(July 22, 2021) Scott Bailey (prison I.D. left) shares his testimony…
‘I’m not going to survive this. There’s nothing left to live for. I give up!’
Through tears I fashioned a noose from the bed sheet, eyeing the light fixture at the top of my cell. It should hold me I thought. What was there left to live for? I had failed in every area of my life, withdrawal from drug addictions would probably kill me anyway. I prepared to end my life. I had become a prisoner of my own making.
Cancer death sentence
Years earlier, I had received a blow that changed my life forever… My doctor told me, ‘Scott, you have a rare cancer called Mucadermal Carcinoma. Due to the rapid growth of the tumour in your lymph nodes, you have one to three years maximum to live.’
He had removed a large tumour located near my brain, nerves had been nicked and the right side of my face was paralysed. All I could hear echoing in my ears was the death sentence. Reeling from shock, I recounted the beginning of my drug addiction 15 years earlier.
What was once a ‘party addiction’ of heroin, cocaine and pills now became a way of life, massive amounts. It didn’t matter; I was going to die anyway. I pushed away those who loved me. I became so strung-out that I kept a syringe of heroin in the drawer waiting for me so that when I woke up in cold sweats in the middle of the night.
I became your everyday garden-variety sleazy junkie. Who could ever love me? I was so addicted there was no way out.
‘God… please help’
Soon I was busted for drug possession and so began my life as a prisoner starting off as a weekend in gaol, and years later bunking in the same prison as Charlie Manson.
During one of my short-term stays I found myself drawn to a Bible study with other inmates and learned a little about a Saviour I never knew. When I got out on the streets, I tried to keep reading the Bible. I started in the gospels reading Jesus’ words in the morning, only to gravitate back to partying every night. Bible reading stopped, partying continued full blast. I quit showing up to meetings with my probation officer, which put me in violation. On the run, my addictions were back full force and I was more desperate than ever.
One dark, cold night I slept under a bush in my hometown, where I had grown up the highly favoured great-grandson of one of the most influential men in that city. Look at me now, I thought. I cried and cried. I had squandered it all – money, looks, influence, education, and the right upbringing – all of it wasted and I wrestled with my reality under a bush.
I remembered the God of the red letters in the gospels – who loved me when no one else would. I mustered up my voice and whispered to him. ‘God, if you hear me, if you know me, I need you. Please help me. I can’t stop these drugs.’
A couple days later the police found me. I was busted, gaoled! This brought me to face my greatest fears… I would now experience full withdrawal from drugs and my final days living with cancer in a cell.
Fitting the noose
Now… as I was lowering the noose over my head, the speaker in my solitary cell burst with the words ‘Chow call.’
Bewildered and frustrated I took off the noose and ventured out into the main population of convicts. I was drenched in sweat, shaking, having thrown up for three days, overwhelmed with the fatigue of not sleeping, and depression of a dying man.
I couldn’t eat, could barely sit and focus. My stomach and bowels were exploding and my muscles twitched on the verge of seizure.
Walking back to my cell, I was not sure if I had it in me to make another attempt at killing myself. But… when the cell door opened, there on my bunk was a Bible! How did it get there?
Immediately falling to my knees near the bed I began to weep. God was real and he did care about me. I wept and wept, crying out to be forgiven. Desperately needing him, my only hope to survive, I wanted to know this loving God who chased me down. Hope began to invade my heart.
Tears flowed from my eyes – a pool on the concrete at least eighteen inches in diameter as I marveled at how my physical ailments seemed to diminish as I held God’s word close to my heart.
Each day I physically felt stronger, healthier, and renewed. I was filled with hope and truth. Jesus Christ was my Saviour who delighted in leaving the 99 to come find me.
Opening the Bible, I began reading from Acts. Here were Christians who had just gone through what appeared to be the most agonising of circumstances, having watched their Saviour crucified.
They felt alone and were not sure what to do next. I related to them. Reading on I learned about Paul who was imprisoned for loving his Saviour. Words were jumping off the pages and ministering to my soul.
Nothing could stop me from devouring his word. Soon I began to speak with anyone who would listen, inmates and guards. We all needed hope and direction. I spent about a month in county lock-up. This was a time of preparation, equipping me to walk with the God who loved me.
