Sad Man

From Gangster To God

Timothy Rau


FREEDOM… July 2, 2008. My testimony of the amazing Grace and Faithfulness of Jesus Christ, His Saving Power, and how my life was changed forever because of His Love.

To outsiders I grew up a seemingly normal life, attending Church and being enrolled in Christian private schools from grade school until 7th grade. My life was far from normal though. My family was very dysfunctional. My mom who was battling drug and alcohol addiction left our home and our family behind when I was 4 years old, and for the most part was absent from our lives over the next 11 years. I remember there being a whole lot of chaos and turmoil in our home growing up, but I also remember times being very happy when I was in school, where I was brought up to know who The Lord Jesus Christ was.

I had been exposed to marijuana and alcohol at the age of 6 where it was frequently used in my home by my older siblings, and as I grew older using drugs and alcohol would become a sure and destructive way I learned to escape the pains in life that I was about to endure as I hit my teenage years. I lost 5 family members from 1983 to 1987. I was 11 years old when tragedy struck for the first time, my Grandfather who I was very close to lost his life to cancer, and two years later in 1985 my Grandmother passed away after spending a short period of time in a convalescent home.

The worst of all these tragedies and turning point in my life happened in 1986 when my brother Brian, who I loved with all my heart was stabbed and killed while high on drugs and committing a crime. He was only 20 years old. It was by far the worst year of my life. The next few years would soon become the darkest years of my childhood as one after another, the people who I loved lost their lives, and I fell into a severe depression that I could not overcome. My brother Brian had battled drug and alcohol addiction from an early age and was never able to get a grip on his life. Five months after my brother was killed my stepmom whom I was very close to died also, from lung cancer, and six months after that my mom also died from cancer (a brain tumor).

At that point I had totally lost my will to live and stopped caring about life altogether. I turned to a life of alcohol and drug addiction, to escape my pain, not knowing how much destruction it would cause me as the years went on. I lost all touch with God, and Jesus became just a distant memory. He was the only life I had really known that brought me any kind of happiness as a child. My life became very dark after that, and year after year as my addiction progressed, my life continued to spiral downward into despair.

I used drugs on a daily basis, and the more I tried to fix myself, the angrier I became and the more hopeless I was. I rebelled against all authority and began getting in trouble with the law, first in and out of juvenile halls, jail, and then finally ending up in prison. I moved to Arizona in 1994, trying to get clean and a handle on my life, and after only a few months I fell back into my drug addiction. I was arrested 2 times which landed me in jail and on my 3rd jail term in 1995 I was looking at 3 years in prison when the court system in Phoenix, AZ. gave me an alternative. Instead of a 3 year prison term they offered me 1 year in a program called Teen Challenge. I took their offer knowing it would get me out of going to prison and after waiting a few more months in jail I was released to enter the program.

I know now it was The Lord trying to save my life and spare me from any more destruction, but I had no idea that it was God, and I made another horrible mistake by running away from Teen Challenge after only a couple days. I was now on the run and going to prison for sure. One night a few months later, two guys I had met on the streets of Phoenix Arizona who I had been getting high with, pulled an armed robbery and I ended up in possession of the vehicle they took in the crime. I was finally caught about two weeks later and charged with the theft of the car that was used in the armed robbery, and after sitting in jail for 2 weeks I was called to court at 4 in the morning to be arraigned again for new charges. I was now charged with the armed robbery I had no idea had even happened.

All my bad choices had finally caught up with me. There was no way for me to prove my innocence, and I was told by my public defender if I went to trial I would lose and I would spend up to 35 to 37 years in prison. I had no choice but to sign a “no contest” plea agreement for ten and a half years that the district attorney had offered me, instead of taking a chance on a jury trial. I stood up in front of the judge on sentencing day and told him they were sending me to prison for a crime I did not commit, but because I had signed the plea agreement, the judge said there was nothing he could do but sentence me to what I had agreed to.

I spent the next 10 years of my life in prison, from 1997 to 2006. Survival of the fittest in that world, to stay alive, meant joining a gang, doing things I didn’t want to do, but had to, to show loyalty, and to survive. I learned real quick in prison that you had to be strong no matter what the cost and do whatever you were asked to do by the older convicts. I did most of my time on high level prison yards, around the most violent and dangerous men society had to offer. Stabbings, brutal assaults and even death were a normal part of everyday life in prison, a place filled with darkness, where there was very little hope at all.

