Welcome!

See your:
Prayers,
Journal,
Subscriptions, and
Discussions

Login | Register

Crystal Cathedral

Watch the Hour of Power online and on television (Saturday at 6PM PST on TBN, Sunday at 8AM EST/PST on Lifetime)

Guest Interviews

Bill Dallas

Edited By NA

2064 08/23/09

Bill Dallas (BD) is the founder and CEO of the Church Communication Network, a satellite and internet communications company that serves over 6,000 churches across North America. After graduating from Vanderbilt University, Bill made some bad decisions that eventually caused him to lose his thriving real estate business and sent him to San Quentin state prison. He has detailed his journey in his new book, Lessons from San Quentin: Everything I needed to know about life I learned in prison.

RHS: My guest today is somebody who has been in ministry to me. He's a very unusual person. Bill Dallas is the founder and CEO of the Church Communication Network, a satellite and Internet communications company that serves over six thousand churches across North America. Our ministry partnered with him in our Faith Forward movement and Rethink conferences. Today Bill is here to share how God reached into his life.

After graduating from Vanderbilt University with a distinguished degree, he went on into business and made some bad decisions that eventually caused him to lose his thriving real estate business and send him to San Quentin State Prison. There are prisons and there are prisons and there are prisons and then there is San Quentin. He was finally released in 1995 but during his time in prison God captured his heart. He's detailed his journey in his new book, Lessons from San Quentin: Everything I needed to know about life I learned in prison. That's the book. Welcome with me, Bill Dallas.

BD: Thank you, Dr. Schuller.

RHS: I can see Jesus Christ in your life but I can't roll it back to find out how you landed in San Quentin for two and a half years. Could you hear the iron door clang behind you?

BD: I heard it and I thought I was never going to get out. I had made some very poor choices prior to being sentenced. I was not a Christ follower. I cut every corner imaginable and deservedly so I ended up in San Quentin. I'd come to know Christ just before I went into prison but when I went into prison it was a true test of my faith and it brought me to my knees, literally. I would go down to the prison yard at San Quentin every day and I would get on the ground and I would crawl up in a ball in the fetal position un-bathed, un-shaven, crying and this is as a believer in Christ, praying to God like Elijah prayed to God under the broom tree, take my life; I've had enough. And I thought I was never going to get out of that prison experience.

RHS: Wow. You were not born and raised in a heavy Christian environment. When did you become a Christian?

BD: After I had lost everything in real estate, just before I was about to go to prison, I was in my penthouse. I had all the fancy cars and the clothes and every toy that went with it and I lived a very wild lifestyle. Well it all started being taken away from me because it was all being reposed and taken. Just before my penthouse was taken, I was there one Sunday night and I was by myself and I don't know why, but I felt this emptiness that I'd never felt before in my life. And I dropped to my hands and knees and I asked Christ into my heart. And I remembered a saying I'd heard when I occasionally would go to young life when I was in high school, that the leader would mention. Blaise Pascal said that we're all created with a God shaped vacuum and until you put God in His rightful place you will go through your whole life searching to fill that hole with things. Well I did, you know, I did it with sex and I did it with money and I did it with cars and I did it with career and everything else you can imagine, but it never fulfilled the hole until I asked Christ into my heart.

And there began my journey with Christ. But because of so many of the things I'd done in the past, my salvation was secure and my emptiness was now full, but there were things from my past that I now was going to have to deal with and one of them was my real estate dealings. So a few months later I ended up getting arrested and ultimately settled on a situation where I went to San Quentin to serve two and a half years.

So I had the relationship with Christ but I had a lot of things to deal with. So I ended up going to San Quentin and as I mentioned it was the toughest, most difficult time I'd ever experienced in my life and I thought as a believer that I was never going to get out. Because I think sometimes as Christians we have the relationship with Christ but then when tough times come we wonder how do we get through them? I mean how do we get through it when God, He saved us but how does He save us through our difficulties and circumstances? And through a few miraculous things that happened while I was in prison, God was able to not only get me through the experience but He was able to grow my character and give me strength that I never knew that I had.

And I think two of the things that really got me through the process was number one, I was occasionally being encouraged by things that I would read. One of the things, which was amazing, I got a pamphlet from the Possibility-Thinking Institute, Dr. Robert Schuller. And in it I remember reading in the yard things like "tough times never last but tough people do." And one of my all time favorites, "inch by inch anything's a cinch," which proved that if you could just keep walking you can get through it.

