Participants: Aaron Chancy (Host), Donell Morgan
Series Code: TNJ
Program Code: TNJ000007
00:11 Welcome to "The New Journey,"
00:12 the program where we meet real life people,
00:14 with real life testimonies,
00:16 with real life working ministries for Jesus.
00:18 "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
00:21 that saved a wretch like me.
00:22 I once was lost but now I'm found,
00:25 was blind but now I see."
00:27 John Newton wrote this amazing song
00:28 of "Amazing Grace" over 200 years ago.
00:31 And interestingly enough,
00:32 the lyrics fit perfectly with our guest today.
00:35 Meet the man that was sentenced to 99 years in prison,
00:38 but is a free man today, gain hope
00:40 as you see how God can transform a life,
00:43 then place him in pastoral ministry.
00:45 This could be your success story.
00:47 I'm your host, Aaron Chancy.
00:48 Come join us on "The New Journey".
01:18 We like to welcome the viewers
01:20 back to this "New Journey" program.
01:21 Today our guest is Pastor Donell Morgan.
01:25 Welcome, Pastor Morgan.
01:26 Thank you. All right, all right.
01:28 Now we want to focus on your amazing testimony
01:31 of God's amazing saving grace.
01:33 We want to focus on four areas of your life,
01:35 your early childhood, how you got involved in crime,
01:39 changing your life
01:40 and your battle with even learning how to read.
01:42 And we want to talk about your work
01:43 as an ordained minister for God.
01:46 But before we get into those four aspects of your life,
01:49 you have a book that's written.
01:50 Now I want you to talk a little bit
01:51 about what prompted you,
01:53 what motivated you to want to write this book?
01:54 Well, what prompted me
01:56 and motivated me to write this book,
02:00 I used to go around from church to church.
02:03 Telling my testimonies. Okay.
02:05 Telling my testimony.
02:07 And the people had asked me
02:10 to put my life story in the book.
02:12 But the main person that had an influence over me
02:18 was Elder C.
02:20 Uh, Elder Dudley.
02:21 He was the president of South Central Conference.
02:26 And he had asked me to put my testimony in a book.
02:29 And he would like to see it before he actually passed away.
02:35 And so my wife and I, we have gotten busy
02:38 to put the testimony in the book
02:42 and the book was finished in March
02:45 and Elder Dudley had passed away in April.
02:49 Okay, okay.
02:50 What's the name of your book?
02:51 The name of it is very interesting.
02:53 Tell the viewers what that is.
02:54 The name of the book is "The Call."
02:56 The sub-topic is "To Hang Out with a Good God
03:01 That Keeps Bad Company."
03:03 You know, that is amazing because we do serve a good God
03:06 and he saves bad company like us.
03:09 We're not the greatest company at times,
03:10 we're a complaining people, disgruntled people,
03:13 but God wants to hang out with us.
03:15 That's right.
03:16 That's amazing, that's amazing. Powerful, very powerful book.
03:18 We want to talk a little bit about your early life now.
03:20 Where were you born? Where did you grow up at?
03:22 I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana.
03:25 New Orleans, Louisiana.
03:26 And raised in the Magnolia and the Melpomene Project.
03:30 Okay, okay.
03:31 Now I know a little bit about the Magnolia and the Melpomene.
03:33 I know about New Orleans in itself.
03:35 I used to live in Baton Rouge.
03:37 And you know, New Orleans is, to me is like a different city
03:40 than any other city that I've been in.
03:42 Uh, when I would go down there,
03:44 I would hang out in the projects,
03:45 The Desire, The Magnolia, The Calliope.
03:48 I know about these projects, I know about these areas.
03:50 So I'm very familiar with your upbringing.
03:52 It was probably difficult coming up, wasn't it?
03:55 Definitely very difficult coming up
03:58 because my daddy left my mother
04:03 when I was about 2 or 3 years old.
04:07 And I can remember having seven step fathers in the house.
04:14 Was that hard to see you have a step father
04:16 in your life at one point, for a little while,
04:19 and then he's gone, then another one comes and another?
04:21 How was it dealing with that?
04:23 Well, that was very difficult to accept.
04:28 Seven step fathers coming into my life.
04:33 And one of them, you know, has beaten me severely.
04:39 And I made up my mind
04:42 that I was not going to be beaten again by a step father.
04:47 Okay, okay. I can understand.
04:49 So that was a real hard upbringing that you had.
04:51 Did you grow up in a Christian home?
