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Bryan Dawson's Story: From Hell's Highway to the Valley of Vision

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
September 15, 2022 3:02 am

Bryan Dawson's Story: From Hell's Highway to the Valley of Vision

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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September 15, 2022 3:02 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, you are about to hear the miraculous story from one of our own here at Our American Stories. Bryan Dawson went from being your local suburban high school football player to being considered such a nefarious and menacing fugitive that the world-famous bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman refused to pursue him.

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This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories. And this next story, well, it's close to home. And by the way, the best stories that we all have are right near us, folks, in our neighborhood, in our families, in our churches, in our businesses.

And here at Our American Stories, we've gotten to know one of our workers, an affiliate sales guy from Alabama, and a great guy, a great family. Well, he shared his story with me and I was just, well, it wasn't just me, it was everybody in the room listening. It was as if we were hearing a movie being told, a great movie, a compelling movie. It was a heck of a story. And so we asked him to tell it. And so without further ado, this is a story about everything, folks.

Love, hate, family, and redemption. I had a pattern in my life with girls putting me in the friend zone. The very first girl that ever put me in the friend zone, I remember, was in eighth grade and I was in Mr. Dunn's science class.

And I remember leaning over to my friend Ryan and saying, who's that? And neither of us knew who she was. And I developed the courage to ask her to eighth grade graduation dance. And I guess what I mean by developed the courage, I asked one of her friends to ask her if she would go to the eighth grade graduation dance with me. And she said yes. After that, I told her how much I liked her, wanted to be with her, professed my undying love for her, and she put me in the friend zone.

And that would be a pattern that we go on for the long haul. Looking back at my childhood, there's a couple key moments that really stick out to me. As far as I can remember, my mom and my dad never really being together.

That's never a memory that I can remember them actually being together or being married. But I do remember as it got to be about my first grade year, my mother joined the army. She kind of bounced around from job to job and couldn't find anything solid. And she really wanted to do something to support us.

And I have a brother, Brad, who is he's two years older than me, but we have different dads. She eventually got stationed in Germany and that launched into a giant custody battle. My dad was a very responsible, hardworking, structured individual in the obvious best place for me would have been with my father.

But the court's tendency is to always place the child with the mother unless there's just an absolute crazy circumstance that would lead them to do otherwise. But at that point, I was going to be with my dad and my mom had me go out to lunch right before really they were going to make their decision. And we had lunch with my brother and she basically said, well, you don't want to leave your brother, do you?

And, you know, there's castles in Germany and basically said all the things that you'd want to tell a kid to make them want to go that way. And I just remember the biggest feeling having is that I didn't want to leave my brother. I didn't want to leave my brother in that environment without me to be there with him. And I was, I think, seven years old at that time. And I went back and told the judge that I didn't want to go with my dad, as I had said previously, that I wanted to go with my mom. And that ended up being the ruling after all the time and money and everything that was spent on that custody battle. And I remember leaving the courthouse that day at seven years old, six years old, whatever it was, and my dad looking down at me as we waited for the light to turn across the road.

He said, you know, I'm very disappointed in you. And that kind of set a pattern really for the rest of my life with my father that I was kind of a disappointment. And then when we moved to Germany, my mom was still with this abusive guy.

He's the one that convinced her to join the army. And when we moved to Germany, we lived in what's called the economy. So we didn't live on base. We lived in an apartment above a pub, and the pub was called Klaus's Pub. And my mom and her husband, Dave, would drink every night, and they would fight every night, and sometimes it would become abusive, and sometimes the screaming and all those things got to be so bad. My brother and I would always wonder if it was going to be us next, and fortunately we were never physically abused. But I remember wanting to protect my mom, but only being eight years old and small and having this desire to protect my mom and inability to do so. And it kind of developed feelings of cowardice that I wasn't able to protect my mom. That all came to an end when we started going to church, and she left Dave.

We moved on base. We started going to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, and on Wednesdays, and every time the doors were open, we got involved and really began to experience a sense of belonging. And that went on for about a year, and there was no drinking, and it was like this stability in our lives. It was like the calm and the storm of my life as I look back on it. I remember coming home from school one day.