But the second thing, which God orchestrated, were my mistakes. God orchestrated my mistakes for something good because He introduced me to a group of lifers, people that had been in prison for fifteen, twenty, twenty-five years; murderers, kidnappers and others who I at first thought before I went to prison were the worst of the worst and there was nothing good to be found in these people. But they had miraculous transformation in prison with Christ and they were new people. They became my brothers who groomed me and walked with me and taught me how to live a Christ life.

In fact one of the reasons why I wrote the book, Lessons from San Quentin wasn't just so much about my story, it was about their story. About how you really walk in difficult times like what's happening today in our economy. What's going on with marriage when things are tough, how do you get through it? They showed me that you can get through the toughest of tough times. It may not be a physical prison; it may be the prison of your mind. You can get through it. And when I was told that I was invited to come speak here, two of the inmates, former inmates that actually were in prison for over twenty years, two of my brothers that helped me walk through the most difficult time of my life were paroled just recently and they live in this area so I invited them to come today and they're here actually sitting right down in front.

RHS: Would they stand?

BD: I think they would and it's Ben Vaughn and Vy Lee, two of the greatest men I've ever met in my life.

RHS: Thank you.

BD: And these are men that really understand what it means to walk through the most difficult times of our life and to come out on the other side not hardened but have a soft heart. Not giving up but being stronger and ultimately helping others and you know my book, my life is a tribute to men like this.

RHS: You're wearing a wedding band. There are a lot of stories behind that, I'm sure. But I didn't realize you were happily married until this morning when I saw the band. Put a tear in my eye. God loves you, so do I. Thank you.

BD: Thank you.

Comments

We would love to hear from you! Please leave us a note on your thoughts and reactions.

We want to protect your privacy, please do not include personal information like addresses, phone numbers or emails in your comments. If you need to reach someone within the ministry, please use our Contact page to do so.


  1. Kimmer writes:

    I watched this young man express his emptiness and I truly could feel how he felt when he said "God,I've had enough, take me" as Elijah had done under the broom tree. I am feeling that way now as I struggle through a year of financial despair. I have lost my job, lost my home and now am about to lose my vehicle because I cannot afford the cost of replacing a motor in my 2008 Ford Escape. I am losing everything and this has been a roller coaster of effects for the past few years. It's one thing after another and I am worn down and tired of all of the effects of this. I want to believe as Bill did that things will get better, but the clouds are very dark right now. I am in awe how Bill turned his life around. What a testimony to the Lord! I wish the Lord would let me know he is here with me and turn my grey clouds to white again. God bless you Bill for making it through the storm.

    Report Abuse

    08/24/2009 09:32:28
  2. youngeone writes:

    Thank you BILL DALLAS for your testimony.GOD IS A GOD OF MERCY AND OF GRACE ,HE IS FAITHFUL. TO KIMMER ,GOD LOVES YOU , when we are in the storms of life it is hard to see this. GOD IS A FAITHFUL GOD ,HE HAS OUR BEST INTEREST AT HEART and HE DOES WORK ALL THING TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THOSE WHO TRUST HIM .PSALM 40 is my testimony , I will be praying for you,that YOU WILL FIND JESUS AS YOUR SAVIOUR .AND LORD .HE HAS A PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE. Remember GOD KNOWS YOUR NAME ,HE IS WITH YOU IN THE STORMS OF LIFE ,AND THERE IS NEVER A STORM WHICH DOES NOT END. MATHEW 28:20.

    Report Abuse

    08/24/2009 21:16:45
  3. Kimmer writes:

    Thank you youngeone. Thank you for sharing your obvious faith and love for God with me and others. I purchased Bill Dallas's book and could not put it down. I felt his pain on every page, yet also felt his HOPE and LOVE for the Lord. I cried at the end (won't ruin it for others). Not that it was sad, but that the LORD had perfectly placed Bill exactly where he needed him to make the necessary changes and to bring about the man we see now. Thank You Bill Dallas, your words have given me hope. Like you say, we may never see a San Quentin (God willing) but we have our own prisons and dark times. I want to walk in faith and feel the HOPE you felt. This book has impacted me in ways I would never have realized. I feel there was a reason I saw you on Sunday and felt compelled to read this book. Thank you Bill Dallas for sharing your suffering and trimphunt with the LORD.

    Report Abuse

    08/25/2009 19:20:50

Please login to post a comment. Don't have an account? Register for a free account here.

Crystal Cathedral

Gift Store Features

Mommy Grace - Erasing Your Mommy GuiltMommy Grace - Erasing Your Mommy Guilt
Sheila Coleman
Vintage Jesus
Mark Driscoll
Lessons From San Quentin - BOOKLessons From San Quentin - BOOK
Bill Dallas
Come Alive
Mark Schultz