04:53 Was your mother a Christian?
04:54 Uh, did you have a grandmother that was a Christian?
04:56 Talk a little bit about that.
04:58 Uh, no. I did not grow up in a Christian home.
05:03 But I did grow up in a home that my mother would pray,
05:09 but I wouldn't call it a Christian home.
05:12 My grandmother,
05:14 she was very, very fond of me.
05:19 You see, she is, in other words, I was her,
05:23 I would guess I was her...
05:25 Her baby. Her baby.
05:27 Yeah, it actually...Okay, okay.
05:28 I was her baby.
05:29 And everything I needed,
05:32 you know, she supplied it for me.
05:34 That's my grandmother.
05:35 Okay, okay, amen.
05:37 Tell us how you got involved in the criminal lifestyle?
05:40 What were some underlying factors
05:42 that led to you getting involved in crime?
05:46 One of my step fathers had gotten upset with my mother.
05:51 And he said to her that if it's the last thing he does,
05:58 he's going to get even with her.
06:00 Wow. So he did.
06:02 He went down to the Food Stamp and Welfare Department
06:06 and he told the people there that he was living with us
06:10 and buying food for us and buying clothes for us,
06:16 and the department wanted to know
06:19 if his clothes were still in the house.
06:22 And he said, "Yes."
06:23 So upon investigation,
06:26 they came and found his clothes there
06:30 and they cut my mother off from welfare and food stamps.
06:36 So I saw my mother in the corner.
06:41 She was crying and she was praying and she was asking God,
06:46 "How am I going to take care of my children?"
06:49 How are you gonna make it? Yeah.
06:50 How are we gonna make it?
06:51 And when I looked at her and heard those words,
06:55 I said to myself at that particular time,
07:00 "We are not going to starve."
07:03 So I did not go back to school.
07:06 You see, and back then, at that time, if he was absent,
07:10 they wouldn't call the house and say,
07:12 "Well, your child wasn't in school today."
07:15 So it's almost like they didn't even care
07:17 whether you came to school or not.
07:18 That is correct. Okay.
07:20 So I went out to the grocery stores
07:23 and was asking people,
07:25 "Can I help them with their groceries
07:29 because my mother was cut off of welfare and food stamps?"
07:34 And I was out there just trying to make some money,
07:38 earn some money to help take care of my family.
07:43 Okay. You see.
07:45 And so they would give me 25 cents,
07:49 some a dollar, some 15 cents.
07:52 But the money was not coming in fast enough.
07:56 So I went to the golf clubs, beginning to carry,
08:02 what we call caddy bags.
08:07 and Caddy bags and so by me being a young man
08:14 I could not get a green ticket.
08:15 I was only able to get a yellow ticket.
08:18 The yellow ticket paid $3.50,
08:21 3 dollars and 50 cents for 18 holes,
08:25 where the green tickets paid like...
08:29 $5 or $6 for 18 holes.
08:33 So I was out there for some time,
08:37 way up from sun up to sun down
08:38 and all I was able to bring home
08:40 was sort of like $12.50, $15,
08:45 and that was not enough.
08:48 So I turned to selling drugs.
08:53 Now, I turned to selling drugs with a good intention.
08:57 Yeah, the good intention, okay.
08:58 The good intention was that we needed some food.
09:03 Okay, you know what's rather interesting is
09:06 that, you know, you got into selling drugs
09:09 with the purpose of good intentions.
09:11 You needed food. That's right.
09:12 It wasn't as, you know, "I want this fancy car,
09:15 I want these fancy clothes, I want the biggest house."
09:18 It wasn't like that.
09:19 It was a person that look, "I see my family struggling,
09:22 the caddy job's not working,
09:24 different things aren't working."
09:25 So it was like you had good intentions when you began?
09:28 Good intentions when I began.
09:31 Because I knew that once...
09:35 after this six months was up
09:38 where my mother was cut off from welfare and food stamps
09:44 that I would be able to get out of it.
09:48 And go on to something else.
09:52 But instead...
09:56 I began to use.
09:58 Yeah, okay. The drugs.
10:00 Now at this point how old were you,
10:01 at this point when you began selling the drugs
10:03 and you began using the drugs?
10:04 I think I was between 12 and 13 years old.
10:09 You know the system, most 12-13 year olds,
10:12 they should be in school, they should be learning.
10:15 They shouldn't be having to do anything like that,
10:16 selling drugs, using drugs.
