and all African Americans.  Upon joining the gang, I was involved in robberies, car thefts, and various other crimes.  Soon, I started taking on bigger crimes like shootouts, beatings, armed robberies, and gang wars. I found myself kicked out of five different junior-high schools for gang fights, and then locked up in the juvenile justice system in California.  From there, I gained more of a street status, which really made me worse.  When a close friend of mine, “Lee,” was murdered -- shot over thirty times -- I became even more numb to death and violence.  But at night when I laid my head down on the pillow, depression set in, I felt worthless, and didn’t know if I would even live that long, given all the things I was involved in.
   Soon I brought my first child into the world, and now that I was becoming an adult, getting a job would have been the smart thing to do. But with a criminal record, I would face a challenge that would throw me deeper into the dark life of crime. Jail and prison life would be my next several stops. Since childhood, I landed in about seventeen different jail facilities.  I couldn’t find employment due to my bad choices, and with deception by the great deceiver (Satan), I would drink a fifth of alcohol a day, smoke weed, and take pills, trying to drown out reality. Overtaken by depression, I started having thoughts of taking my own life.  One night, while out looking for someone to rob, so that I could pay the bills, I found that I was the only one on the streets.  It was strange that the streets were empty. It was as if God had already started my intervention.
   Going home that night, I fell asleep in the living room only to be woken by a loud knock on the door. Bang Bang Bang. ‘It’s probation and parole, open up!’ As I opened the door, with my kids watching, I was slammed into the wall of the apartment and arrested for not reporting to my parole officer.  Upon arrival to the local jail, my PO informed me that I also had a warrant for a burglary that I committed three years prior;  I had cut my finger on the door while breaking into a building. Now looking at ten years in prison, I had had it. The walls seemed to cave in all around on me. I no longer wanted to live. Several days later, still incarcerated, I wanted to see a doctor because of my mental state. Sitting on my cell bed, I said, “Help me, someone. If God is real, please come now,” but God didn’t show. The next day, over the loud speaker, a Bible study was called, and I could not, for some reason, stay sitting down; I had to go to this meeting.  Even if other inmates saw me go, I had to go. 
   When I entered the room, I saw two gray-haired guys, Pastor Kleg Seth and Evangelist Tim Berends, waiting for the inmates to come in for Bible study.  The oldest guy, Pastor Kleg, preached of the forgiveness of Christ in the conversion of the apostle Paul.  How Paul was involved in murder, and how he persecuted Christians greatly. Kleg showed, through Scripture in the testimony of Paul, the simple Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation.  God was doing heart surgery on my heart.  After Pastor Kleg finished his message, he gave an invitation to receive Jesus Christ has Lord and Savior. I was unable to resist. I had been a rebel toward God and engulfed in sin, yet I surrendered my life wholly to Jesus, the Savior of the world. Right away, I knew that I had been set free.  Words can’t do justice to what God did in my heart. I had been transformed. This was so shocking for me; the freedom from a deep bondage reigned within me. 
   I went back to my unit, unable to withhold what had happened to me. I started telling my enemies and everyone I encountered the reality that Jesus Christ is real.  God used me to lead a Bible study and prayer in my unit. I was used to lead many inmates to Jesus Christ. When my court date came, I was so in awe with God that I had forgotten about it.  While in court, I sang a song to myself. During sentencing, the DA recommended that the judge give me the maximum of ten years. I apologized to the DA, the judge, and all of Clark County.  God blessed me and gave me one year in county jail. Two weeks later, I was released on house arrest.
   Being an ex-felon, finding a job should have been a struggle, but this time, things were much different. I was a born-again believer with a mission, a mission to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone I encountered. The Lord gave me a deep hunger for His Word and prayer. The Lord led me to apply to a dental assistant program.  The Nevada Board of Dentistry told me it was up to the doctor as to whether or not he wanted to hire an ex-felon. 
   Doors God opens no man can shut.  On Thursday nights, I had been attending a weekly Bible study at Tim Berends’ church.  One of the couples attending, Dick and Sherill Johnson, noticed that I was now enrolled in school and asked about my studies. When I told them I was studying dental assisting, their faces lit up. They told me they owned a dental lab that made dentures. Soon, they introduced me to their long-time dentist friend, Dr. Joseph Wenzinger DDS. I was hired only a few weeks into school, still on house arrest. The Lord will provide!  The Lord took care of my needs in a way that the ‘world’ would never understand. God is always faithful. 
   I finished school and now lead an outreach at Trinity Life Center to at-risk youth and work alongside the Southern Nevada Community Gang Task Force and Chaplaincy, speaking and training school administration in gang and drug awareness. I also do street evangelism and pass out tracts with my children. 
   Now a father of five and married to my beautiful wife, Rache’t, I value life and family life. 
   In America, there are nearly 15,000 murders a year, we are the porn capital of the world, we have the most drug addicts in the world, the most alcoholics, over 100 million STDs, suicide is high, and we hold 25 percent of the world’s jail population.  In the past thirty years, 260 - 270 million African Americans have been murdered by other African Americans. My story of redemption and hope that is in Jesus Christ is the only hope for our nation and the world.
   I pray not only to get my book and story into every jail and prison in the United States and the United Kingdom, but I want to impact as many lives as I can for all eternity. Jesus commissioned us in Mark 16:15–16 to go into all the world and preach the Gospel.  Jesus lives.
(Editor’s Note: Tommie Scott is the son of one of the first Crip gang members in the United States -- Big Tommie from Watts Jordan Down Projects in Los Angeles, California.) 

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