Billy Hall's Prison Miracle
By Rob Hull
The 700 Club
CBN.com -“I was dead, I was dead. I was finished. My life was at an end. There was no hope for me.”
Billy Hall survived three tours of duty in Vietnam. But his darkest moments were yet to come; alone, behind bars in Folsom prison. “I was just a dead man walking; I was just a guy waiting to die.”
His trouble started shortly after he left the Marines. Billy couldn’t find work to support his young family. “I had to be the all American dad. I had to be the perfect dad because I’m a Marine. I was so desperate. I would run out of money. We didn’t have any money anymore, and no car. It was just a real difficult time for our family.”
In desperation he started planning and committing armed robberies. “I justified it by saying, ‘This is a mission. This is my Intel. This is what we’re going to do. This is how we’re going to do it.’ (I was) holding people hostage, tying them up, taking them in the back room and then going into the safe and getting the money out of the safe. And if other people had to be deprived of what they had then that was just the end that justified the means.”
Billy got away with several armed robberies but secretly he hoped he would get caught. “I feel like this runaway freight train, no breaks. I’m speeding down this track. I can’t quit. When I’m doing one robbery I’m thinking about the future robberies. I’m planning others. I can’t stop this. My mind is constantly going. I can’t sleep at night.”
Eventually Billy was caught and arrested. Due to the number of robberies and violent nature of his crimes he was sentenced to nine consecutive 5 to life terms. The reality of life behind bars sank in as he entered Folsom prison. “That oppression, that sense of control, that lack of identity (was all I knew). You don’t have a name anymore. You’re a number. B63934 that was my name and you’re a property of the state. And I’m thinking one day I’m going to die in this cell. If I die an old man, I die alone… alone. No body’s there. That was the emptiest time of my life.”
His friends and family abandoned him. Alone with his thoughts, Billy could only think of one way out. “’Why don’t you just kill yourself? What are you waiting for? You’re going to die anyway. Why wait? Why not do it right now?’”
“And to kill ourselves there we would grab the bars and beat our heads into the bars until blood just hemorrhaged and we’d die. Well I was getting ready to beat my head into the bars that night. And there was another voice that came and that voice was, ‘I love you Billy.’ I remember those words so clearly, ‘I love you Billy.’ I didn’t love myself. People didn’t love me. My letters that I wrote were sent return to sender. They wouldn’t even open my letters. Nobody loved me. ‘God, if you’re for real, do something in my life because I’m afraid to die. I want peace in my heart. Just give me peace in my heart.’”
“I went to sleep that night and when I woke up in the morning, man, I still had nine life sentences. I was still in Folsom Prison. I was still walking five steps one way, seven steps the other way and yet there was brand new – inside of me. Something happened inside of me and I discovered it was God coming into me. It wasn’t the God I knew from experience of other people. ‘Now, I know you Lord, I know you God. You’re for real. You’re here in me.’ He’s here. He’s new. He’s real. He’s fresh. And I’m free, I’m free. He changed me from the inside not the outside.”
Two years into his sentence he was called to the warden’s office.
“Went to the office and sat down and he said, ‘B63934 we’re sending you home in six months.’ I couldn’t even talk. My mouth was moving and tears were coming down my face. I was just stunned. I hadn’t even reached the first minimum five years. What the warden did, he took that parole date and he sent it to the governor of California and asked the Governor to approve it because the parole board wouldn’t approve it. The gate opened and I felt myself stepping out of a grave into life and it really does smell different, the air outside those prison walls.”
To this day he doesn’t know why the warden secured his release, but he believes it was a miracle. “All the things the Devil used against me, God uses against him. He puts his Holy Ghost spin on all of that shame and regret and brings a ministry out of it.”
Billy has spent much of his new life as a missionary in Ethiopia, thankful that God heard his prayers behind the walls of Folsom prison. “It’s been one miracle after another miracle taking me down this path. (I’m) following Him into the unknown. (I’m) walking with the God of miracles every day, holding His hand, walking under His smile. Oh no, it doesn’t get any better.”
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