10:18 But here you are, a 12-13 years old
10:20 trying to support your family.
10:22 My family.
10:23 Okay, how many people were in your family
10:25 at that time in your household?
10:26 That was five, that was six of us.
10:30 Okay, I had two...
10:34 two brothers and three sisters.
10:37 Were you the oldest?
10:39 No, I was the second to the oldest.
10:40 Okay, so you felt that you had to go out there
10:42 and basically provide for your family at that point.
10:45 At that point when I saw my mother crying and saying.
10:50 As it broke your heart.
10:52 "What am I going to do?"
10:55 Okay, because see, my mother and I was very close.
11:02 And when one of my step dads, is like I was saying earlier.
11:06 Yeah, seven step fathers.
11:08 That he was abusing me by whipping me,
11:11 you know, I looked over at my mother,
11:15 and I looked into her eyes and when I looked into her eyes
11:22 I realised that...
11:26 she felt my pain.
11:29 And when I realised that she felt my pain
11:34 as my step father was beating me,
11:38 as long as I kept my eyes on my mother
11:41 I did not feel the pain.
11:43 You see, so...
11:47 trying to get back to the original question
11:50 that you had asked me
11:52 and I would like for you to repeat it.
11:54 Okay, dealing with the drugs, at what point,
11:57 at what age did you began using the drugs
12:00 and what kind of drugs were you on at that point?
12:03 Okay, like I was saying,
12:05 selling the drugs and using the drugs,
12:07 it was between the age of 12 and 13.
12:11 Okay, I first started with sniffing glue.
12:15 That's where I first started, with sniffing glue.
12:18 Are you talking about like, Elmer's glue?
12:20 Elmer's glue. Wow.
12:21 You put it in the bag and just sniff it.
12:24 And also, we would put gasoline on a rag
12:28 and put it in a bag and then
12:30 we would begin to sniff the glue.
12:34 But I was selling drugs,
12:38 I was selling mostly marijuana and angel dust.
12:44 Okay, now, the money was coming in pretty good
12:48 as I was selling the drugs.
12:50 But when I began to use the drugs, okay,
12:55 then I had to have more money.
12:59 Yeah, yeah.
13:01 So I turned to home robbery, robbing people.
13:07 You see, because I was using the profit
13:10 that I was using to give to my mother.
13:13 You know, it's interesting
13:14 that you started out with good intentions.
13:17 You know, just six months,
13:18 I'm gonna sell these drugs for six months.
13:20 But the devil wouldn't let it only be six months.
13:22 He said "No, it's gonna be some time."
13:24 And you know, that's the thing because many times
13:26 when we go out there in our lifestyle,
13:28 we think "Well, I just want to try it for a little while.
13:30 Maybe a year, may be for two.
13:32 Next thing you know, 10-15 years later,
13:35 you're still in that life.
13:36 I'm still in that life. Still in that life.
13:38 So at 16 years old, you were in incarcerated.
13:41 What was that charge you were incarcerated for?
13:43 At 16 years old, I was arrested for home robbery
13:49 and attempted murder.
13:52 And there was a blessing in that
13:54 where you eventually went before the judge,
13:56 he sentenced you to 99 years, right?
13:58 That's right.
14:00 Now, there's a great blessing there
14:01 because you're sitting here with me today
14:03 and you don't look 99 years old, right now.
14:05 That's correct.
14:06 So we got to find out what that blessing is
14:08 but before I get to that, you know most people say that
14:12 "There's a void in my life somewhere.
14:14 There was a void. I realised that there was a void."
14:16 Did you have that same void in your life
14:18 we're trying to mask it up with different things?
14:20 Oh, yes, definitely I had a emptiness in my life.
14:27 And while I was out there,
14:30 I was trying to find something.
14:34 And I've thought it was in drugs.
14:36 I thought it was in...
14:39 in womens.
14:41 I thought it was in liquor. I thought it was in drugs.
14:45 I thought it was in all of these type of things.
14:48 You know, but when Jesus found me
14:52 out there on the streets,
14:54 I was high on angel dust, marijuana,
14:58 and Old Grand-Dad 100 proof.
15:01 Old Grand-Dad.
15:03 I was high when Jesus found me.
15:06 Wow, you know that's interesting
15:07 because actually when Jesus found me I was high, too.
15:10 I was on cocaine. I was on ecstasy.
15:12 I was on marijuana. I was on alcohol.
15:14 All at one time.
