Jimmy Maxwell’s Testimony &
Foreword to his books
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
God, where do I start? Talk about amazing grace! I was so blind – but now I see. My name is Jimmy Maxwell and I am a believer in the divine love of our Father in heaven, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost that lives in me, and all the redeeming grace that goes with that.
Three months ago you didn’t want to have a conversation about Poppa God with me, not if you were a believer anyway. I believed that the Bible wasn’t anything more than a history book, that Jesus wasn’t anything more than a really good dude; and that the creator, if there was one, was way too busy running the universe to be concerning himself with the individual insignificant lives of us humans (mine specifically). Of course at the time I’d never felt the Holy Spirit move in me either. Man, the Lord has brought me a long way fast.
I’m not going to give you my whole life story in this little testimonial. A lot of you will know me or know someone that does, especially if you are in an Oklahoma prison. Besides I’m not really big on war stories, so let’s just say I have put in my share of work in over the 25+ years that I have already given to the penal system, and I have fought my way to the top of the food chain and our state’s Aryan Brotherhood. I’m really not anything special though; I’ve just been living this life a long time. I believed in strength, truth, honor and my word; and that carries a lot of weight no matter what side of the tracks you live on. However, on our own, it’s easy to look up one day and see that you’re not all that you believed or expected yourself to be. That, my brothers, sisters and friends, is the first step to finding yourself at the foot of the cross.
My wife and I started out with so much hope. I was finally out of prison after 16 years! We had dreams of love, home and happiness, even owning our own business. My wife (not me) had dreams of us going to church and being godly, productive members of the faith. I took her to church occasionally to fulfill my promise that I would, but gangster, outlaw Jimmy Maxwell had a lot to catch up on and wasn’t going to be tied down with all that mumbo-jumbo.
Lord, forgive me. I thought that my loving devoted wife was just trying to control me.
Anyway I stayed off dope, worked every day, paid my bills, furnished our house, and bought us a couple of cars. I even saved up and got myself a little Harley Road King. It wasn’t long till I had 20 to 30 “brothers” meeting every month having the ol’ brotherhood barbeque. You couldn’t tell me anything; I knew it all and felt entitled. –Wasn’t I?
Well let me tell you, with a King of the World attitude, it won’t be long before people like us run our lives right into the ground. The Bible says (and my wife told me repeatedly) that “pride goeth before a fall.”
I’m sure that you can already see where this is going. A year and a half into my freedom, I was lying and cheating on my loyal, loving wife and best friend, who, by the way, married me while I was in prison and waited the last ten years of my sentence for me to come home. I know, what a loser, huh? And, I can’t even give justice to the torment that I put her through in this letter. I was drinking, fighting and eventually even doing drugs again.
It’s like a train wreck, once one car leaves the rail, the rest will follow. I saw it coming, but I couldn’t look or turn away. I couldn’t understand why I was doing what I was doing. My wife tried everything to get my attention. She prayed, she yelled, she cried, she tried leaving me. Eventually she came into my world and started doing drugs with me and whatever else I wanted. I didn’t know it then, but there was a demon sent out to kill, steal and destroy our lives. There is a demon sent out to steal and destroy each and every one of our lives.
Anyway, I could write a book (and may) on the pitfalls we face getting out of prison and not having our foundation firmly planted in the Word. If you don’t think that I’m an authority on it, then let me just quickly give you a run down:
Physically and emotionally abused by my stepdad from 3 to 13, and kicked out at 13 because I was quickly toughening up. Any older, and it wouldn’t be me that was abused. At 15 I was in the Helena Boys Home, and two or three escapes later I aged out at 18. Fighting with the cops caused me to spend most of my 18th year in the county jail. At 19 I went to prison for two and a half years for shooting my neighbors house up. I was 21 and only out for a couple of months when I got in a knife fight in a bar. He lost the fight, and I lost four and a half more years. Then at 26, I got two years for possession of C/D/S and bond jumping. At 29, I spent 16 years for possession of C/D/S with intent and possession of a firearm in commission of a drug crime.