In 2001, 4 years into my prison term, tragedy struck my life again, my dad who was all I had left, died at the age of 64 of ALS (Lou Gherigs Disease). My dad was the one person who was always there for me no matter what happened. I loved him with all my heart and it was another battle I had to face, trying to deal with his death in a place where you never show any kind of weakness or emotion. It was one of the hardest things I had to go through and it took me further into my drug addiction and darkness shooting up meth and heroine as an escape from my pain.

I was finally released from prison in 2006. I had made it out without a scratch thanks to God who I didn’t even know was watching over me, who I know now had made sure I was okay every moment I was there. When I got home, I was so lost, the outside world that I had lost touch with for so many years was very different. I was having a really hard time adjusting, not knowing how to function in the real world, and I struggled, living without hope, still in darkness without The Lord.

Eight months later I was back on drugs and back in prison for a year violation, and then released again in the later part of 2007. In May 2008, back on drugs again, I was arrested and faced another felony. I sat in Ventura County Jail in California, this time when I went to court I was told by my public defender that I was being struck out by the state of California, that this case was my third strike, and I was going to be spending the rest of my life in prison. I had nothing more to lose, my life was completely over. I would never see the light of day outside of prison walls and all I could think every day was that I would never see the real world again, that I was gonna die in prison, and that there was nothing after that.

I started to have thoughts of suicide, rather than be locked up for the rest of my life. I had done too much time already and didn’t want to live like that anymore. It seemed at that time my only option was to just end it all, to be done with life, until I walked up to a table outside of my jail cell and picked up the only book that was sitting there, “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren…..A light went on and I instantly remembered back in 2003 I had a neighbor in prison who was a Christian. His name was Brian and he had tried a few times to talk to me about God and once tried to get me to read that book, but I was too caught up in the politics of prison and gang life at that point to even consider anything he was saying.

That night when I saw the same book on that table in county jail, and after everything that was happening in my life, I knew the word coincidence was more than just a word, and that’s when The Lord began to speak to me and to set me free. I was completely blown away, because I knew without a doubt that God was real and I knew He had a plan for my life and wanted me to live to fulfill that plan. Only God could have set things up the way that it happened.

So that night, in that county Jail I took that book to my cell, and after a few days, on July 2, 2008, I prayed and asked God to forgive me, and asked Jesus to save my life, and the most profound thing that has ever happened to me, came to life at that very moment inside of me. I wept tears that I had kept inside for so many years, for all the pain I had endured, for every wrong I had ever done, and for the way I had been living my life. Jesus freed me that day, freed from all that was weighing me down, freed me from my past, and from everything that was hurting me inside.

I had been told by doctors in the past that I was bi-polar and a manic depressive, and that I needed to be on medication, I guess that’s why for so many years I used drugs to try to correct it, and I had lived with the truth of what they labeled me with for 22 years, never believing I would feel normal again unless I was high, but the day I gave my life to Jesus Christ was the day He began to heal me and I am free from chronic depression today because of it.

Jesus touched my life and my heart that night in a way that no one ever could. He got through to me, and my life would be changed forever in the blink of an eye because of it. My heart started to soften as I started praying and reading The Bible, slowly learning what I knew as a child growing up so long ago, that Jesus loved me and that I had a Father in Heaven who cared deeply about me and cared about my life. I started to realize that I wasn’t ever alone and that Jesus was there with me, that He had always been there with me, even in the darkest times of my life when I thought I was all alone, He was there, and I knew that God was about to help me turn my life around for good. He was showing me who I really was and who I would grow to be.

God touched my life in that county jail in such a powerful way that I knew I would never be the same again. After about a month God started speaking to me about Teen Challenge and I wondered why. I realized as the months went by that God completes what He starts and that nothing is chance or coincidence. He never gave up on me and He had a plan for my life that was soon about to come to pass, a future and a hope which included the Ministry of Teen Challenge. After The Lord saved me I started to look back on all the years of my life and I could see clearly, all the times He was there, all the times He saved me from death, all the times He made sure I would survive. I know now it wasn’t chance or coincidence that “The Purpose Driven Life” was there on that table that night for me.

As time went on The Lord changed my heart and that hard convict that I had become died, gone forever. A new creation in Christ. I found the truth and it gave me more happiness and love than I had ever felt before in my entire life. It was complete freedom. I was sitting in jail facing a life sentence, and it didn’t matter to me anymore, I was free and starting my whole life over again from that day forward. Eight months later after many prayers, going back and forth to court, trusting God, I was given back my life with a second chance. The Lord knew my heart, He knew I wanted to give up that life forever and He helped me to do that. Instead of life in prison, I got mercy in that courtroom by the Grace of God. Two of my strikes were struck down, the strikes I had received in Arizona, and I ended up being offered a plea agreement for 2 and a half years in prison instead of a life sentence.