15:16 And it's interesting that even through all of that mess,
15:19 that God can still find us and then we can open our ears,
15:23 somehow, to listen to what God has to say.
15:26 That's amazing, amazing grace. Yeah.
15:28 Now, back to being sentenced to 99 years,
15:31 what took place in that?
15:32 And what was the blessing out of that?
15:33 Okay, being sentenced to 99 years,
15:38 I went before to judge
15:40 and the judge has sentenced me to 99 years.
15:45 Well, of course, when I was young,
15:47 that didn't bother me.
15:48 I went back for my cell.
15:50 But it bothered my mother
15:53 and my cigarette-puffing grandmother.
15:56 Cigarette-puffing grandmother.
15:59 Cigarette puffing grandmother and they prayed.
16:04 They prayed to God and ask God
16:09 to please a move up on the judge heart,
16:14 to take those 99 years back.
16:18 And the next day, the judge called me back to court.
16:23 My mother and grandmother was there.
16:26 And he said that,
16:30 "I never gave a young man
16:35 that, a 99 years...
16:37 Yeah, that amount of time.
16:39 That amount of time" Okay.
16:41 He said, "But what I'm going to do-- "
16:43 and then also he said "A first timer."
16:46 I was young, I was first.
16:48 Now, it wasn't your first time committing crime...
16:50 Oh, no, no. First time getting caught.
16:51 First time getting caught. Okay, okay.
16:54 And so he took that 99 years back
16:59 and he gave me 2 years and a half.
17:02 Wow, that's an incredible answer to prayer.
17:04 Incredible, then he called me back the next day and said
17:09 "I never gave anybody, 2 and half years
17:13 for home robbery and attempted murder."
17:17 So what he did was, he broke the time down,
17:22 he broke the choice down, that's what they call it.
17:24 Broke it down to attempted home robbery
17:29 and gave me 3 years in the Angola,
17:34 Louisiana State Prison.
17:36 Angola State Prison, now,
17:37 Angola I known for being infamous,
17:40 especially, years ago
17:42 Angola was known for being an infamous prison.
17:44 What was it like as a young man
17:46 being in this maximum security prison?
17:48 Well, actually this it what it was like for me.
17:54 I saw a lot of people getting stabbed.
17:59 I saw a lot of people that was killed
18:04 by mouth being drowned in a toilet.
18:08 And it was a nightmare.
18:13 But I didn't know God at all.
18:18 And didn't want nothing to do with God.
18:20 Yeah, okay.
18:22 So I start praying everyday while I was in prison saying,
18:26 "Lord, thank you very much for protecting me
18:31 and please protect me."
18:34 Now, this time you're praying.
18:35 You didn't even have a relationship with God.
18:37 No relationship. Okay.
18:39 Actually I took the word of God, the Bible,
18:42 and threw it on the ground and stamped it.
18:44 Wow. Okay, no relationship.
18:47 And then, I was praying everyday.
18:50 Because see, some of the friends,
18:53 we call them fall partners,
18:55 some of them and I were friends,
18:57 had gotten killed.
19:00 And because I came with them,
19:02 I was just about in danger as they were.
19:06 So as I was praying, God had blessed me not to get hurt.
19:14 Amen. And not to get killed.
19:16 But when I was out of prison, I went home,
19:24 kneeled down on the floor, and I said
19:27 "God, thank you for protecting me,
19:30 but now I don't need you anymore."
19:33 You know that's amazing.
19:34 Back in the streets, I'm went.
19:35 You know, at times
19:37 when we're in dangerous situations,
19:38 we want to call out to God, "Lord, help me, Lord, save me."
19:41 And as soon as He pulls us out of that mess,
19:44 we go right back to the same exact thing.
19:46 Right back to the same.
19:47 You know, it never fails at times.
19:49 Many people have gone through that,
19:51 when they are in bad situations,
19:53 they call on the name of Jesus.
19:54 As soon as something changes, they say, "You know what Lord?
19:58 I don't want anything to do with you."
20:00 That's not cool.
20:01 That's not what I'm interested in.
20:02 You know, you had another incredible answer to prayer,
20:05 while you were in Angola,
20:07 which took you out of that
20:08 maximum security prison to another prison.
20:10 Talk a little about that.
20:12 Yeah, again, my mother
20:13 and my cigarette-puffing grandmother,
20:17 they got together and they prayed.
20:20 Hello, Prayer meeting. Hello, Prayer meeting.