Now here I am, 47 and facing two federal counts of the Armed Career Criminal statute for a felon in possession of a firearm – 15 to life for each – minimum. In addition, I’m sure a few other scattered felonies throughout the state will start at no lower than 20 years to life themselves.
Have I ever asked God to help me throughout all that? Sure, probably several times when I was young. But knowing that I never really meant it, or who or what I was calling on, I soon stopped asking. I remember trying really hard once when I was in prison, but not anything pressing, just searching for, something. Of course, unbeknownst to me at the time, Satan throws everything he has at a new Christian, especially those the Lord has plans for, in hopes of turning them from the path that God predestined for us. Like countless other weak-kneed Christians I turned back to my old ways. Had I remained with the Lord when first called, I wouldn’t be facing this now. “Free will” is a loving gift the Father gave us, but it would sure be easier if he hadn’t. It has got to be frustrating for him, yet he never leaves us. He just uses a bigger stick.
What I really want to tell my brothers and sisters, friends, enemies, and you who are reading this is what’s happened to me now – of a transformation.
First, you need to know that I never expected to be taken alive; I knew I was looking at life. I had a federal task force sparing no expense looking for me, along with various other state law enforcement agencies. They had put a reward out on me and pasted my face all over the news. They believed me to be heavily armed and not one to go down without a fight. Having had several close calls with me, they had made it clear that they intended to shoot first and take no chances. To be honest, my wife and I had already made a suicide pact and I had no intention of going to jail.
However, sometimes you get caught when you are in no position to draw fire, like when you are in a car full of innocent people.
So after a brief foot chase, I fought it out with members from half the law enforcement agencies in the state (which by the way cost me another five years). To say that I was mad and depressed to find myself sitting in jail alive and well would be an understatement. I was not wanting to be caged anymore. Anyway, after knocking a guy off the phone in “booking” and refusing to house with another race, I found myself single-celled and segregated in Tulsa County Jail, aka David L. Moss. Alone, tired and angry at the world, I was coming off dope and worried about my wife and all the things I had done to her and our lives. I wanted to die.
I think that I started talking to God mainly because I knew that there was nothing left of me, that hope for our lives was gone; and that I couldn’t trust myself with my own life, let alone my wife’s. I was not honorable. I didn’t have anything to be proud of. I was nothing, just a hollow empty shell. I tried willing my heart to stop beating, or my brain to explode; anything not to have to take another incarcerated breath, or worse, face the demons that were haunting me as they danced and taunted me with the destruction of our lives and the pain and humiliation that I’d put my sweet little wife through.
The despair and guilt was crushing my soul. It crushed me right into the cold concrete floor of my cell until it was so unbearable, that I found myself crying out to God. Begging him, as unworthy as I was, to save me, to save my wife, to give me strength, to help me, to just take over my life, or to just kill me. I started crying (yeah, crying, and looking back, that was one of my proudest moments), and I started repenting. The more I repented, the more I realized how much I had to repent for. The tears came and they wouldn’t stop; I had caused a lot of pain. Why is it that we always hurt the ones we love the most? Right at the top of the list was God, my wife, my parents, my brothers, and my kids. I even repented for what I put our dogs and my wife’s cat through. I discovered I was a very selfish man.
The thing about true repentance (and you’ll never understand it until you experience it yourself) is that you feel the pain you’ve caused; every tear a painful cleansing. And believe me; I could have washed the floor with my tears. It changed me and it restored something in me. Baring my soul and opening my heart to Jesus, accepting and believing he died for me, and repenting of my sins (and meaning it) was like opening a door that I wasn’t even aware of that led me right to the throne.
