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August 4, 2021 1:00 am
From football star, to crack addict, to a mighty missionary... Stu is joined by evangelist and Pastor Michael Bowen of Sons & Daughters of Thunder Ministries to hear his testimony of redemption - how he went from addict in a prison cell to passionate missionary redeemed through Jesus Christ.
Hello this is Matt slick from the match look like podcast right defend the Christian faith and lay out our foundation of the truth of God's word for chosen Truth Network podcasts starting in just a few seconds.
Enjoy it, share it, but most of all, thank you for listening and for choosing The Truth Podcast Network. This is the Truth Network from football start to crack addict to mighty missionary, a part of changing a whole country for Jesus. He is in the house right now he is Michael Bowen, the founder and head of sons and daughters of thunder ministries and all my liberation center for Liberia. You folks are in for a treat Michael straight ahead and restock what incursion I spent at lunch yesterday, you walked in your late lunch and then when you just open your mouth. We all like forgot about her food as you fed us with an amazing message will cost on your life. Submit thanks for hanging out with us today. Thank you so much for having me here to North Carolina Winston-Salem this area and and I just really enjoy the hospitality and and in the and the opportunity be able to come here to this great network to be able to share what Jesus has done in my life and in hopes that it will touch someone else that they may hear this story, and they may have been identify with it and they too can be set free in Jesus a man and you hail from the Dallas Texas area right ran that neck of the woods. Yes, with your testimony and you your people. It's really remarkable because if we win if we if we zoomed in to certain parts of your life mean they are laying on the ground is a crack addict. Your second time in prison or is catching you huge touchdowns in a major college football program or growing up in a home of privilege really and then fast forward to preaching the gospel in the darkest, most dangerous crack infested areas in Liberia Africa in order start well we weave we start and begin everything with Jesus.
Because the only I can only do what what I do what the Lord is that has blessed me to do through Jesus Christ and in its his power and and it's his will and purpose for me in my life and and I'm just stepping into that. I just made myself available to him. I just run my life to Jesus. Is it have your way.
Me, a man so Michael Bowen's with this Michael Tellis, how it started, let's let's let's here. Look just as you share your testimony with us and will spend time on that this first segment devotional love hearing his story and please share with other folks and then we'll get into what you're doing now in your ministry and going into literally tomb entombed kids, little kids that are pushing drugs in Liberia, the darkest, most dangerous area baptisms. All that but start with with who is Michael Bowen and how did you find Jesus.
Well I grew up in in Dallas Texas in the late 70s early 80s and just a typical suburban life. Both my parents worked hard, college educated, we we we were just provided all the things that you would expect it in in the United States of America for for middle-class family. My dad was very successful in business started his own telecommunications company and he did very well and so so we did get some of the finer things I was provided with some of the niceties of life and so I just had such a good role model. Such good examples for my parents. I grew up in church.
They we went to Bible you know Bible Bible Bible class and in church on Sundays. Growing up, and so you around the face. The word and you are in some you are in an impoverished row row home grown up that you have a lot of privilege on a blessing. A lot of Christ around you can excel on the football field meows a big deal yeah you are in your story now Texas high school football. Eladio idea is that there are Texas high high school football stadiums bigger than college stadiums elsewhere race. There is an in and that was what I really gravitated towards others.
I was a good athlete and be in from Dallas on the Dallas Cowboys, and in watching that the Southern Methodist University Mustangs and in the pony express and Eric Dickerson and Craig James growing up and all that. That's what I dream to be I dream to be a professional football player. Everything that I did was pointed towards football because it was a place where I excelled and and I really enjoyed it and I love the game. I love that the competition and I love the, the, the aggressiveness of it and an interest.