It was one of my last days of fourth grade. And I came home, and my mom had been free from drinking for a year, free from partying. Our life was so much better. I came home, and there was a beer sitting on the end table beside the couch. And I looked at the beer, and I looked at my mom, and I knew that we were going back into that lifestyle and that all that peace and calm was over. I was old enough to equate beer with pain and my mom drinking beer and alcohol with pain and suffering for my brother and I and instability. And I remember being fueled and filled with hatred and anger towards my mother.

And I remember screaming at her and telling her that I hated her and that I wanted nothing to do with her and that I wanted to move back to the States and I wanted to move in with my dad. Then when I moved in with my dad, I used to go to church with my friend and his mom. And we would go to church, and it would be fun, and it would be fine. But then we'd get in the car, and his mom would gossip about everybody in the church all the way home. And then she would pick us up, and she actually gave us a ride to school on the days that the weather was bad. And she would just gossip about people in the church the whole way to school and the whole way back. And I'm like, you people are ridiculous. And so what I did is I took a few Christians, and I labeled all Christians as these few. And so in my mind, I had this core belief that all Christians were these gossipy, judgmental people.

And so I hated them. And when we come back, we continue with this really raw and really real story, and it's Brian Dawson's story, here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell, and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation.

A monthly gift of $17.76 is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to now, and go to the donate button, and help us keep the great American stories coming. That's And we're back here at Our American Stories, and we continue this remarkable story, again one that comes close to home, as close as can be, right here on our own staff.

Let's continue with Brian Dawson's story. My mom moved back from Germany, and she went to Colorado Springs. So I went and spent a summer with my mom in Colorado. Well, my brother was two years older than me, and he had friends that were, you know, drinking beer, and drinking liquor, and going camping, and smoking pot, and doing all that kind of stuff. And I went out there, and I'd never been exposed to any of that stuff personally, obviously seeing my mom drinking and things like that, but never personally. And, you know, I remember, you know, drinking a beer and then, you know, trying liquor, and the first liquor I ever tasted was Hot Damn 100. And I was the little brother of not only my big brother, but that whole group. And I fit in, and the more I drank, the more I fit in. And the more I drank, the more comfortable I was in my own skin. You know, they call it liquid courage, but it was so much more than liquid courage for me. It was liquid, I can actually deal with life.

Everything in my life, I've always been very intense and very all in, whatever it was that I was doing. And I began to drink heavily. I was drinking tequila, whiskey, Hot Damn that whole summer. And the following summer, I went back to Colorado, and I started to smoke pot. And as I smoked pot, it was the same thing, you know. I just enjoyed not being who I guess I thought I was.

You know, I eventually made, when I was 16 years old, I got my driver's license, I made a fake ID on a computer. And I got to the point where I could go and buy liquor, and then I became very popular for that reason. So a lot of it was fitting in and all of those things, and I would go and I was able to buy liquor for these parties, which made me like the coolest person in the party.

And I would drink to the point of blacking out once or twice a week, and this is as a 16 year old. And meanwhile, I was working a job at Dillon's, which is a Kroger store, and playing football, playing baseball, and somewhat maintaining my grades. I went from a straight A student to probably about a C student, and I stopped caring about school, which is interesting because up to that point when I started drinking and doing drugs, all I cared about was school. I got straight A's, I scored off the charts on all these tests, the standardized tests, and I didn't care about school anymore.

All I cared about was the social aspect, the partying, the girls, and being wasted basically. The summer between my junior and senior year, I went out to Colorado and my brother was a driver for a, I wouldn't say notorious, but a pretty big time drug dealer in Colorado Springs. His name was Casey, and my brother had a driver's license and a nice truck. So Casey would just have him drive him around, and they'd be dropping mostly pot, but whatever around.

And the craziest things would happen, man. So I spent the whole summer riding around with him, just seeing him be this alpha male that everyone looked up to, and everyone respected, and he had money, and he had girls, and he had all these things. I'm like, that's what I want to do. So I went back to Kansas that summer, and here's the thing, up to that point I was excelling in football, and I did really well in baseball too, but I excelled in football, and we had a great football team that year. And I was really coming into my own as a defensive end and a tight end on offense, and we were expected to do really, really well that year. And I was so torn between really wanting to pour myself into football or pour myself into this party life, and I had tried cocaine when I was out there. So I was really starting to do more serious drugs as I'm going into my senior year, and I started my senior year, and I got about two weeks into it. And I snuck out of the house, and I went and tried ecstasy with some of my friends, and a couple of the guys were actually football players on the team. And I remember trying to sneak back in, and I got caught, and he told me that I had to quit football and go to rehab or I could quit football and go to Colorado, but I wasn't going to continue playing football.

