“God has done something in me. People who knew me ‘back when’ can’t believe I’m the same person,” he said.
Crawford is a native East Dallasite and graduate of Bryan Adams High School, (’79). His life has been riddled with just about every hard thing you can imagine: gambling addiction, alcoholism, drug abuse, broken relationships and prison.
“The crazy thing is, I wouldn’t trade any of it because it made me what I am today,” he laughs.
What is he today?
“Annointed” say two of his close friends in separate conversations.
“He is the real deal, inspirational,” explained Steve Rainey, friend and board member of Crawford’s ministry, Cross Times International.
“He is charismatic, vibrant and excited,” added boyhood friend and fellow Bryan Adams classmate Tracy Allen.
Allen has witnessed Crawford’s many battles thus far. “Oh, I’ve seen it all,” he laughed.
“I have never seen anybody come out stronger than ever and more convicted (of his purpose in life). He fought all the Goliaths and kept his head. Now, he truly has peace.”
Crawford used to be a home builder. During those years he chased every vice he could find. He said he was set up when he allowed his home to be used for a drug deal.
The house was raided for 10,000 hits of Ecstasy and $40,000 cash. Crawford went to jail.
Although assured he would only get 10 years probation, he was stunned when the judge delivered the verdict: 25 years in prison, effective immediately. He was 27 years old.
“All I remember was my mom screaming in the courtroom,” he said quietly.
He was sent to the Goree Unit in Huntsville, Texas for assignment to the specific unit where he’d serve his time.
“Everyone said, ‘You don’t wanna go to Coffield.’ That was where the Really Bad People go, and if you are a white guy, you’re sunk,” he said.
The assignment: Coffield.
Crawford went to prison on March 19, 1990 – his birthday.
“That was the greatest thing that ever happened to me, because that’s when I got saved, and I mean radically saved,” he said. “I sat in that cell and cried and cried. I couldn’t remember anything from my church upbringing except John 3:16. So that’s what I prayed, and a peace came upon me. I wasn’t afraid to go to prison.”
One officer on prisonofficer.org described Coffield this way: “Four thousand inmates. Hundreds of lifers. Gangs galore. Extortion. Beatings. Rape. Stabbings. Suicides. Blood. Vomit. Peversion. Hate… ”
He spent six months at Coffield. When his cellmate got raped, he knew he was going to be next. He pleaded for God to rescue him.
The next morning he was shipped to Venus Unit, a “nicer” prison where Crawford said he had the best job and loved his work. But it was still prison.
Getting mail was one of the things that kept him going during that time. He urges anyone who knows someone in prison to make the effort to write or visit.
“I’ve never seen so many grown men – hardened men- cry because they didn’t get mail. Some get angry because they think they’ve been forgotten,” he said.
Several months later and multiple accounts of what Crawford calls “miracles,” his sentence was reduced to 15 years, then to even less. He told God if he got out in 18 months, he’d serve God the rest of his life.
He was released from prison having served 17 months and 23 days.
Life in the free world still brought struggles. He tried Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous. Crawford continued to battle old habits after a move to California and worked through a difficult marriage that finally ended in divorce.
Because clients thought he had skipped out on a building project in Dallas, papers were served to him in California, putting him back in jail in Dallas. Sixteen days in solitary confinement brought Crawford to a new level of understanding.
“I was saved, but I wasn’t free. That time was a gift. When I got out I was really ready to give it all over to God,” he said.
He started Clark Crawford Ministries in 2008 and wrote several books about his experiences, as well as speaking on radio and talk shows when invited. Things were going well, but not great.
Last year, Crawford said God told him something new.
“I want your name off everything. It’s got to be all about the cross – Luke 9:23” is how Crawford put it.
Today, he will share his message with anyone who wants to listen. His friends say it is one of hope.
“I think a lot of people can relate to what he has been through in one way or another. It gives them hope to see where he’s been and where he is now,” Rainey said.
“He holds no grudges and is one of the most forgiving people I’ve been around. He doesn’t try to control things like he did in the past. He is a totally different guy with no more anxiety. And he wants others to experience that, too,” Allen added.
Crawford, who just finished his latest book “Unleashed,” still holds out hope for a restored marriage and re-unification with his two children.
He insists that it’s not too late for those of us who have hit bottom.
“No matter what you’ve done, how far you’ve blown it, your life can change today. Jesus makes a way where there seems to be no way. That’s where he does his strongest work.”
For more information on Cross Times International, visit crosstimes.com.