I was transferred to Chino State Prison, which was a lot scarier than staying in county lock-up. I leaned on God for hope and courage. Here they allowed me one possession, my Bible.
During my twelve-week stay I had a different roommate every week, all of whom I shared the love of Christ with. At least eight of them began to study the Bible and pray with me each day. Soon I was allowed to go outside and have recreation time. My circle of influence grew and I shared whenever I could. Some looked ready to kill me, but I was so full of joy being alive I did not care. Sharing from the scriptures with greater confidence each day I saw God’s favour going before me always.
After twelve weeks I got word that they were transferring me to Corcoran State Prison. I received many concerned looks, even from the guards. ‘What’s wrong with Corcoran?’ I would plead. I came to find out it was designed for hardened criminals with the highest security level, including a death row.
I cried out to the Lord. ‘Why, Lord, why are you sending me there?’ Once again, I was stripped of everything I had, except my Bible. I was in solitary lockdown for two weeks with a roommate who looked like Charlie Manson’s double. Needless to say, there were quite a few restless nights in that cell!
They moved me to new housing and I received freedom to walk the yard. That’s when God began to open my understanding of why he brought me there. I found out the first day in the yard that there was a chapel. Seeing the door open I yelled, ‘Praise the Lord!’ A convict my age yelled back, ‘What? Praise the Lord!’ His name was Dyon, the chaplain’s assistant. He came out with a puzzled look on his face because apparently not many stopped by with that kind of greeting.
We soon became fast and best friends. His knowledge of the word was incredible and he began to disciple me. At Corcoran we had the best Christian library in the whole state penal system, and I was accepted into a Bible college program for prisoners.
August of 1990 I was released with $200 to my name. To be honest I was more anxious about living my Christianity on the streets in the midst of temptation than I was coming into prison on my first day. Thankfully, I had made many friends who were praying for me. Guards took me to the train station and paid for my one-way ticket to Santa Ana. That city was where many of my former drug connections lived and I quickly hopped any bus that would get me away from there.
Calling on a true friend
Finding a motel room for the night, I spent my last fifty bucks.
‘What should I do, Lord?’ I began to pray. Not wanting to contact my old druggie friends, I remembered one true friend I could trust. He was responsible, owned a house and his own company. I called him.
He seemed genuinely glad to hear my voice and informed me he had just got married. Right now, it wouldn’t be a good time for me to come by. I explained my new faith in Christ. Thanking him for being a faithful friend through all the years I assured him, ‘Jesus will take care of me.’
Prayer consumed me all night. Early the next morning as I was leaving the hotel room, the phone rang. It was 6:30 in the morning; no one knew I was around. Who could be calling? Grabbing the phone I heard my old friend’s voice.
‘Scott?’ he said, ‘I’ve been up all night calling every hotel in the surrounding cities trying to find you.’ Apparently, I had shared the love of Christ with him but forgot to mention where I was staying!
‘After you hung up, my wife and I talked. We decided we want you to move in with us for two months, free room and board. Over that time, if you work for me I’ll give you $1000 to go get a place of your own.’
30 year ministry begins
All through the years God had provided and cared for my soul! At the end of two months I moved into an apartment in Dana Point where I was to meet my future wife and begin what is now a 30-year ministry with the Lord. God has blessed me with three beautiful children and a chance to know him, love him and serve him. He has never once let me down!
(Scott Bailey today)
It is a great and marvelous mystery to be loved by the God of the universe. He calls us his very own, his friends, his kids, co-inheritors of the kingdom with his Son, Jesus. The King of kings and Lord of lords has delighted in walking with me every step of the way.
No storm has overtaken me that he has not provided a way through. No trouble has saddened me that he has not caught my every tear and comforted my soul. He has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams. And he wants to bless you!
If you’ve not met this God of heaven yet, then take a moment to invite him into your heart. Jesus took your every trouble to the cross and willingly paid your price there. He rose on the third day to bring you not only life eternal, but life more abundantly.
I am a living testimony of that grace, a living stone standing here declaring that God is good and he loves you no matter what. He has set this prisoner free. How about you?
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here
Excerpted from GodReports.com, founded by Mark Ellis in 2009 and devoted to promoting Christian missions by sharing stories and testimonies from missionaries and mission organisations.