This is really when the resentment with my dad hit its peak. So I decided to quit football and move back to Colorado with my mom, and what that basically meant is I was on my own. And I just started partying full-blown, and I started working for Casey and started selling weed, and got involved in that lifestyle, and then I started doing cocaine on a pretty regular basis. And as I did cocaine, I realized, hey man, I can't pay for cocaine selling weed. So I started selling cocaine, and I just had this knack and this ability to rise to the top in these, I guess, drug dealer ladders of influence.

I just had a knack for that life. So I started selling a little bit of Coke, and next thing you know, I was selling a lot of Coke, and I was doing a lot of Coke, and it got to the point, it was so bad, I would have to take Xanax to go to sleep, and then I would wake up the next day, and really the next evening at like 4 or 5 in the evening, I'd wake up, I'd blow my nose, and snot and cocaine and blood would come out, and my nose would just be bleeding and bleeding and bleeding. As soon as it would start to kind of slow down a little bit, I would do another line and start drinking, and then that's what I did.

And it got so bad to where I couldn't even breathe out of my nose anymore. My friend tried to introduce me to crack, and I'm like, this isn't for me. So then he had me try crystal meth, and that was it. And once I did crystal meth, there was no having to take Xanax to go to sleep. There was no drinking whiskey to mellow out.

It was just, it was wide open. And already at this point when I started doing meth, I already had my first felony arrest. I was arrested with a half ounce of cocaine and had bonded out and got probation and all those things, and it didn't slow me down.

I continued to use drugs, continued to party, didn't go to my probation appointments, didn't do any of those things. And I got to a point where I was very well known in Colorado Springs for my ability to sell drugs and do a number of other things, and I remember getting a phone call from a girl named Camille, and she said, I've got some pretty serious guys that I know that want to talk to you about, you know, kind of you partnering with them or working with them. And so I came to her apartment, and I walked into her apartment. I remember it was kind of an uneasy feeling, and there was some very mean-looking, dark, nefarious-looking individuals that were Hispanic guys, Mexican guys, and they had handkerchiefs on over their faces, but they were in suits.

It was weird. And I'm like, well, I'm either going to get killed or this is going to go really well. And they sat down and just talked to me and asked me a bunch of questions and asked me what I could do for them, and I think they were kind of new to coming into Colorado Springs to do what it was that they were wanting to do, and they needed somebody to help them, so they asked me to do that, and I did that. And not long after that, I ended up getting in a high-speed chase with the cops and ran, and I had a briefcase with meth and a pistol, got pulled over with that, got arrested, spent four and a half months in jail, county jail on that, got probation again, got out, went right back to it. And by that time, a lot of my connections had either gone back to Mexico or had been arrested as well, and I got into basically, I mean, I guess what it looked like was we would steal four-wheelers and motorcycles and things like that and give them to Mexicans that were bringing them back across the border into Mexico, and then they would pay us some drugs. I was supposedly the ringleader of that whole thing.

I don't know how true that was, but that's the way it was in the cops' eyes. And they busted a house that had some of those motorcycles in them, and they pressured the guy who was there, and he told on me and said, you know, it was me, I was the one that was doing this, I was running all these rings. So he and a bunch of other people had told the cops that I was responsible for all this crime that was going on.

And I eventually got arrested, and I did another four months in county jail and ended up bonding out after those four months. And in that time, I got my discovery, and it said who had told on me. I was out driving around up to no good.

I'd been up for four days. We drove by the guy's house who told on me, who was the main informant in the case. And the guy I was with kept pumping me up, oh, no, we have to go in there, we can't let him tell on you and you not doing anything. And so we went up to the front door and knocked on the door, and he opened the door and walked in the house and asked him why he told on me.

And he told me, I didn't tell on you, Brian, I would never tell on you. I knew that he was the informant in my case, so I began to beat him up really, really bad. And the guy I was with hit him in the head with a blunt force object.

It was called a blackjack, and it cracked his head open. And I thought he was going to die, so we grabbed a few objects out of his house and we left. And by the time I got back to my house, I ended up getting arrested. And charged with attempted murder, aggravated robbery, and extortion.

