Bill Dallas: Sanctified at San Quentin
By Mia Evans
The 700 Club
Bill Dallas admits he dreamed of taking over the world. But first, he set his sights on San Francisco’s booming real estate market in the late 1980s.
In the words of Bill Dallas:
“That was about the time that Donald Trump had just come out with a book called The Art of the Deal. That became my Bible. That became my driving force to make as many deals as possible.”
Bill’s unrelenting drive for success began 3,000 miles away in his hometown of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.
“I had so little self-esteem. Didn’t get affirmation from my family. Didn’t really get affirmation from anybody. I think I immediately gravitated toward success, even as early as high school growing up, because I felt that would give me the self-esteem; that would fill that hole inside of me that I didn’t get growing up.”
With plans to dominate the bay area real estate market, Bill and his business partner started a real-estate development company called Lucas-Dallas.
“In our minds we were wildly successful (he laughs) and to the appearance to everybody – we were. We understood how to play the game. We really truly wanted to be successful, but I think mostly we created a big show.”
Bill filled his nights with partying.
“Life outside the office was about as fast paced as life inside the office. Women were my life, a lot of drinking a lot of drugs; anything to keep me numb up until I went to bed at night; because I didn’t want to slow down to have to think about what was going on inside of me. And so I just wanted to keep a very fast-paced life.”
The party was about to end. In 1990, the real estate market crashed.
“Eventually, by ’91, all the real estate projects we were involved in, all the housing projects, all the land development, everything got foreclosed on; got taken back by the bank. Instantaneously, we lost everything. And we were out of a job; all of our investors lost all of their money. So now I’m alone with myself, and that was the loneliest time of my life because now I had to come face to face with who I was. I realized that, number one, I didn’t like who I was; and number two, I realized there was an emptiness there that I could never fill.”
One night Bill remembered a quote someone had shared with him 15 years earlier.
“Blaise Pascal had said, ‘we’re all created with a God shaped vacuum – that we try to put all these things in.’ And it dawned on me that I’d been doing that all these years. I had been trying to put things into my heart. I had been trying to fill it with all these things and I realized that I wasn’t finding peace; and just got down on my hands and knees. It was a simple prayer. I just said, ‘Jesus.’ I said, ‘I’m just empty.’ I said, ‘Can you come into my life, because I just can’t do it anymore’”
“It wasn’t a Damascus Road experience; it wasn’t a bright light. But there was a sense that there was something different; and when that happened, it changed everything. Now it didn’t necessarily [make] all my problems go away, because life happens. But that hole was never empty, ever again. But, I had to get to the end of myself to realize I needed a Savior. And I just started growing in my faith; just put all my energy and effort into growing with God. But the thing about it is, even though I was growing in my faith, I had still made a carnage of my life. There were still things from my past that I hadn’t dealt with: my real estate business, my investors.”
A series of bad business decisions caught up with Bill and his old partner. Their investors came looking for their money.
“They went down to the DA and said, ‘you need to press charges against these two guys, because what they did with our money was wrong.’”
Bill and his partner were arrested and charged with embezzlement and co-mingling of funds. Bill faced five years in San Quentin, one of the country’s toughest maximum security prisons.
“Although I went there on February first, thinking, ‘it’s me and God; I’m going to be okay.’ Not too long after I’d been in prison, I hit a deep depression, like you wouldn’t believe. Every day I would literally get out of my cell. I would go to the prison yard. I would curl up in a ball, unshaven, unbathed; I would curl up there and just cry and ‘woe is me.’ And I just said, ‘Life is never going to get any better.’ And I prayed like Elijah, ‘God please take my life.’”
But God had other plans for Bill.
“There are certain inmates, tremendous men of faith, who come alongside you and they want to see you get better. So I was curled up on the ground, and an inmate comes over and he says, ‘Buddy, I see you every day curled up on the yard. You know what you need? You need a job!’”
Bill began working for San Quentin TV, which provides educational programming for inmates.
“You know, I think about the things that saved my life in San Quentin - it was that job.”
After his release from prison, Bill followed his new passion for video production. His work has brought him face to face with some of today’s most influential people. He is now president and CEO of CCN, the Church Communication Network. Through satellite and internet technology, CCN broadcasts training seminars and events to 6,000 churches across America.
“No matter where you are in life, no matter how desperate - you think that life’s not going to get better or you can’t see anything good coming of it. Sometimes it’s right [at that point] - that’s where the plan is; that’s where He’s in full action. But you’re not going to see it right then, and sometimes you don’t see it on this side of heaven, but He is. And I promise you He does it because He promises that He is going to carry it on to completion and His word is true.”
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.