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Feared Gang Member Leads 200 to Christ

Shannon Woodland - 700 Club Producer
Danielle Thompson - 700 Club Producer

“I remember trying to push his face towards the gas, where the gas was released.  And I turned the gas on.”

Casey was a mere 8 years old, when he decided to kill his father using a portable gas heater.

“My mom walked in on it. It freaked her out.  She said, ‘What’s going on?’ And I remember turning to her and telling her, ‘Just leave it alone, I’ll take the blame.’  My hope was that he would fall asleep and never wake up,” said Casey.

His dad was a violent, abusive alcoholic.

“He would start literally beating my mom right in front of me.  I recall seeing her in a closet with, in her own blood, and there’s nothing you can do.”

“I remember in one occasion him grabbing me by the shoulders, bringing me close to him. And he says to me, ‘Don't ever call me your Dad. Don't ever call me Dad.’  And then I remember just feeling a sense of emptiness. You feel worthless. You feel like ‘Why are you even here?’ I became angry.  I became very angry.”

Casey would find purpose in a south-central L.A. gang.  He easily became violent, stabbing his first victim at just 11 years old.

He said, “What made it so easy for me to stab somebody is that I put the face of my father on every single one of my victims.”

More victims would follow, as did a lengthy rap sheet.  He rose up in the gang world, feared and hunted by rival gangs.  At 16, Casey was sentenced to 12 years in a juvenile correction facility for 2nd degree murder and 52 counts of armed robbery.

He ruled the gang infested prison, until he attacked another inmate.

Casey said, “I strangled him almost to death.”

That landed him in solitary confinement at new Folsom State Penitentiary.  One day, a Christian woman, Frances, came by to invite him to a monthly Bible study.

“You're crazy.  What are you talking about? Bible study?" said Casey.  “And I’m going, ‘She’s nuts. She doesn't know who she's talking to.’  And she says, ‘You know, I'm going to be praying for you, and I'm putting you on my prayer hit list.’  She uses that word.   I said, ‘You can do whatever you want, that's fine.’ I said, ‘But I'm letting you know right off the bat, I'm not interested in any of your Bible study or whatever religious thing you’re in.’”

Every month for a year, she came by and Casey declined.  But each time, her response was the same.

Casey said, “She would always say to me ‘I'm praying for you and Jesus is going to use you.’"

In his second year of solitary he was awake, lying in his bunk. . .

“When all of a sudden I started seeing what looks like a movie reel. I'm seeing footage that only I know from me growing up. And it starts to go into some details from like the first thing that I ever stole from a 7-Eleven to cars that I stole.  To the first stabbing that I partook of,” Casey said.

Then a different scene appeared.

He said, “And I could see this man carrying this cross.  And I saw the nails on his hands and his feet.”

The man addressed Casey by a name.

“My birth name’s Darwin. He says, ‘Darwin, I did this for you.’ And I could hear in my cell, audibly, his breath leaving him,” said Casey.

“I hit the center of that floor, and wept.  Weeping uncontrollably.  And telling God ‘I'm so sorry for stabbing this person and stabbing this person over here.  I didn't know what I was doing.’ I didn't know what was happening, but I knew that something had happened here, there was this freedom that I had never experience in my life.”

Casey says Jesus told him to talk to the prison chaplain.  

“He said, ‘What happened in the cell is what happened in the cell.  God has already forgiven you.  This is why you feel so free.’”   

He prayed with the chaplain to accept Christ.

Casey said, “It was God dealing with me on a one on one basis, removing that desire of wanting to hurt people.  It just went away supernaturally.”

But Casey’s faith would be tested.  Now 18, he was released from solitary and a hit was placed on his head for becoming a Christian and leaving the gang.  One day, an inmate came to his cell with a knife.

“And he says ‘I can’t do it.  I can’t do this to you.’  He says, ‘But whatever you're doing, I'll roll with you.’ And he became the first person I led to the Lord was a guy that was assigned to do the hit.”

The hit was removed and for the remaining five years of his sentence, Casey would lead over 200 inmates to Christ.  At age 25, Casey was released.

In time, he forgave his dad, who eventually gave his life to Christ as well.  Today, Casey owns a successful sign business and lives in L.A. with his family.

“Coming to Christ was, is, and will always be the best decision that any man could ever make.  He is so relentless in His pursuit of us.  You might not notice it right away.  But God is after the sinner. His favor and His mercy and His grace, it just floors you.”

Find Casey's book, The Shot Caller.

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