And on top of all that, this was a guy who estates evidence, so he was an informant that I did all these things to, so that aggravated it. And my goodness, what a story. And when we come back, you won't believe where it turns and where it goes. Brian Dawson's story, one of our staffers here at Our American Stories.

More after these messages. And we return to Brian Dawson's story here on Our American Stories. And let's pick up where we last left off. I was on the run, I bonded out again, and I was out on like, I don't know, a couple hundred thousand dollars worth of bonds. And I was supposed to go to a court date, and I ended up not going to that court date, so I became a fugitive. And shortly after that, I became one of Colorado Springs' most wanted criminals, most wanted fugitives.

And it was intense. I mean, they were raiding houses, they were setting up perimeters all throughout Colorado Springs. I don't know if you've ever seen them, like they basically have roads blocked off and they're showing pictures of me at every car that stops and goes through there. If you ever follow Dog the Bounty Hunter, Dog the Bounty Hunter did most of his shows in Colorado Springs.

Some in Hawaii, but most of them were in Colorado Springs. And Dog the Bounty Hunter was on a 72 hour, 72 fugitive sweep when I was on the run, and he said he wasn't going to go after me because I was supposedly too threatening or menacing or whatever for him to go after me. So it became very real. And there was a couple near misses where they almost had me and I was able to escape from them, and then they finally caught me and I was in my safe, I guess you'd call it a safe house. It was a third story apartment in Colorado Springs, and they finally closed in on me. And I remember sitting in the apartment that day, I was watching the Chappelle show, it was my last day out, July 19th, 2007. I'm watching the Chappelle show, cooking bratwurst in this apartment, and I look out the window and I'm on the third story, and I see the front end of a cop car, and I know that it's a cop car, and I knew that was it.

I just knew, I knew, okay, well, this is it. And there wasn't much in the apartment, but there was a recliner that was wider than the window was. So I'd taken a nylon rope, a rappelling rope, and I tied it to the bottom of the recliner, and I hear the door pounding, Colorado Springs Police, open up, and they're kicking in doors, making their way down to me. So I kick out the window and wrap my hand around the rope, and I jump out the window, and the recliner sticks and wedges right in the window just like I wanted it to, and as I'm hanging there, around both sides of this apartment building, these police come flooding, and there's 40 or 50 cops made up of El Paso County Sheriff's Deputies, Colorado Springs Police Department.

They come pouring around the side with their guns pulled and drawn on me. You know, get on the ground, get on the ground, get the F on the ground, and I'm like, I don't know where else I'm going to go, and I look up, and there's cops above me, cops below me. So I pulled up a little bit on the rope, unwrapped the rope with my hand, and dropped, and I dropped three stories, and I landed, and it's a miracle that I didn't get hurt there, but I landed and rolled, and then there was two K-9 units right there with the dogs barking in my face, and I remember laying there, and I could feel the heat from the dogs, and I'm just like, these dogs don't bite me, but that was it, and an officer stuck his knee in my back and cuffed me. They put me in the back of the cop car, and the craziest thing is I remember the relief that I had as I sat in the back of that cop car, because I knew it was all over.

I remember Rihanna's Umbrella song was on in the cop car as we were heading, you know, to county jail. I just had a sense of peace for whatever reason, and I ended up getting into county jail, where I would find out that I was facing 384 years in prison. With facing that much time, I started to get involved with some rough groups in the jail, thinking that I'm going away to prison for the rest of my life. I have to make a name for myself, I have to be tough, I have to be this guy, this prison guy, so I get into a bunch of fights, you know, I'm going up to these older kind of gangster guys, and they're saying, well I need you to go beat this guy, but I need you to go beat that guy. So I'm doing these things, and I eventually end up in administrative segregation, which is when you are in a concrete cell, it's about 8 foot by 12 foot, and there's a bunk in there, there's a metal bunk with a fire retardant mattress and a fire retardant pillow, and a sink that is attached to a toilet, it's a one piece toilet sink, and a desk.

And that's it, that's all you have in there, and I was in there for 23 hours a day, and I would get one hour where I could go make a phone call, take a shower, and I would go back in my cell, and I was there for several months. And in that time frame that I was in administrative segregation, I had a revelation, it was an epiphany, it was an aha moment, and it seemed silly, but it was huge. As I look back on it, it's the point as I try and counsel people who have been through these things before, or that are going through these things now, because people come to me because I've been through them before, they ask me, you know, what would you tell them, and this was the one thing that happened, and I'm sitting in administrative segregation, in this cell, by myself, been there for a couple months, and all of a sudden I realized, this is my fault.

