Article in the Kingston Daily Freeman

Imagine this headline in a secular paper in New York: Tillson author parents with help from God. Well it's true! Read it on-line and support these kinds of articles with a comment.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

From Gang Leader to God Seeker

Here is an excerpt from one of the stories in Transformed. If you're interested in reading the rest of the story, e-mail me at

Everyone calls me Kay—though my last name means little, I never did things in a small way. I thought I was a big shot, until God got a hold of me. Here’s my story.

I grew up in Paterson, NJ in the 70’s. Gangs ran rampant in my neighborhood, and I revered them and what they represented. Though I went to church with my grandmother as a child, at the age of fourteen, I decided I wanted everything the world had to offer—money, power, and prestige. I joined a gang, started doing drugs, and then dealing them. I was brainwashed by the values of the world. By the age of seventeen I was brought under the wings of organized crime and made a killing.

I was flying high—doing whatever I wanted and living in one penthouse after another in New York City. By the time I reached the age of twenty-one, I was a millionaire, supplying New York and New Jersey with enough drugs to keep me rolling in dough. I was married and had two sons who were raised to idolize me and my hard-hitting way of life.

At twenty-five, it all came crashing down on me. I was busted and sentenced to a maximum-security prison for a very long time. I watched my kids grow up from behind bars, and they saw what my lifestyle brought me to—a dead end. I wanted them to learn from my mistakes. I had gone to college but dropped out because I didn’t see any reason to continue. I was making millions back then supplying drugs, but I also had skills as a carpenter and auto mechanic, my sideline career.

While in prison, I was known as a tough guy, a leader of a prominent gang who didn’t put up with anyone’s crap. People respected and feared me. I’d watch people die every day—fights, stabbings, being burned, you name it, I saw it. Prison has its own rules that most people will never know about. I thought I was tough and that’s why I survived, but really it was God protecting me.

At the age of thirty-nine I was released on parole and promised God I would serve Him. I went back to my family and started working, two jobs in fact. I wanted to stay clean, off drugs, and I did—for a while. But then I got overwhelmed. I started using heroin again to escape; it also gave me the energy I needed to work harder. I was running myself ragged. I needed more money to get more drugs, and I needed more drugs to keep me going. I’d promised my family I wouldn’t do drugs again, but I got caught in a vicious cycle.

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