During the years of 1976 and 1977 and through his involvement with Satanism, David Berkowitz participated in a reign of terror that gripped the City of New York with fear. Over a period of thirteen months, six people died and seven others were wounded.
This is David's testimony of:
The police and the news media used to call me "The Son of Sam", but God has given me a new name, "the son of Hope", because now, my life is about hope. - David Berkowitz
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17
I want to greet you in the name of my precious Savior, Jesus Christ. I am so grateful to be able to share this message of hope, the message that God is good and His mercy endures forever.
For the people who were injured, who lost their lives because of my actions, I have no excuse. I know I've ruined the lives of many people. Now I look back and see that I was the biggest fool, and I did Satan's dirty work. I have nobody to blame but myself because I could have gotten out of what I was into. I have nothing but deep sorrow in my heart and regret over all that has happened. I can't undo what was done. I failed my family, I failed society, I failed my community. Like the apostle Paul said (1 Timothy 1:15), I was one of the chiefest of sinners. In my heart I wish I could just go back and change things, but I know that can't be. I will always continue to pray for the peace of the families who were hurt, that Jesus would help them through their great loss, their grief and suffering, and bring the saving comfort only He can give. Part of me will never forget and never stop sorrowing, and yet another part wants to move on and share the precious love of Jesus with people.
I have been behind prison walls for 20 continuous years. The first 10 years of my sentence were, for me, years of darkness, defeat and despair. I had no purpose for living, and thoughts of suicide filled my mind. I was bitter, angry and miserable. I carried a "shank" with me anywhere I could get away with carrying it. There were a lot of people out to get me. I was living a vicious cycle of kill-or-be-killed.
In 1977, when I was age 24, I was involved in the occult, Satanism and on a rampage for the devil. I felt as if I were ready to die. Maybe I should have been killed when the police finally surrounded me with guns drawn. A few years into my sentence,while I was housed inside Attica prison, an inmate managed to attack me with a razor blade and I nearly died. With a sentence of 350 years plus life, and no hope of ever getting out, I struggled to survive. Yet another part of me just wanted to die. I should have died when that inmate slit my throat. I should have died during many other situations in my life because I was always in trouble.
I grew up in a loving Jewish home in the Bronx. My parents were caring people who gave me everything that they could. As far back as I can remember my childhood was not that of a normal child. It started when I was about five or six years old. I was completely uncontrollable. I would rampage through the house, sometimes overturning furniture. A tremendous force would come upon me and urge me to do destructive things to property or even to myself. Other times I would be in total silence to my parents and not respond to their outreaches of love. I would lock myself in the closet in the darkness and stay there for hours. I was depressed at times and my parents would have to pull me away from the window to keep me from committing suicide. I was a tormented child, always having psychological problems.
School officials sent me to a child psychologist. People couldn't cope with me. Now as I look back I understand that demons had me bound, even as a young child. I brought a lot of misery and confusion into the lives of my parents. As a teenager I wandered the streets at night, got involved in acts of vandalism and malicious mischief. It was only a matter of time before my whole life fell apart.
For reasons that I cannot fathom to this very day, Jesus made it His business to reach out to me with a love, a kindness and a compassion that I have never known before.
There was a time back in 1987, one cold winter's night, when I was in the prison yard. Another inmate walked up to me, introduced himself, and boldly told me that Jesus loved me and had a plan for my life. After he said those words I laughed at him and told him that there was no way God could love me. I told him I was too evil, that he was wasting his time. But this man had such a compassionate attitude, and I saw that he was really sincere. I cannot describe it. Let's just say he had a special glow about him.
Although I rejected what he shared about Jesus, we became friends because I knew he meant well. We started working out, walked the prison yard together. Every day he would quietly and patiently share God's Word with me. At first, I just listened. But after several weeks my attitude began to change. One day he offered me a small pocket New Testament which included the Psalms. He urged me to read portions of it, especially the Psalms. Some nights I would peek into the Bible just to check it out. I had never read the Bible before. I started to read the Psalms for the first time in my life, and said to myself, "My God, these are some of the most beautiful words I've ever read."
Things began to happen inside of me. I really found myself enjoying the words of the writers, especially King David. It seemed as if he were talking directly to me because he also underwent many trials and hardships. King David's life, to my surprise, had a lot of pain in it. Oftentimes he was surrounded by problems and trouble. I said to myself, "Hey, this guy really suffered." I always thought that a king's life was supposed to be healthy, happy, exciting and prosperous. Yet I read how he cried out to God in his misery. I said, "I'm miserable, too." I was. But David's solution was to cry out to God for help and deliverance. Me? I used to cry into my pillow.
Then one day it happened. I was reading the Psalms, it was close to midnight and I was alone in my cell. It was at that moment that my heart began to burst. The words I had been reading began to pierce my soul. Everything hit me at once, my guilt, the anger, the shame at failing my parents, loneliness, past hurts…everything!
