From the Cell to the Cross is a gripping true-life story. Sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole, Don Dennis was a man without hope. Nothing short of a miracle could turn his life around. Of Don Dennis, Charles "Chuck" Colson said: "I first met Don Dennis in Walla Walla prison. . . . He was a tough, hard con who gave his heart to the Lord and has been just as tough ever since--but now as a warrior for Christ. A wonderful example ...
From the Cell to the Cross is a gripping true-life story. Sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole, Don Dennis was a man without hope. Nothing short of a miracle could turn his life around. Of Don Dennis, Charles "Chuck" Colson said: "I first met Don Dennis in Walla Walla prison. . . . He was a tough, hard con who gave his heart to the Lord and has been just as tough ever since--but now as a warrior for Christ. A wonderful example of God's grace: the One who can save a Don Dennis or a Chuck Colson can save anyone."
A portion of this book, in somewhat different form, was originally published by Broadman Press in 1993 under the title Breaking Crime’s Vicious Cycle.
Excerpt from the book From the Cell to the Cross:
In 1977 Don Dennis stood at attention before a judge in a Seattle, Washington, courtroom.
"Mr. Dennis," the judge began, "you have been in and out of prison for more than twenty years. After reviewing your history of felonies, escapes, forgeries, and other crimes against society, I am sentencing you to life in prison.
That was Don Dennis, the habitual criminal. Then, he looked at life this way: "It was me and my prison buddies at war against the police, guards, society. We were like blood brothers."
Don was more comfortable behind prison walls than in free society. Each time he went back into prison, it was like "going home." That's where his friends were; that's where people understood him, or so he thought.
More than twenty years later that Don Dennis was no more. He was a man with a different kind of mission. Rather than tearing down, he was building up by helping prisoners and ex-prisoners find a new way of looking at life.
In August 1989, I spent a week with Don and Carol Dennis and their three dogs and two cats. It was a time of painful probing into the mistakes of the past. I saw a man who accepted personal responsibility for his attitudes and actions.
But there was more. Along with probing into the past, it was a time of looking to the future with expectant hope. I saw a man determined to help others overcome the same mistakes he made. I saw a man who wanted to make a positive difference in this world by pointing prisoners to a better way of living-inside, as well as outside, prison. I saw a man determined to help ex-convicts make it in the free world.
This is the story of how Don Dennis got from there to here. It is nothing short of a miracle.
For almost twenty years, Don Dennis led a group of volunteers in a prison ministry. The efforts of Don Dennis Ministries were recognized with a number of awards. In 1996 he and his group were named Outstanding Religious Group of the Year by the Texas Youth Commission and the Religious Group of the Year by the Gainesville State School. In 1997 he received the Governor's Faithful Service Award from Texas Governor George Bush. This was followed in 1998 with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award for Faithfulness to the Texas Youth Commission.
Shirley Stephens, who joined Don Dennis in telling his compelling story, holds a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Theological Seminary. She has more than thirty years of writing and editing experience. Other books to her credit are: Under the SS Shadow, the true story of a former Hitler Youth and the son of an SS major; A New Testament View of Women, a biblical study of all of the New Testament passages that relate specifically to women; From the Cell to the Cross, an update of Breaking Crime's Vicious Cycle about Don Dennis' work in the youth prisons in Texas; My Daughter Susan Smith, the story of a troubled young mother who sent her children to their deaths in a South Carolina lake; Great Truths from Jesus' Conversations With Women, nine truths that Jesus taught to women in dialog fashion; Great Truths from Jesus' Conversations With Men, eleven truths that Jesus taught to men in dialog fashion; Great Truths from Jesus' Conversations With Pharisees presents, in dialog form, ten truths that Jesus taught to Pharisees and their scribes, who were considered to be experts in the interpretation of the Old Testament Scriptures; Great Truths from One Woman's Conversations With the Apostle Paul presents, in dialog form, the teachings of Paul on the role of women in the home, church and society.