“Crime Pays” when it causes you to get saved!
A TBN Oldie Goldie program from 1986 re-aired early Friday morning, 10/14/11. The guest was Gene Neill who gave a touching, tear-jerking testimony (above photo, the older guy). He got choked up when describing his salvation experience which had everybody else sniffling as well. Neill had been a hot shot, very successful, wealthy Florida attorney (Miami area), living the good life with the “martini crowd,” but full of void & emptiness. He considered himself an atheist. (He had gone to church as a kid but the liberal Sunday School teachers taught that the Bible was full of allegorical stories that were not true!)
At age 40, from his luxury Miami law office, & out of sheer boredom, he got involved in organized crime just for the rush/thrill of it all, bank robberies, corporate crime, etc. He loved planning the strategies but the other guys performed the actual crimes. He was “the mind behind the crimes.” This went on for three years before he was arrested & sent to prison for 50 years, 24 felonies! That was about 1971.
After he was first arrested, he determined he would just flee the area. His bailbondsman friend got him a low bond so Gene hauled off to Atlanta where he had a long time, fellow atheist friend who was also very successful & wealthy (owned car dealerships). They used to make fun of Christians calling them (us!) sissies, lol. When his friend met him at the airport, he hugged him hard, was crying, told Gene he was now a Christian, & wanted to pray for him! Gene said that blew him away because nobody had ever offered to pray for him before. When his friend prayed, Gene said he could tell his friend prayed like he actually believed someone was listening! (Of course! :)
So Gene went back to Florida & was sent to prison in Missouri. During the inmate checkin, they put him with an 80-year-old guy who had been in prison so long his prison number was 4 digits whereas Gene’s was 7 digits! Seeing this elderly prison lifer freaked him out. He spent the entire first day in his cell wondering if there really was a God. What if he had been wrong about God? So the first night he got on his knees in his cell & pleaded if God really existed to please help him. He said the Lord spoke without anger or condemnation & said, “Gene, I love you. I’ve been waiting for you for a long time!” Beautiful! Gene’s solitary confinement turned out to be a good time, he said, nobody but him, Jesus & the Bible in his cell. He read it 50 times!
The next miracle was he got transferred back to a Florida prison, closer to his family. When his wife visited she saw he had changed & vowed she was going to get saved as well & she did. Then at 2-years & 13-days the next miracle came: the prison officials came to his cell & told him, out of the blue, that he was being paroled & could leave! He had 3-cents to his name; he & his wife had no home, no money, no car, no job. From that point forward he developed a prison ministry, visiting 2,000 prisons around the world, 40 countries, to give a witness.
There were many more details, of course. TBN’s video archives have three programs with Neill as guest, two from 1986, so I’m not sure which one they showed on TV tonight:
Chapters 1 & 2 of Gene’s autobiographical book, “I’m Gonna Bury You!”:
I thought Neill must be getting old by now so I checked the SSA Death Index, & sure enough, he died last November 2010 at age 79. Sad:
|NEILL, WILLIAM EUGENE||25 Feb 1931||12 Nov 2010 (P)||79||32066 (Mayo, Lafayette, FL)|
Social Security Death Index Interactive Search:http://ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/ssdi.cgi?sn=Neill&lastate=FL&start=80
His “Go To Jail” website is still up but looks a little neglected (old-fashioned style). His wife may still be mailing out his book to any prisoners who request it (she is 11 years younger than him so she may be about 69 now):
“Prison Ministry Dr. Gene Neill, Worldwide Prison Ministries, including related Drug Rehab, Prison Reform and Crime Prevention Movements”:http://www.go-to-jail.org/bio.html
a division of THE VOICE OF TRIUMPH, INC.,
a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt corporation.
Song: El Shaddai