I began to cry like never before. I shut my light out, got down on my knees in the darkness, and began to pour out my heart to the Lord. This was all new to me. Feelings of grief and deep remorse welled up inside. I called upon the God of Israel and talked to Him as if He were right in the cell with me. I didn't even know if God was listening. I just had to pray. And He heard my prayer.
When it was over I got up off my knees and I felt as if a tremendous load were lifted off me. This was the moment that I was born again. Although it would still take a while to see the whole picture, it was the turning point in my life - the start of a new life, even while still in prison. He lifted such a heavy load from me. I can't begin to tell you how good God is! I love Him so much.
As I said, this was in 1987. Nine years have since gone by. Right after I became saved I began to attend the chapel services and read my Bible with fervor. I started to fall in love with Jesus. I knew I was finally on the right road, a road of healing and hope. God began to flood me with His peace, even inside the prison house. And He is still working on me.
Now, after 20 years behind prison walls, I can only say that Jesus is the only Way. God has promised to deliver His people because He is a God of hope. Even for those who have not yet placed their trust in Jesus, the Lord is still offering hope if they repent of their sins and put their trust in Christ, the Messiah of Israel. I want to encourage you to put your trust in Him. It's good being a believer in Jesus. It's good experiencing His mercy and forgiveness.
Today, I just keep trusting in the Lord and I have completely given my life to Him. He's shown me His love and His mercy, even though I don't deserve it. He's my Comforter and He's my best Friend. Now I know that Jesus has set me free. Praise the Lord!
Let me tell you, I have been to Hell and back. I have made the biggest mess of my life. But, you know what? Today, knowing Jesus, serving our Lord, is the most exciting thing that can happen to a person. My life is not free of hardship or temptations, but living for Jesus is a challenge. Today I am overshadowed with His peace. I have no doubt whatsoever that I have been completely forgiven, that my sins have been forgotten, not by man, I don't expect man to forgive me, or society. I am responsible to live out the consequences of my actions. But God has thrown all my sins into His sea of forgetfulness. He's had mercy on me, a murderer and a devil-worshipper. And even though there is nothing good that I deserve from Him, He has allowed me to be a minister of His grace. There is joy flowing through me today because I know my Heavenly Father in a personal way. He's my God now, and I know that He's walking with me and He loves me and I love Him. I want to bow my heart before the Lord in loving obedience.
I am grateful for my heritage as a Jew and my faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It has helped me to understand the fulfillment of Scripture that is found in Yeshua, Jesus. Reading Isaiah chapter 53 with an open heart and an open mind reveals the Truth that Yeshua is that suffering Servant. There is no other person that can fulfill the Bible prophecies. The prophets talked about Yeshua. Read all of the prophets in the Hebrew Bible and you will find that everything points to Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah. As you search the Scriptures for yourself God will speak to you. He is the Messiah of the Jews.
I'm here to tell you there is hope in God through Jesus. The important question I would ask you is, have you trusted in Jesus as your personal Savior? I know what it is like to be in bondage to sin. I know what it is like to be shackled to Satan. Those cuffs can only be opened by Christ.
My message is plain. Jesus is calling people of all ages, of all races, to repent - to turn from their lives of sin, obey God by asking His Son Jesus into their hearts, to trust in His finished work on the cross, and have a new life in Him.
If there is a void in your life, an emptiness in your soul, I don't believe that money can fill it. I know that alcohol and drugs can't fill it. Knowledge and education can fill the human mind, but these things won't fill an empty heart. Sex won't do it. Neither will religion.
All have sinned. All need to repent and believe the gospel that Jesus, the Son of God, died for us, shed His atoning blood for us, that He arose again and now sits at the right hand of the Father. It is about having a personal relationship with Jesus,and having Him dwell in your heart by faith.
Please do not neglect this time of opportunity. Right where you are you can make sure you are saved for eternity and give your life to Him. He is standing at the door of your heart, knocking and calling your name. It is time to open your heart and bring Hope in, "Jesus Christ, our hope". (1 Timothy 1:1)
"...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 (Gentile), 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 10:9-13
God bless you. It was a privilege to share these things. I truly hope you have been encouraged to come to Jesus for healing, hope, salvation and life. If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord, continue with Him no matter what. The road may be hard but He will always be with you.
Maximum security prisons have been my home now, for two decades. I know that God is with me today. He shall also be with me tomorrow. I desire to serve Him out of a heart cleansed by His blood through sharing the Gospel, encouraging others in their faith, and helping my brothers and sisters in the Lord. I am confident that, as the Bible says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". (Philippians 4:13) I have no doubt the Lord will see me through, and He will do the same for you.
Peace. Stay strong in the faith. Don't quit. You may have a heavy burden today, but there will be a crown awaiting the faithful ones some bright tomorrow. Thank you for taking the time to read this testimony of God's great mercy.
With Love & Hope in Christ,