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From Crude Oil and Crude Living to Prison Evangelist

From Crude Oil and Crude Living to Prison Evangelist Read Transcript


It's line pipe, a 36-inch line pipe.

David Howell knows a good investment when he sees one.

They're taking pipe all over the place.

JOHN JESSUP: At 14, he started working in the oil industry.

Today, he makes a living buying old, underground pipes

and rehabilitating them giving second Life to what

many might consider waste.

DAVID: It is ultimate recycling to me, and like I said,

it's just timber and steel that can be used and reused.

JOHN JESSUP: In a way, David's career

has come full circle much like his life.

DAVID: If you can imagine a total self-centered life--

me, me, me-- that was me, me, me.

And a lot of that centered around alcohol, sex,

all the things, money, and just taking

care of my own personal needs.

JOHN JESSUP: As a young husband and father,

he wanted to abandon his destructive lifestyle.

So he turned to Alcoholics Anonymous

and soon after found himself in church.

I jumped into AA and became Mr. AA.

And when I became a Christian, I said

that this is going to be an all-or-nothing deal for me

well.

JOHN JESSUP: Now sober for more than 35 years,

David has dedicated his new life to sharing his story

with anyone who will listen.

DAVID: I would find people outside of a meeting

and would go to lunch or go to coffee,

and I would write stick figures and show people

the story of Jesus.

VICKIE: The AA crowd, being part of that

and that he used a lot there and experimented there,

I think that was his testing ground.

JOHN JESSUP: Several years ago he

wrote a book called "How to be a Child of God,"

and that opened a new door.

Even though he is a gifted evangelist by gift,

he never really had seen this coming.

I never saw this coming.

David's success has served him well,

but after 30 years in the industry,

he's spending less time reclaiming old pipes on the oil

field and spending more time on the mission field reclaiming

souls for Christ.

In places like this, behind wire fencing with armed guards

and under constant surveillance, David Howell's book

is making the biggest impact.

"CBN News" obtained rare access to talk

with prisoners about the value of David's

52-page, how-to guide.

Since I read that book, I changed my life.

JOHN JESSUP: Kerith Gilstrap anxiously

await his release in September after serving

a two-year sentence for aggravated assault

with a deadly weapon.

Kerith, how else have you changed?

Has there been a change in your personality and your behavior?

Yes, definitely.

I've learned how to tame my tongue.

I've been reading my Bible more, doing a lot of Bible study.

So yes, definitely.

Can you think others have noticed the changes as well?

Yes.

My cell mate.

He's been telling me.

What has he told you?

He said, you're going all holy on me, ain't you?

I was like, man, I'm trying to get right.

When go back out, I can't be who I used to be.

JOHN JESSUP: Jackie Beaver's anger issues

landed him in prison for more than 20 years,

serving time for aggravated robbery and kidnapping.

He wrote to David to tell him his book was amazing

and opened his eyes to a lot he didn't know.

I'm a true believer that Jesus Christ died for my sins.

And when I read that book, it's like a breath of fresh air.

It's like something took over me.

JOHN JESSUP: "CBN News" was there

to record the moment both men personally

got to thank the author.

For David, the meeting only confirms the call

to keep reaching out to the two million American men and women

behind bars.

Here I am 77, and I'm a roughneck from South Texas.

And what do I know about writing a book about salvation?

But I could identify with those kind of people.

I've roughnecked with them.

I've worked with them.

For all the things that I did in all those years of that hellish

living, he got caught, and I didn't.

The only difference is he's in prison, and I'm not.

JOHN JESSUP: Prison volunteer, Rick Pritchard,

hands out copies of "How to be a Child of God."

He says, it's colorful, easy to understand,

and produces real change in a place of physical and often

spiritual bondage.

They're free.

And you could tell when they got--

Jackie, the smile on their faces, you know they're free.

They're free inside.

David wants to get 600,000 copies of his book

into America's largest State and federal prisons and county

jails, all with the goal of helping

men and women behind bars experience spiritual freedom.

That's what we say in prison evangelism.

I'm changing hearts and closing prisons.

So the return on the investment is incredible.

Reporting from the Eastham Unit in Lovelady, Texas,

I'm John Jessup for "CBN News."

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