This is all my fault. And I know that seems silly, or it sounds, you know, stupid or whatever, but really, no, this is all my fault, because up to that point, I blamed it on my mom, I blamed it on my dad, I blamed it on the judges, I blamed it on everyone but me, I blamed it on the corrupt system, you know, all the district attorneys, I mean, you name it, I blamed everybody, but then all of a sudden I realized, this is my fault. And it was so liberating, and it was so freeing, because I realized, if my choices created this circumstances, certainly I could make better choices that would create better circumstances, and I came to this realization that my choices are what create my circumstances, not the other way around. I wasn't a victim, that I'd created these circumstances through my choices. And from that moment forward, I made a decision that I was going to do things differently, and I did, and it wasn't easy, I had habits, I had, you know, thought patterns, I had all these things that were wrong, but I knew that I could make better choices than I was responsible for my choices, and I started doing that from that moment. I got on the phone, I called my grandma with tears in my eyes, and told her that I was going away forever, and she said, you know, I can tell there's been a huge change in your life, Brian, I can't put my finger on it, I don't know what it is, but I can tell there's something very different about you, because up to this point, they all cut me off. I burned every bridge in my family, they were done with me.

She said, we're going to get you an attorney, and she did, and the next day, I went to court, someone that was supposed to show up to the court, court date to be a witness in my trial, if I went to trial that day, didn't show up, so they had to postpone it for two weeks. Total miracle, the attorney was able to take my case, and get me into what's called a mediation hearing, and what a mediation hearing is, is where you basically go into arbitration with your sentence, like a used car sales, well I'll give you this, well no we want that, well I'll give you this, and no we want that, and they started at 32 years, and I started at 8 years, and a mediator went back and forth between the district attorney, and my lawyer and I, back and forth, back and forth, and they finally came down to a 15 year sentence, with a crime of violence, sentence enhancer, and I told them, I don't want that sentence enhancer, I don't want to be labeled a violent criminal, I don't want to go to some, you know, hardcore prison, and end up with swastikas all over my face, and turn into that guy, I want to change my life, I want a chance at changing my life, I said tell her, I'll give her a year if she drops that crime of violence, so I ended up getting sentenced to 16 years, and they dropped the crime of violence, and I went back to my cell after that mediation, and I knew that God had moved in my life, so I got sentenced, I got sentenced to 16 years, and then I went to the Denver Reception Diagnostic Center, this is a maximum security prison, and you roll up in a van, and there's rolls upon rolls of razor wire, there's gun towers with armed guards in the gun towers, they've got these little mirrors that go under the vans, that see if there's bombs under the vans, and it's just, it was very sobering, it was very real, that hey, I'm in prison, that's happening now, and I went in there, and I was there for a little while, and they sent me to my first facility, in Whereford County Correctional Center, it was Walsenburg, Colorado, and it was a private prison, and there's a lot of bad things that surround the idea of private prisons, but I had nothing but a very positive experience there, it was very evident that everybody there, that was involved with the staff members there, from our case managers to the teachers and things like that, that they wanted criminals to be rehabilitated, and they had a lot of programs, so I immediately started taking programs, I got my GED while I was at Walsenburg, and then I started taking college classes, and then I became a guy that helped other guys get their GED, and that's what I did for work in there, I was a tutor, and I helped people get their GEDs. And when we come back, the final installment of this remarkable story, one that hits close to home, our own Brian Dawson, his story continues, here on Our American Stories. And we return to Brian Dawson's story, and what a story it is, and again this one hits close to home, he's one of our people, and by the way, it just shows you that anything can happen in a person's life, here he is in prison, and he's already, you can hear it, he's a changed guy, and he wants to just get through this and come out on the other side, and so he's reoriented himself and his life right there, in what may be the very worst place in America to be as a young man.

Let's return to Brian's story. I was there for about nine months, but the very first person I met when I walked into Walsenburg was a guy with the name of Charles Frederick, and he comes up to me, he's this big guy, big burly guy, and he says, Hey, my name's Charles, and I'm a Christian, and this is a faith pod. So in these prisons they had these pods, they're called faith pods, and it was basically pods or units made up of about 120 inmates, and it was dedicated to discipleship, and I don't know how I landed in there, why I landed in there, but I was there, and Charles began to just tell me about Christ, tell me about who Jesus was, tell me about the gospel.

