A Gang Leader’s Salvation
By Gorman Woodfin
The 700 Club
CBN.com -Troy Evans grew up in the inner city streets of Grand Rapids, Michigan. When he was 9 years old—he faced one of the darkest days of his life. “One of the neighbors was taking the kids and, you know, doing, playing horse, I guess, would put everybody on his shoulders and walk them around the corner or whatever. And then shortly after he would bring them back and it was my turn and got on his shoulders and next thing I know I ended up in an abandoned garage. And that’s where I was molested.”
That day changed his life forever. “I started to display my anger, my frustration, and my confusion about who I was.”
Troy battled his anger in the only way he knew… “Fighting, as a kid, I wasn’t your normal 10, 11-year-old.”
And as a teen he turned to alcohol to deaden the pain. Troy eventually found acceptance in a gang. “’You don’t need to change who you are. Don’t pull up your pants. Don’t take off your hat. Don’t do any of those things. Just come as you are.’ But it seemed like everywhere else I went, from school to church to everywhere else, they want to change the only thing I was good at, and that was being me. And this place they didn’t want to change it. It’s like, ‘No, you’re okay. There’s something wrong with them.’”
Life with the gangs was filled with more than just violence. “It moved to the drug scene. Then it moved to the prostitution. And then it got more violent where people got hurt. And so we would go and started to sell crack cocaine. And we’d do it on the street corner, eventually getting houses and eventually taking up blocks. And it just spread.”
Troy became a leader of his gang. “After I became an officer in the organization, then I was given my own space. That’s when I went over and quite frankly take over my mother’s neighborhood. I set up shop and recruited some guys. We grew very quickly from about 10-15 guys to sometimes 50-60 people.”
But the years of violence took their toll. “Every single day. It was just, it was like warfare. Quite frankly, I got tired of it. It was just a matter of time. Either I was going to be in prison or I was going to be dead.”
Troy wanted to start over and he left Grand Rapids and moved to Detroit. There he met a girl named LeDawn at a bar and they moved in together. But LeDawn decided to clean up her life and go back to the faith she knew as a little girl. She remembers, “There was something about me that I knew I was away from God and my actions were showing that.”
LeDawn invited Troy to church. “So to convince me to go to church was a miracle. She got me to go and a guy Jesse Duplantis was preaching. He said a statement, ‘It’s not enough for you to sit here and say that you’re a man. But it’s time for you to stand up and be God’s man.’ And that day I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.”
Troy remembers his prayer that day. “I said, ‘If You can take this desire to drink my life away to take away the pain, to take away the hurts, if You can take this away from me, I will serve You.”
LeDawn rededicated her life to Christ and she and Troy married. Troy was excited about his new life—but all he really knew was how to survive on the streets. “Once I accepted the Lord, I was trying to figure out like, ‘How I can use all those things for His glory?’ I wasn’t educated. I didn’t have any of that, but I had my street credit. I had my ability to hustle. I had my ability to recruit people. I had my ability—I still had that stuff. And so it’s like, ‘Well, how can that be used for His glory?’”
Men at his church mentored Troy. They taught him about God and trained him in business and computer technology. Troy excelled and became Microsoft certified and worked with several major companies. Ultimately he became an ordained minister and in 2009 he started a church in his hometown of Grand Rapids, to reach out to those in the inner city. LeDawn describes Troy’s mission. “I think he wants to see broken people restored. And to see that there is hope, we don’t have to live a hopeless life. I think that’s huge for him, cause a lot of his life he felt hopeless.”
Now he and his family live and are welcomed in the area where he was once feared. “There’s a lot of Troy Evans out here with much greater stories and all that stuff. But man, it’s still pretty sweet to know that God can and He will redeem anything and anybody.”
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