I was raised with the classic silver spoon in my mouth. I was used to privilege, so as an adult, my biggest concern became getting to Dad’s money before he blew it. I wasn’t fast enough.
Dad died in a veterans’ hospital without a penny to his name. I decided that would never happen to me, and I set out to secure the things the world offered, heedless of the cost to me or others.
At age 16, I got a girl pregnant, and we married. After high school, I headed off to college, where I met a man who taught me how to cheat at cards. With his help, I became a professional gambler. I put myself through college by taking money with my deck of 52.
Upon college graduation, I divorced my wife, abandoned my child, and focused on advancing my career. I found another woman to marry who’d let me do whatever I wanted.
Because of my gambling reputation, I was invited to Las Vegas as a guest. I was immediately impressed by the endless supply of money and women, the limousines, the power, and the fountain in the middle of my suite. If I could connect to all this, my life would be fine, I thought.
One evening, I went to the baccarat table where the heavy-duty players gambled with money instead of chips. Millions of dollars were on that table, and I watched a man lose 200,000 of them in twenty minutes.
“You don’t know what you’re doing, do you?” I asked him after a few drinks. He called me a wise guy and invited me across the street to Caesars Palace.
The minute we walked through the doors, people took notice. Blackjack dealers glanced up, and crowds parted as we went to the baccarat table. Once seated, the man whispered in the croupier’s ear. Immediately, the table was cleared and the gambling limit removed. The man ordered $50,000 as comfortably as you might order a glass of milk. Then he handed me the money, and told me to play!
I hit a hot streak and, within 15 minutes, won over a quarter of a million dollars. My new friend became my godfather. He quickly connected me with the underworld, and I began wholesaling Mafia money nationwide.
Despite my new, illegal connections, I continued as the manager of a major corporation in Houston. My coworkers knew nothing of my double life, but that would soon change.
Increasingly out of control, I chased every whim of my heart. One day while speaking with a woman from Kansas City on the phone, I asked her what she wanted out of life. When she replied “power and money,” I was on the next plane to meet her. At dinner, I suggested we get married. It didn’t matter that I had a wife of 12 years back home. Life was about me and what I wanted.
I flew home and informed my wife I was leaving. Then I got into my Cadillac, drove back to Kansas City, picked up this woman, and moved to Denver. There I became the CEO of a multimillion-dollar international corporation.
I had a limousine, an unlimited expense account, diamond rings, Rolexes, gold jewelry, and anything else I wanted. And I had power, both corporately and in the underworld.
Yet I found myself wondering, What’s next? Is this it?
I had no answer, so I set a new goal. I would be a nationally-ranked racquetball player. Moving up in this sport was fun and exciting, but like with everything else, the thrill of winning eventually faded, and emptiness returned.
No one knew how lonely and miserable I was. My third wife got tired of my shenanigans and left for another man. It’s only by God’s grace that I didn’t put out a contract to have her killed.
I soon met Peggy, and we married. At the same time, I launched a new enterprise to cater to “powerful” men like me who wanted “more in life”—a brothel called Fantasy Island. It became one of the largest prostitution houses in the country.
One day, I took Peggy to Las Vegas so she could see how people catered to my every whim. I waltzed in and took her to the same baccarat table where the insanity had begun years earlier. Ironically, that’s where I was when my attorney called to tell me the Feds had raided Fantasy Island. There was a warrant out for my arrest.
I flew back to Denver and was arrested. Incredibly, I received only probation. To me, that just meant, “Don’t get caught again.”
With my double life now exposed on national news, I was fired from my day job. But that didn’t matter. I went into the executive search business and quickly made top dollar again. I had escaped prison and continued to win at life—but inside, I knew I wasn’t right.
For years, there had been only one place where I really felt good, and that was at Lost Valley Ranch, a beautiful community in the Colorado mountains.
Every time I went there, I felt great. But every time I drove home, the reality of my pitiful life hit me hard. I didn’t know why the place was so special or what it was about the people there that made them so different.
I remember being at the ranch on a random Easter Sunday and deciding to do what people do on Easter. I went to church. I rode my horse out on the meadow where a young man named Bob Foster was preaching a sermon.
“There’s a difference between happiness and inner peace,” he said. “Happiness is like the smell of a new car, a new dating relationship, closing a big business deal, illicit drugs, or sex. You get high and feel good, but the feeling doesn’t last. Peace is different.”
I knew the kid was right. I had achieved, received, performed, and climbed my whole life but for what? I’d feel settled and happy for a while, but the void always returned—every time.
How could I have this lasting peace Bob preached about?
He answered my question by explaining that peace only comes through a personal relationship with Christ. Whatever that meant, it was not the answer I wanted. I cursed, got on my horse, rode out of the meadow, and drove back to Denver and my crazy life.
In God’s goodness, He didn’t let me get away. He chased me down. Suddenly, my life was full of people telling me about the person of Jesus Christ and the peace He offers. I responded with mockery and insults.
