Many of those who allowed Jesus to touch their hearts and convert have shared their stories in recent years. One example is John Pridmore who shared the story of his dark past and his conversion in his book From Gangland to Promised Land.

He described the moment of his conversion like this:

“I sat alone and found myself thinking how my life was completely messed up. I felt very depressed and empty… Then I heard what I can only describe as a voice. It was telling me the worst things I had ever done… It was the voice of God, my conscience. The breath was going out of me. It was as if I was dying, and an incredible fear gripped me. I’m going, to hell, I thought. I fell to my knees, and tears began to well up in my eyes. ‘Give me another chance!’ I cried.

Suddenly, I felt as if someone’s hands were on my shoulders and I was being lifted up. An incredible warmth overpowered me and the fear immediately evaporated. At that moment I knew — really knew,not just believed — that God was real.… Then I did something I had never done before: I prayed. ‘God, up to now, all I’ve done is take from you in my life and now I want to give.’ What I can only describe as an awesome feeling of love consumed me.… Then I knew for the first time in my life that I was loved by God.

Up until then, I had always thought I was worthless and it didn’t matter whether I lived or died. Looking back across my life — a journey, you might say, from gangland to promised land — I’ve come to understand that we just need to ask Jesus to reveal himself in our hearts and let us know that he’s real and that he loves us. I did, and he replied.

To anyone who is skeptical about this, I would simply say, just do it. If someone had said this to me when I was involved in all that criminal activity, I would probably have laughed and told them they were living in cloud-cuckoo-land. Now I know that Jesus is real, not through reading books or studying theology, but from personal experience.”

Fr. Joseph Dovari