I told him, Charles, I don't want to hear that stuff, you know, I don't care. And, you know, he just said okay, and then he began to talk to me about other things, and he met my physical needs, he gave me coffee, he gave me shorts, he gave me, you know, things that, you know, you get in there, you got nothing other than a couple pairs of underwear and a green suit. So he helped me with some of those things and just became my friend, and as conversation would permit, he would tell me about Christ, and that would go on for about nine months.

He got shipped to another prison, I left that prison, they shut that prison down, and my security level dropped, and I bounced around a little bit for a couple years, and then I ended up in Sterling Correctional Facility in Sterling, Colorado. The first person I see, there's Charles again, and he starts telling me about Jesus Christ again. And I'm like, man, I don't want to hear this stuff. Well, we're there for a little bit, and he goes, hey, you know, you got parole coming up in a couple years, it would be good for you to have some certificates to, you know, show the parole board. I'm like, okay, and he goes, well, I'm the chaplain's assistant, I can get you in some programs.

I'm like, okay, yeah, go ahead, sign me up. So he signs me up, and they end up being faith-based programs, and I'm like, oh, I hate you, Charles. But the very first program I went into was a come as you are, we love everybody, you know, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, whatever, just come as you are. And I went there, and it was okay, but I experienced fellowship, and I met other Christians that were like Charles, who were true, genuine Christians who lived this out.

They didn't just say they were Christians with their mouth, they lived it, and you could see the wisdom and things that they had, and I was attracted to that. And that went on for about 13 weeks, that class was over, and then Charles got me into another program called The Truth Project, which is put out by Focus on the Family and Dr. DelTack, an amazing program. But when I got in there, it was not come as you are, it was this is what the Bible says, and I didn't like that.

And I would sit, we would watch a video for an hour, and then we would have table discussion, and at the table discussion, I would argue with everyone there and tell them how stupid they were for believing what they, you know, that they believed these things. And I almost got into a couple of fights with those guys, and about three weeks into it, we were walking back to the unit, and Charles just asked me, he says, Brian, why don't you just give them a chance? And I had been asked that question before, and fought it, and fought it, and fought it.

And for whatever reason, I said, okay, Charles. So I went back to my cell that night, and I prayed, okay, God, if I need to believe these things, to have a relationship with you, give me some kind of a sign. And I went to bed that night, and I remember being in a really deep sleep, and I had a nightmare. And in that nightmare, I fell off of a cliff, and I woke up startled out of a nightmare, and kind of, and I looked, and it's really dark in the cells, and we're allowed to have digital clocks in there. And the digital clock with the red numbers in the cell said 3-6-teen. The only Bible verse I'd ever known as a kid at all was John 3-16. And if you know John 3-16, it answers the question that I asked him.

That's exactly right. Yes, you do need to believe those things. And I tried to go back to sleep and just brush it off, but I looked back at the clock, and I felt like it was 3-16 for like 30 minutes. And I'm like, okay, maybe there's something to this. And it was a Sunday morning at 3-16, so I got up and I went to the church services that they offered in the prison, and I went and found my friend Ramon. I always had this idea in my head that Christians were weak, and my friend Ramon was a big black former gang banger that had become a Christian. And there was nothing soft or weak about this guy, so I'm like, okay, I'll go with him. And I'm sitting in the very back row on the very far side as he goes through the sermon, and at the end of the sermon, the pastor does what he calls an invitation. I look at Ramon and I say, what's an invitation? And he goes, he didn't say, oh, that's where you go make a decision for Christ, or you invite Jesus in your heart. He didn't say any of that stuff. He said, if you've got something in your life that's hindering your relationship with God, you can go up there and pray with that man about it.

So I went up there, and I prayed with Chaplain Davis. And to tell you a little about him, he's a hard man, a calloused man, a cowboy. He's a man's man. He's a prison chaplain. He doesn't do hugs.

He doesn't do any of those kind of things. And he grabbed my hand to pray, and I could feel the callouses on his hands. And he slaps me on the shoulder with his other hand, and he says, how can I pray for you?