The fighting and in the football and the hard work that you catch that ball your receiver successful receiver doing well in unit with a scholarship to play football, right in 1986 Oslo top high school running backs in the state of Texas and I was able to go to the Southern Methodist University and I started as a true freshman on that team 40. That year was the year of the death penalty where the program was canceled for two years and I transferred from SMU to the University of Georgia and played their 1987 where I became the Allin health award winner for the most outstanding walk-on athlete at the University of Georgia and we were liberty bowl champions finish like 13 to the nation that year. No Kinsey got it you get your career, your ear is really blossoming but then you end up going back to your old the old school. I guess right Diaz if things got better at SMU yeah when they when I saw I was homesick. I was a Dallas kid. I was a Texan born in in in and raised and and I just missed home, and when forced Greg, who is NFL Hall of Famer was hired to resurrect the football program from the ashes of the death penalty. I just really want to go back to my school. That was a school that was my dream to play for this me Mustangs when I saw that opportunity opened up again. I left the University Georgia and finished up at SMU where I had great success in in 1990 I was the office of MVP team captain and also was comped receiver and then in 1991 I was drafted into the Canadian football. The house he went to Canada played up there little bit didn't alert Tellis would have annexed okay well that was that was where the wheels started falling off.
I mean, through my high school years in my college years, I experimented with out with alcohol and I became.
I drink a lot of alcohol just kind of the party scene that everybody that a lot of college kids experience and experiment with it. Also started trying some drugs like ecstasy and cocaine, but I never let it get out of hand because I didn't want to interfere with my greatest love which was football and I knew that that would interfere with that. So I did a lot of guy had a lot of control in the early years of using drugs. Not only do during the off-season, and I would limit it but when I went up to the to Canada.
I went up signed a six-figure contract for two years. Epic update for the Edmonton Eskimos and I started training camp a week in a training camp. They came in and knocked on my door and hand me a paper in and told me that they were no longer interested in playing football there in the hand me a plane ticket told me to go back home and I was devastated. While so your whole life. Everything you've ever worked for.
In one moment, one knock on the door over over gone and I would have invited Michael going to then well what Michael Bowen did was I I I try to find a plan B there was no plan B for Michael Bowen plan a was I was going to go to Canada played there for two years and then you well enough like it always done, but only succeeded in football always had success. I was going to go and this is my plan. I go to years in Canada and then I get on. Then I go into NFL training camp is real close to getting to being of free-agent to the NFL, but I just had a little bit assize issues and they do want take a chance on it also had a goad to the CFL so that was my plan and when that didn't happen for me. I I just really didn't know what to do. I went back to to the United States would back to Dallas and began drinking and using cocaine and I became addicted to crack cocaine at that time real quickly. After I got back to United States ministry so you have a you got something to eat.
It gets worse. The story gets worse and you usually only shows we go take a quick break we get we say there's some really good stuff coming out and there is the organ at Bernie going to the, the, the prison of drugs in the literal prison that brought we come back, and how God is using you Miley how God sent you back to prison to relieve you of the Christ is yes just a great thing or you guys can be blessed by the state to make sure you download this podcast when that comes out your whole thing. You share with your friends. He is the founder and president of the sons and daughters of thunder ministry is Michael Bowen. He's in a house on truth talk and work back to talk to him more about his fall into sin into prison in a drugs and then how he met Jesus Christ and how Christ is change his life. Don't I said I will be right back I'm Stu Epperson right back with Michael Bowen after this. What happens we get stuck what is addiction what happens when tissue all the way to prison and almost to death in Jesus Christ transform the life of someone addicted to crack cocaine can he turn that person into a mighty missionary who's leading thousands to Christ and baptizing people on a holder Condit well I got a guy in here who's a walking miracle in the morning out with in the more like a mirage talking about making his own show is should be doing this and interviewed all these people, but he is Michael Bowen with the sons and daughters of thunder ministry and we left off with our hero, yet you got all the way through coming play for some big Division I football programs in Texas here in Georgia in the liberty bowl getting all these accolades and awards getting a contract with a big CFL team and Canadian football league. The Edmonton Eskimo.
The Edmonton Eskimo Digest.
I would love just to be on a team like that, even if I'm just like a water boy just as the II was a part of the Edmonton Eskimos program is going on that.
So you were there living the dream you got that knock on the door were they let you go and then you crashed hard into the drugs to take us there now see your your back Michael in things got worse and he did to tell us what what happened in the what what is rock-bottom look like for Michael Bono it was that experience well so I go back I had some a good role model with my parents and and I knew the right right way to go the right thing to do. So when I got back to the United States.