It was a miracle, a gift that went beyond my understanding. In July of 2009 I was released from prison and started my new life outside those prison walls forever. August 2010, I was released from parole a year and 11 months early by God’s Will, another miracle, and in September 2010, I entered through the doors of Teen Challenge to finish what The Lord had started in my life 15 years earlier. I graduated Teen Challenge in December 2011 and was given the opportunity by The Lord to attend The Teen Challenge Ministry Institute, a one year Bible college and staff training center that prepares students for Ministry and to work for Teen Challenge helping others with drug addiction.

While I was there at TCMI in 2012 The Lord spoke to me that I would have a baby girl named Hannah. I had no idea when that would come to pass but I did know that God is Faithful and it was gonna happen. I graduated the Bible college on December 23rd that same year and was called by The Lord to Teen Challenge of the Hawaiian Islands where I would help other struggling drug addicts change their lives through the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ. I joined a prison ministry that goes into state jails and prisons to deliver the message of salvation to all who will answer the call of God.

The next couple years would be very difficult for me as I found that life was not as easy as I imagined it would be and after 4 years clean and sober I turned to alcohol instead of Jesus and that one drink cost me a couple years of very difficult struggles trying to get my life back on track. Through it all, The Lord never left me and continued to be who He is, True and Faithful. I met my beautiful wife Micaela in 2012 at TCMI and had no idea then because we were only friends that she would be my wife 4 years later.

In 2013 doctors told my wife she would never have children due to a medical condition and February 2016, Hannah Kia Rau was born, The Lord’s promise fulfilled, a miracle showing that “All Things Are Possible With God”. My life is truly a miracle and an incredible story that Jesus wrote straight from His Heart and against all odds I continue to watch as God helps me overcome the obstacles we all face in life. God has accomplished so much in my life and as I continue to trust in Him, I know for sure the best is yet to come.

No matter who you are or where you’ve been in life or what you have done, Jesus will answer your call, saving anyone who comes to Him. “Anyone who calls on The Lord Will Be Saved”. My life has been changed forever because of what God did for me. I went from a 22 year drug addict, ex-convict, who was hopeless and had nothing to live for, to someone who was saved by the Love of Jesus Christ and given a brand new life. I have a hope and a future today I never dreamed I could have, and it’s all because of Him.

The greatest thing in this world is to know and experience the Love and Forgiveness that Jesus has for us, and that no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done in the past, He will help us turn our lives around if we let Him, and the best part is He takes us any way we come to Him. Today and everyday I’m grateful that God reached out to me before it was too late….I am a living testimony of The Power Of Jesus Christ to save and change a life that was lost with no hope. Nothing is impossible for God…..

“For I Know The Plans I Have For You Declares The Lord, Plans To Prosper You And Not To Harm You, Plans To Give You Hope And A Future”
Jeremiah 29:11


Giving your life to Jesus Christ, putting your faith and trust in Him alone is a decision only you can make. It is the most important decision you will ever make in your life. You’re eternal destination hangs in a balance by the decision you make concerning the message of salvation. “Today Is The Day Of Salvation”. If you would like to know the Love of God and begin a true relationship with Jesus Christ today, you can start by calling on Him right now in prayer, asking Him to come into your life, to be you’re Lord and Savior.

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Romans 10:8?-?13 NKJV

Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.”


{Father I want to know You . I believe You sent Jesus, to die as payment for my sins. I believe You raised Him from the dead, so that I could have Eternal Life. I confess to You that I have sinned against You and I’m asking You to forgive me of all my sin and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I confess to you today that Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus, come into my life now and be My Savior and Lord. I give my life to You. Baptize me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit and empower me to live a holy and blameless life. Its in Your Name Lord Jesus I pray, Amen}

If you just prayed that prayer from your heart, and you have made a decision to follow Jesus Christ and live for God, you are now on the road to eternal life. I encourage you to tell someone right away about your New Life in Christ and also to find a Bible believing church. I also encourage you most importantly to get a Bible and begin reading in the New Testament. Spend time in Gods Word. God Bless You…


  1. Billy The Kid 12/17/2016
  2. Pat 12/17/2016
  3. Tony Guerra 12/29/2016
  4. Dr. S.J. Wary 3/14/2017

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