I’m sure many walked away believing they’d failed, but they didn’t. To this day, I can tell you their names, what they looked like, what they wore, and most importantly, what they said. God used every person to plant a seed in my prideful heart.
Take Paul and Kathie Grant, for example. Paul, a Jewish believer in Christ, patiently shared his faith in Jesus with me on the racquetball court. Laughing behind his back, I pretended to be interested.
For months, Dr. Grant answered my questions. He didn’t realize I was deliberately engaging him to make him late for work. What a stupid fool! I thought. How can this idiot sit here and let me do this when he has a waiting room full of patients?
Yet Paul was my first true friend. When the arrest came down on my house of prostitution, he was the only one who called to make sure I was okay. Other “friends” called to ensure their names remained anonymous or to inquire where they could find the girls who’d worked at Fantasy Island—but Paul called for me.
Eventually, Paul invited Peggy and me to go to church. We went, and Paul and Kathie took us to their home after the service. I didn’t want to stay long—I had $100,000 riding on the day’s sporting events. But they were our friends, so…
We talked awhile and shared pieces of our life stories. Their stories always ended up back at something about God. As we left, I told Peggy, “Let’s go home and have a drink. That stuff’s fine for them, but I’m not interested.” I rejected God’s message once again.
Meanwhile, Colorado’s Lakewood Police Department was dissatisfied with my probation deal. Determined to bring me to justice, they sent an attractive undercover policewoman my way. She offered to sell me a stolen television and implied that she “came with it.” I gave her $200 and was arrested.
Fear hit me as I sat in jail over the weekend. Violating my probation could mean eight years of prison. I began to cry, not because I was repentant, but because I was panicked.
Back at home and awaiting my trial, I imagined ways to escape my impending doom. Drugs and alcohol could give temporary relief, but I knew they’d only bring more problems. My money would sustain life on the run, but where would I go? I considered suicide.
God used my unbelieving wife to save my life. She suggested I call the man who had married us—a Christian pastor.
Her suggestion angered me. I didn’t want that stuff in my life! But the Holy Spirit was more powerful than my arrogance, and I called that pastor and told him I wanted inner peace.
The next day, I drove 85 miles to his little country church, and at 10:00 a.m. on March 4, 1981, I came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Immediately, God took hold of my life and flipped it upside down.
The first evidence of His presence happened on my drive down the mountain from my meeting with that pastor. I began to think of my daughter, Tammy, whom I had abandoned 23 years earlier. It was my first unselfish thought ever.
Incredibly, there was a message from her waiting for me on my home answering machine. She said the strangest thing: “I saw your name in the papers from all your arrests; I’d like to meet you.”
When we met, I immediately asked her forgiveness. She responded kindly. Incredibly, the Lord gave me the privilege of leading her to Him.
With my charges, I fully expected to go to prison. But the judge miraculously dismissed my case and even barred it from further prosecution at the district level. I walked out of court free to the world, but more importantly, Christ had freed me from my sins.
I began praying for an opportunity to return to the Lakewood Police Department and share how Christ had changed my life. God provided my heart’s desire.
The assistant chief of police was having lunch with colleagues when my name came up. Wary of the news that I had changed, he declared, “Even God couldn’t forgive that man.”
Someone challenged him to find out, so he arranged a meeting. “I’ve come to see if what you’ve found is truth,” he told me as we sat down. After hearing my testimony, we held hands and prayed together.
Three months later, this man who had orchestrated my arrest introduced me to the undercover policewoman whose sting had led to my arrest. She is a dedicated Christian and now a close friend.
My life continued to change with God in it, and I soon became the chief chaplain for the Colorado State Patrol and the DEA. I held more credentials than most officers. God also began sending me into prisons to minister to juveniles, men, and women. With God, all things are possible.
I’ve not been the same since I surrendered my life and will to Jesus. The Prince of Peace has filled my heart and made me whole. He has freed me from my empty way of life, and my chief desire now is to share God’s good news of salvation with the world. I want people everywhere, including you, to experience the transformative power of His love.
Don’t settle for the temporary highs of this world. God’s peace is available through a relationship with His Son, Jesus. My prayer for you is that “you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God” (Ephesians 3:19 NLT).
If you’re ready to do that, pray with me: “Heavenly Father, I am a sinner in need of a Savior. Forgive me for my sin. I believe You sent Your Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for me and that He rose again. I give You my life. I desire Your will above my own. Father, give me peace and make me whole. Give me your Holy Spirit to help me live as You desire. I ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen.”
BILL FAY is a graduate of Denver Seminary and a former chief chaplain for the Colorado State Patrol and DEA. He has spoken cross-denominationally for 40 years. His best-selling book, Share Jesus without Fear, has been translated into 54 languages. It provides practical tools to present the compelling message of God’s saving grace. Visit sharejesuswithoutfear.com to watch videos on how to uniquely share your faith.