I decided well I'm just getting the job have I have a degree in economics, minor finance from SMU and I do really want to be an economist soul, but I decide to go in the sales price. I'm good with that.
I like be talking to people and I think I can I can excel in that and I started to to a few sales jobs and it just wasn't there for me. I wasn't finding the satisfaction and and I just still was was not here. I hurt and and I was disconnected and I had no identity, everything was stripped from me when as I put all my hope in football is it football became my God was my idol at the time I put all my hope in football and and and I was just devastated so that kinda lead into my before I was experimenting with alcohol and drugs already knew already knew I liked him and so I just got deeper and deeper into it and when I took that first hit of crack cocaine.
That was it in real quickly.
That sent me down into being fully completely addicted abandoning everything.
I couldn't work I couldn't do anything.
I just became addicted to crack a crack addict and I would disappear into the inner cities into the ghettos for first four days, then four weeks then for months on end, and I would get lost and nobody would know where I was and I'd be smoking crack and crack houses. I became homeless I would wander the streets became a thief because when you run out of money and you have to have the drugs you have to keep doing the drugs because it keeps you high and you don't because when you're high. You don't have to face the reality of your fallen life and and so that kept me locked and I was shamed guilt and I was going to the drugs to try to cure me of what was going on wrong inside of me yeah and what happened was is the cure became more of the problem when you go to drugs and in nothing worked. And through that time I went to started going to rehabilitation centers, psychiatrist, psychologist, every 12 step program every NASAA CA, you name it. I went to it and nothing would work.
I would to a few mental hospitals when when when that didn't win when the other things didn't start people think I was crazy and would let me interject this for for a lot of parents out there, and a lot of people struggle in your deal with them all the time. This is and how the story was supposed to go no, you grew up in a Christian home Christian parents, Bible study, a good church. You knew all the good things about God, you knew you that you Holly times countless times you're told how much God loves you you you you her.
John 316 is where you are that that it incurs. There's people out there there there is many folks listening right now who have a who have that child in their home who is just addicted and binging and just struggling and this is not how the narrative that Michael Bowen's parents had written or had prayed for, but here you are into the point where now use becoming a legal threat to the society in inter-prison, jail, the bar started anything get in any other day that when when you're addicted to drugs.
You will do anything to get that next hit to get that next hi, I became a thief I stole cars I hide my broken the stores.
I would shoplift Ivan snatch purchase from ladies from time to time, and it was just devastating what my life turned into an and in it, the addiction is so strong and you were so bound to it that you will you lose what you know that the difference between right and wrong and you lose all of that. All that goes out the window and the only thing you do your whole life is whittled down to one selfish desire. How can I get more, how can I get higher and you can't think of anything else.
And so that's what happened and I ended up in high-speed police chases fighting the police going to jail over and over and over again and then finally went to prison for my first time in 2009 in Arizona. I spent two years in Arizona prison when I was released I moved to Texas and have my kids come with me and we started to try to have a new life. I ended I started coaching my son's football.
He was 10, 11, 12 years old. We found great success.
I was his pop Warner football coach and we are champ ship team.
We we didn't get beat and I there I had the level football again and I thought that would do it. I finally got it again now I'm doing that and I really thought I would going to do drugs again. I thought that prison was gonna be to cure Into prison. It was horrible. I'm never going to do drugs again. But over time over I spent about three years and after about three years.
In 2013 I relapsed again on crack cocaine. One night I went to the bar to have a few drinks. When that didn't work enough. I went to the crack house to find some stronger and never return. I've been in my whole life I've been in my children abandoned my job. Everything that I was doing at that time my family members. Nobody knew was for three months until I was pulled over I was living out of my car selling crack smoking crack and then I started shooting methamphetamines in my veins because I didn't care anymore.