I’m not going to say that all of a sudden all my and my wife’s problems were solved – not even. I spent the next week planning on hanging myself from the vent. The only real difference was that I was talking to God and reading the Word; but I was still unwilling to be caged for the rest of my life. Plus I felt guilty; keeping my wife tied to me after all my selfishness. As loyal as she is, I figured that it was the most unselfish thing I could do. She deserved better.
That is when I first heard God’s voice. I had spent an hour and a half stringing little strips of sheet through the holes in the vent till I’d built up enough to hold me. Asking God the whole time to tell me if there was some kind of purpose to stay on this planet; thinking if not, there was no other reason to suffer through the anguish that I was feeling. I was listening real hard, and I was reading pamphlets and different literature trying to find out what God’s voice was supposed to sound like. There were a lot of voices telling me all kinds of stuff.
It was getting closer to the time I’d determined to “jump” on Monday after I was sure that the mail had gone out. (I had to try to explain to my son that I wasn’t a coward, just an old lion that couldn’t live in a cage anymore. I conned myself pretty good, didn’t I?) Anyway I spent so much time listening for a big booming voice to tell me, “Son, don’t do it. I have great things for you and Jeanne to do;” that I almost missed that small still voice in the back of my head. The voice that each time I would say, “God, please tell me something,” would ask plainly and simply if I really thought that killing myself was His idea? I probably ignored him five or six times before I realized what I was hearing. So as I was getting geared up to go ahead and just do it, I cried out and asked God, if that was him, to give me a sign, anything, something.
I was standing facing away from the bean hole with my hand on the wall, questioning what I’d heard, when my bean hole popped open and Don White, a minister friend of mine, stuck his smiling face in it and said, “Hey, what’cha doing, big brother?” Of course, I didn’t say, “Oh, just fixing to hang myself.” But I did break down just seeing him, and cried. We talked about the Lord, about my guilt and shame, and about forgiveness; how God has a future and a hope for us. (Jeremiah 29:11). I told him that I’d said the prayer and we prayed it again. I was thinking I wanted to be doubly covered when I reached the pearly gates, since I intended to see them shortly.
That was Sunday night, and I had decided not to even worry if the letters made it out of the jail or not. But Don’s visit was an obvious answer to a prayer. So, I put the “jump” back off until the next night (Monday), and I spent the rest of the evening and all the next day praying that God would show me some purpose of living; and he started showing me things (Jeremiah 33:3) like pictures of my wife and me preaching! I just knew I was tripping then, but I was steadily trying to study the pictures he was showing me to see if I was wearing a prison uniform or not, while preaching. God told me then that, “all things work toward the good for those that love the Lord (Romans 8:28). He also told me that he was going to deliver me from the mouth of the lion.
I was still thinking, “Yeah, it’ll be on the end of a sheet.” I couldn’t find anything in the Bible where it said suicide was an unforgivable sin. As a matter of fact, I read that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). I was even getting kind of excited about going to heaven. Even though God kept showing me pictures and visions of things I have yet to do for him, I conveniently ignored them because I didn’t really want to be talked out of “jumping”. But danged if Don didn’t pop back up at my bean hole again, and said he wanted to tell me how much Poppa God loved me and all the things he had for me to do for him. Talk about direct and immediate confirmation! Don also told me that he’d talked to Jeanne (my wife) and that the Feds were messing with her and that she needed me very badly.
I still hadn’t told Don what I was up to, but it was then I realized that I couldn’t carry through with my intentions. God was working overtime giving me signs and reasons not to. I must have stared at that vent all night – my way out. Thinking about what the Lord was telling me and feeling trapped by it, and the fact that I couldn’t abandon my wife in her hour of need.
Of course Tony Mac showed up at 8:00 a.m. the next morning because he had received the letters to my kids and mom that I had sent to him to give to them at the “appropriate” time. I think I may have even made a few suggestions on what to say at my funeral. If you know me, you know that sounds just like me.