And I told him, I said, look, I'm not here to make any decisions. I need you to pray that God would remove this callous from my heart, because it's hardened and it's angry, and it's angry towards Christians. So I want him to soften my heart so that the truth can come in. And Chaplain Davis prayed that. And I remember looking up after we were done praying, and he's in front of 130 inmates with tears pouring down his face.

And I knew something was very real about this, and I didn't know how to describe it, but it was very real. And I would later find out that Chaplain Davis and Charles had been praying for me for about a year and a half that I would get saved. And from that moment forward, I began to read my Bible. I read my Bible every single day.

I would get up and read my Bible, read my Bible. I was at every single church service that they offered, any faith-based program they had in that prison. I was there.

There was a huge change. I went from telling these people they were stupid for believing what they did to absolutely believing it, basically overnight. That went on for about a year. And my friends all had pen pals that they were writing when they were in prison. So I prayed and said, all right, God, I'd like to have a pen pal. And I got on the phone with my mom, and she was running a Facebook page for me. She says, you got a friend request from a girl.

I'm like, okay, cool. Who is it? And she goes, do you know a girl named Christina Ewan? I'm like, yeah, I know Christina Ewan.

Why? And she goes, well, she sent you a friend request. She remembered you and that she's been trying to find you on and off for the last ten years. I said, did you tell her I was in prison? Yeah, I told her you were in prison.

She doesn't care. She wants to write you. I'm like, well, that's crazy. So I got her address, and everything we did, all of our correspondence was based on Christ and what God was doing in our lives, and that was it. That went on for several months, and I just knew that this was too crazy for it not to be God lining this up for something bigger. But I was scared to death because she's rejected me so many times in the past. I had to write a letter, and I sat down and wrote this letter and said, look, I feel like this is kind of something that may be meant to be.

I know it's asking a lot of you, but this is meant for something more. I get the letter back, and I remember hearing it at mail call and seeing that the letter was from Christina, knowing that the answer was going to be inside of that envelope. I opened the envelope and pulled out the letter and began to read it.

In the very first paragraph, she said, Brian, I've been thinking the exact same things, and I know God wants me to be with you and that I'm supposed to be here for you through this time and that we're meant to be together. I remember reading that sitting in prison, and I could have floated up the steps to go back to my cell. It was amazing. But I put in for a halfway house about six months after that. So I ended up getting accepted to that program, my very first time putting in for a halfway house, which almost never happens with the severity of my sentence and the size and scope of my sentence. So it was a very, very tough two years, but I graduated, and Christina was there for the graduation. The first visit I was allowed to go on, actually, before I graduated, Christina and I got married. We eloped. I guess you could say we got married at my grandma's house. So my wife and I now have three daughters, plus my stepson, Brennan, who is an absolute stud, brilliant, smart kid, does very well in sports. My girls are three years old, is Gracie.

Two-year-old is Reagan, and our one-year-old is Abigail, and we have another one on the way. So not only do I have, and this is kind of a cool caveat to the story, I've got a little piece of property with a little house and the wife of my dreams and beautiful children, four beautiful children, about to be five. But I just moved my mom's, she has a camper, and I just moved her camper onto my property. And my mom, who I had obviously all that resentment and animosity towards, she now lives on my property, and she's meemaw to the kids, and she got saved about two years ago. And she's a completely different person.

So, again, like, I could not have sat in jail five, six, seven years ago, whatever it was, and said, okay, in five or ten years, this is what I want, and ever thought it would be what it is now. And what a story, folks. And I'm tearing up here because I know Brian, and to imagine that that can happen in people's lives, anyone listening, having someone in prison, someplace that you just don't think they can come back from, my goodness, it's possible. And we do faith-based stories here, folks. We don't shy away from it. There are all kinds of things that can get people out of a jam, and sometimes it's God and sometimes it's a secular counselor, but we don't shy away from the religious aspect of people's lives here on this show.

We don't preach, we don't proselytize, but we don't remove it. And, my goodness, Brian Dawson's story is unimaginable without God. And send your stories, by the way, if you have a story like this, and I know you do, because, my goodness, this country is filled with stories like this, and we're tired of the negative stories. We want to hear stories of real hope, not the silly kind. Brian Dawson's story, a beautiful family, a beautiful story of love and redemption, here on All American Stories.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-17 20:31:38 / 2023-02-17 20:48:25 / 17

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