I had given up. I had no hope. I just knew there was no way that I was gonna be able to to get out because I thought I'd be a drug addict for life. The only way that I would be able to stop using drugs, is that if I was dead, and that's what what I what I looked at the devil had me convinced that I was hated by her by that I do that I'd let somebody people down that I would never see them again and I would never know anything about my former life, and this is my life I was a drug addict and you better do as much as you can tell you're in because you're gonna die. I believe that in one night I was out driving my car and I got pulled over by the police and they arrested me for six felony counts of theft and they threw me in the back of the police car and I looked up and I said thank you. I cold at night the dead. The night I was captured by God because he knew what he was doing and what the Lord and did I ended up doing a year in prison in Texas and that was when everything changed my life. What happened when I first got to jail I was just trying to kick the drugs it to me a couple weeks to kick the drugs I still have a still just had them all in the end everything but as I started sobering up and coming out the drugs then the Lord started speaking to me, but I felt so shameful and has so much kill and I couldn't face even speaking the Lord. I could go to parking training began to walk. They have dorms. As I began to walk around the dorms. I spent about a week walking you'd see me on all you guys be looking and Michael Bowen was walking laps I was walking I was walking I was walking until I walked myself out could walk anymore.
I finally stopped I walked up to my bunk and a note on my bunk and I prayed to Lord Hudson of the sword. Please forgive me and everything changed so that was the moment that encounter with God. After the second time, and in jail and then prison and the drugs and trying everything.
What changed what happened. Well, that right there. That moment when I went to to him in prayer.
That was just the beginning as I still was so messed up and so broken. I was just such a broken man and and I could ease if I'd gone out of jail that day uploaded and wanting. I probably would've went got high. So it took a little time that was in jail. Then I got moved over to the prison and I was in prison. I just began picking up the word Nasser read the word and the Lord started speaking to me through his word, he started changing me with his word and one night I was in a prison chapel and I walked in the prison chapel and there was a song that was plain worship song by Jason Upton called a better way than God. God knew that it did. I needed along worship song is a 22 minute song I needed 22 minutes to unravel what what had gone on in my life and I was so broken. And in that so he began to speak to me; give your life and I'll show you a better way to stimuli and that song was playing that sounds plain and I was brought into the Holy Spirit brought me in the godly sorrow and the godly sorrow produced the repentance my life. I found myself falling to the ground. I went to the floor and I'm started weeping and crying and asking Lord forgive me and I'm so sorry. I started going to all the things where I chosen this world and chosen other things and that and that I had rejected the Lord and I just and I just started to tell him I said Lord I hate myself I hate this world. I don't want anymore. If I'm in a go smoke crack and I leave you you kill me right now on this floor. You kill me right now I can't do it anymore. But if you save me, I will serve you the rest. The days my life and in that moment I felt mice my soul crack in my spirit be porn out of me and I just empty myself of myself and I was laying on the ground and and and and finally when I had enough enough strength to finally raise it to my to my feet felt present well on the ground in a prison chapel worshiping Jesus. This man was going to serve Christ to hear how that's worked out for you will become backcountry talk more with Michael Bowen's amazing story. After this, don't touch that dial were come back with more truth talking Stu Epperson have you ever hit rock bottom. Have you ever hit rock bottom after being a huge success in life. In sports, and sales in a career have the family grown up in the perfect Christian home and only to find yourself laying on the ground face down in a chapel in a prison. When a bunch of people said this guy's done.
He's an addict he's never gonna change it's over, less the story of Michael Bowen, Michael, that wasn't the end when you were there. That was a new beginning tell us that as you got up off the floor and asked what did God do in your life. In-depth review just join as I'm Stu Epperson this is truth talk, listen to the whole program go back to the will make this a podcast soon and you can hear his whole story and how he ended up in that prison and what God did in his life. But tell us that this universe still kind of in that moment there in that prison chapel take us back there while I was able to gain enough strength to stand up and when I stood up for the first time I felt a peace come over me and I felt his presence, and in that I just knew I had been changed and that I had died out on that floor and I knew that that that something had changed. I didn't know what yet I change but I knew that I was different when I walked out of that room. I got into that word and I read that word every day and and that's all I did for the rest the time I was in prison, morning, noon and night. I was in that word was going to every church service I could as praise and worship in the Lord and study in an object came that word, that word change me and it taught me who I really am in Jesus Christ.
All things passed away. All things become new. And Jesus began to give me instruction on what he wanted me to do and he gave me the name from the ministry sons and daughters of thunder ministries and how would go back into the prisons and help people and give me a blueprint for out for a discipleship pump for men coming out of prison and all that in any gave me a gift of poetry, and believe me I never knew that I would be a poet.