As soon as I saw him I knew that I should have gone ahead and killed myself; because as soon as he got over being worried and sad, he was going to start clowning me. That’s just us though, anyway we talked and prayed. I told him about what happened to me in that cell and that I felt something that I’d never felt before. Something that those of you who have been there have already felt; and those of you who haven’t, I pray you someday will. It’s just simply, “the beginning” of something deep, something purposeful and powerful, “the beginning” of a transformation. Man, we cried, we prayed and we praised the Lord. Tony has been praying for me a long time.
Tony McMullen and I have been partners for 25 years, long before he was saved. We have been cell partners numerous times; we robbed drug dealers together and people paid us to collect their money and deal their dope, in and out of prison. When he found the Lord I was so proud and happy for him and Candy, his wife. But for the life of me I just could not get it. I stayed behind, and watched him while he preached to guys in prison and then start a ministry when he got out. He now goes into prisons and jails and speaks all over the country spreading the Good News. What a transformation!
Other friends of mine, like Don White, came from the edge of suicide and divorce, homeless, hungry and crazy as a loon. Now he is happy and preaching salvation to the damned with his wife, Sara – transformed!
My friend Dixie Pebworth (and I am proud to call him my friend now) gave his life to the Lord in the face of an 80 year sentence, and got the sentence. But by being faithful, he only did six and a half years on it, and now is the pastor of God’s Shining Light Church, and he has spear-headed several programs that have helped a countless number of the hopeless — Transformed as well.
My brothers and sisters, when God is for us, who can be against us? Me, I’m still here; you’ll have to wait for the update to see what God has done in my life. You can count on one thing though; He will do something, because transformed I am. At least I’m out of “the hole” now, so I’m around other guys. The Lord says to be “doers” of the word (James 1:22-25). So I’m “doing”, studying, sharing and writing this short version of my testimony. The Word says “they overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” (Revelations 12:11).
My wife and I have become a three-fold cord with God (Eccles. 4:9-12). It says two are better than one and a three-fold cord is hard to break. She showed me that. (She’s so smart). We “see” me out and we see us ministering, especially to married people. After all we’ve been through and still are going through, we believe that God will save us from the flames of the fiery furnace. But like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego said in Daniel 3:17; our God can deliver us, but even if He chooses not to, we will not bend down to the evil one. We will continue to love, serve and believe in the Lord.
I have never believed in anything more. Jesus’ followers did not die for a cause that wasn’t real. All his disciples had to do was denounce Him to save their own lives, but they didn’t. Jesus’ own half brothers didn’t believe in him until they saw him raised from the dead. Then they ended up writing two books of the Bible. They were a first hand transformation.
Although my strongest but most unexplainable reason for believing is that I can “feel” the Lord. When you let go and cross the barrier (or you are crushed through it,) and you are just hanging out in God’s presence, you get a taste of the Holy Spirit. It tingles me from my head to my feet. What really blows my mind is when that happens to me in a service or a Bible study. I look up as a couple of other people are saying, “Wow! Did you feel that?”
What can I say? He will show you evidence of things unseen, but you have to take that first step in faith. It is amazing and even though I have “bad days” and I have to continually renew my mind by feeding on the Word, seeking to think only on good, virtuous and praiseworthy things (Phil. 4:8); I can honestly tell you that I have never felt more complete or more filled with meaningful purpose. The Bible tells us that we were created and put on this earth for his pleasure. We are to love the Lord, and we will never truly be fulfilled until we do.
I am transformed by this trouble; and although I hate my circumstances and I feel the weight of the world hanging over me, “I will not be anxious. I give it to God and a peace beyond my understanding will guard my heart and mind.” (Phil. 4:6-7). I have never felt better.
Well, my brothers and sisters, saved or unsaved, free or imprisoned, white, black, brown, green or gray, I hope that this finds someone in need, and helps that someone to look up.
I love you and God loves you. Be transformed.
A true testament by Jimmy Maxwell