I was to toughen and strong for that, but I idea I am on the poet and his office and I got a book coming out soon.
I got a book Kona coming out called the poetry of addiction. One man's journey into the captivity darkness in hell of addiction and delivers back to his God, Jesus Christ, and and it's just a story of my life and it uncovers the spiritual truths about addiction how diction is seated into us at an early age is fun and excitement and how it seeds itself in and attach itself in our flesh and its you walk in the spirit you live by the desires, your flesh is a treated addictions aren't just limited to drugs or chemical substances.
It's anything that you choose to medicate yourself escape with or change the way you feel it could be eating.
It could be gambling it could be drugs and could even be overworking anything that is separating you from your purpose in God. He did argue that you had in addition to sports to football. I did well yes I do diction a football absolutely and everything that went on that. Actually I made football my God football was idle. I put all my love, trust and hope in football and I couldn't save me. I didn't know that it was disappointing.
It let me down just like everything in this world, let me down. I checked all the boxes fame, wealth, money, success all the things that this world tells you that's gonna make you happy and I had a mall and I checked all the boxes and I was miserable inside. None of it brought me what I was truly looking for until I laid on my foot on the floor and I gave my life and serve my life to Jesus Christ. So any field me with himself. That's it. That's what I was missing with him in me hallelujah it's only about the Michael Bowen that walked out of that prison at some point and then but but but how many guys walk out of prison, but they go back to prison. Mail Online, not Isaac, not as a prisoner I does it is up as a preacher and a 9 1/2 tells about that and then through through that ministry and then to God restoring you and your children and whatnot and then you end up over the pond in Liberia of all places. Yeah okay well when I when I got out of prison I went to to the halfway house. It was it was a Christian stay calm Christian sober living program is Texas reach out ministries in Austin Texas. I went there and it just a mere little structure my life I we had Bible studies I got plugged into a church, I got baptized. I do feel with the Holy Spirit and it just in my life just began to change. I began to serve in the church and the Lord surrounded me with great men that were my mentors one after another after another after another and they just started pointing to me and I just kept saying yes and every opportunity I had to go hear the word or serve somebody or do something, just maybe stronger, and in that time I went back to I went to Bible college, badgers, and on the second batch is in theology and then I was licensed and ordained as a minister the gospel of Jesus Christ and in that I went back I started going back into the Texas prison system and I started preaching to those men in prison. Tell them about how I used to be in the same room and I actually preach in the very same room where I laid on that floor in the Texas prison in Austin Texas where I stir my life to Jesus Christ. I preach to those men in that same room and I walk over that spot where I lay on the floor and I died out and I jump up and down on that spot before and I said this is the grave of my old man. This is where he is buried he's got a life sentence. He's never coming out hallelujah and I tell them that Jesus would do the same thing for you that he did for me. But you have to surrender your life to him while you're going back to the same places and you are locked in your cellmates with these people you are going back to talk to them about how Christ can set you free is a fascinating two and a very gracious man a mall and he's listening to the Truth Network right now and he loves Arnett. Recently a six page singlespaced handwritten letter that I have read that I've arrived. You brought me tears on her right back to you, butů Of the Truth Network in prison, and God's use the Truth Network the sermons the messages programs like this to touch him, but is accessing a look at that letter from Alan.
He is more free and at some level Michael Bowen when Christ had set you free, whom the son sets free is free indeed. John 1832, 33, 34 just in Michael Bowen Allen you and him are were more free and are more free locked behind bars then so many of people on the outside who I have who don't have Jesus who are slaves to sin who are in the bondage of of death and on their way to a crisis eternity list what I thought. This is when I knew my life was changed forever is when I found the freedom and peace in the most unlikely place behind concrete walls and iron bars in a prison and I was the freest I'd ever been in my life because like you said, whom the son sets free is free indeed and he set me free and I was free because from that point on I did not have the addiction in me. There's no addiction in Jesus Christ and went, what he did. If he delivered me from addiction and what he did.
He says I'm gonna replace your desire for drugs and alcohol with a desire for me while I need to change it. He flipped it and now I desire him. I still have the same struggles that everybody had. I stood the same struggle that I had before I had Jesus. When I would go to drugs but I would choose to use alcohol and drugs for for that but now I treaty I go to Jesus. And why would I ever go back to drugs I have Jesus while so you went from selling drugs to sharing Jesus thrive only one who can satisfy the little one who the where the well never runs dry.
Living water, the bread of life and then with coving all the chaos you still go to prison. As you still are ministering but there were all kinds of restrictions. God sent you of all places to live.
We don't have a lot of time left is our last segment that we got Michael Bowen in the house that the founder of the sons and daughters of thunder ministries which I take what someone in that ministry. Gotta own a motorcycle mall of the neighbor that is a powerful name, which is what God is doing for your ministry but now you're baptizing people you're going of the most dangerous places in the world you find out these kids or are these young kids orphans, whatever their dealing drugs and in their in the in the cemeteries in Liberia were airborne says even the Christians like no we don't go there, but why would God call Michael Bowen.
There well that's just it.
It's so amazing what the Lord has done for me from that respect. When coving he had and it does all the text prison for close down and it was at that exact time that library open up for me.
I had met a gentleman to Facebook a pastor in Liberia and we became friends and he actually came of the United States in Dallas and was preaching a church invited me over there to to to speak to him and and and we ended up preaching got at the church and when I was over there. He invited me to come to a crusade in Liberia and I said okay yeah great. I'll do it and so that happened and before my first trip over there. He was telling me about those logos.
The solos are the, the forgotten ones in society. Most of them are the left over childhood soldiers from the blood he Civil War that they had to deal with with great atrocities in an devastation in their own lives, and when the war was over and the disarmament came they had nowhere to go because they were orphaned and and and though the warlords got them addicted to drugs so they are addicted to drugs. They went into this 13 acre cemetery call Palm Grove Cemetery on center Street in the middle of Monrovia, Liberia, so the pastor tell me about these people. They actually live in the tombs they broke up in the terms they live in the tombs and deal drugs and and and do the drugs with the button within the bones of the tombs and in so I heard the story and it touched my heart and I told the pastor I said when I come over there. I want to go there. He said you want to go there. I said yes I want to go there.
He said but nobody goes there. I said you set it up on going there so we went over there and we set up a sound system we have service and it was the most incredible service. These people came out of the gathers a ghetto on the edge of the cemetery and the people came out of the tombs and they came out of the ghetto and him and when we brought food and we worship and praise the Lord and they were worshiping and praising the Lord and and in the resist a mighty move of God.
That was the first trip and then when I came back I went back and specifically visited the different ghettos and and cemeteries, and we did more of it and were just doing you're baptizing these kids. Yeah, we baptized 70 on the first trip on bullying, and it was just incredible sure website. This is remarkable. The story goes on to me literally. I have it. I talked to last two days there's more there is no there's more. It's been a week you had a whole crowd in the Truth Network back in the halls and what comes out there hearing you talk when you start share is like the book of acts right off. What's the website for the son, website, artist of thunder www.sonsanddaughtersofthunder.org and then are denied. I have a note of the ministry website for the Liberia portion of it which is WWW Dutch liberation center Liberia.or okay now it's all that site. You're also social media Michael banquet Michael Bowen, Facebook, Instagram ideology all those years later and then will take a picture as you little video here again because people need to know about what you're doing you need to be supporting missions they need to go with you and I know you've touched a nerve in blessing people pastor's church as it may want to have you come share your testimony, which is remarkable.
Thank you for just taking the time that analysis today. Yeah, thank you so much encouragement would give God all the glory and and I just my my my message to you is is give Jesus a chance. I did and it changed my life.
I promise you, you will not be disappointed if you give your life to Jesus Christ, amen.
This those are words of Michael Bowen and hear his whole story we just gone through to just join us listen to the podcast. Listen to the whole thing will be out soon. His book will be out soon and you can learn more about his ministry at his website. So go there will put a link to our stay.
God bless you Michael what you going to sell my God bless everybody listening. We love you so much year and I just love the Truth Network. This is distant, awesome instrument in the hands of Almighty God. This is the Truth Network