20:22 You see, and they knew about the Quincy,
20:28 the Quincy Alabama,
20:30 where first timers, you see,
20:34 can go there and it's not as hard as it was in Angola.
20:41 So it's more like a minimum or medium security prison.
20:43 Correct. Okay.
20:45 That's right. All right.
20:46 And so they began to pray, and ask God that
20:50 if I can be moved from Angola,
20:55 Louisiana to the Quincy, Louisiana.
20:59 And again, now, I'm already in Angola,
21:02 already in a Louisiana State Penitentiary,
21:05 and they prayed.
21:08 And when they prayed, I get a letter,
21:13 stating that I'm going to be transferred
21:16 from Louisiana State Penitentiary
21:19 to the Quincy, Louisiana,
21:22 where I spent the rest of my time in discharge.
21:25 Mm, another incredible answer to prayer.
21:27 Incredible answer to prayer. Amen, amen.
21:28 Now, you were sentenced to 99 years,
21:30 then the judge gave you 2 and a half,
21:32 then he brought you back and gave you 3 years.
21:34 How much time did you end up spending on that 3 years?
21:38 1 year, 11 months and 5 days.
21:40 Wow, you remember it to the day.
21:43 To the day, that's all we have to do, is remember.
21:45 You know, I remember when I was incarcerated,
21:48 everybody kind of makes their own little calendar.
21:50 Day one, day two, day three,
21:52 and you just keep track on
21:53 how much time you spend in prison.
21:55 So you got out, you said, "You know what Lord,
21:57 I don't want anything to do with you."
21:59 No more.
22:00 Now, let's transition over to,
22:02 you eventually got off the drugs,
22:04 you had a struggle getting off the drugs.
22:06 You got off those.
22:07 And you began to start to find Jesus.
22:10 Talk about you battle to read,
22:12 and how you found Jesus through learning to read.
22:15 That's very good.
22:16 I was high on angel dust and angel dust,
22:23 marijuana and Old Grand-Dad.
22:27 And I was just casually behind a store there
22:31 that's called Swagmans which is not there anymore.
22:36 And as I was just there, standing there, high,
22:39 you know, meeting with my brother,
22:41 and other guys that was around us hanging out.
22:45 There was a lady that came out of grocery store
22:47 and she asked me, she said, "Do you have a fare?"
22:51 I said, "No, Ma'am."
22:53 And she said, "Can you take me home?"
22:55 I said, "Yes." Okay.
22:56 So as I was taking her home,
22:59 by the time I got to the railroad track
23:02 where the Desire Project was, I got out of the taxi cab
23:08 and begin to preach Jesus to that lady.
23:12 And then as I was preaching, there I'm preaching Jesus.
23:14 And you don't even have a relationship with Jesus.
23:15 No relationship, don't want no relationship.
23:18 And you're preaching Jesus. And preaching Jesus.
23:21 So after I got through preaching Jesus,
23:24 I brought her home and then I went back,
23:27 to chill out with my brothers and the fellows
23:32 and another lady came up.
23:35 When she came out, she asks me can I take her home,
23:39 and I say "Yes."
23:40 And as I was driving her home,
23:44 I stopped at the same railroad track
23:47 and begin to preach Jesus to her.
23:50 Okay, and after I got them through preaching Jesus,
23:56 I brought her home.
23:59 Okay, so I began to see this change in me.
24:04 Okay. Okay.
24:06 And I'm saying to Jesus, I said, "Listen
24:10 how can I preach Jesus?
24:12 I cannot preach you." "I don't even know Jesus, yet."
24:14 Yes, and then I said, only when I'm high.
24:21 Because when the high left off, I was afraid,
24:24 I thought something was going to get me.
24:26 And I hurry up and run, and get the drugs again.
24:30 Yeah, tying to get high, yeah.
24:31 And smoke, then, I start preaching Jesus to everybody.
24:34 You see, and then when it wore off,
24:37 again, I did the same thing.
24:40 And I said, "Lord, why when I'm high
24:43 I can say something about you?" Okay.
24:45 And at that time, he took the Old Grand-Daddy away,
24:49 I couldn't find none in New Orleans.
24:51 He took the marijuana and angel dust away.
24:55 Folk was giving me angel dust, I try to smoke,
24:58 and I wasn't getting high.
25:00 And I had the cigarette in my mouth,
25:02 God said, "Throw the cigarette away."
25:06 No, he told me, "Throw the pack of cigarette away."
25:08 So I throw the packet away,
25:10 he said, "Throw the cigarette away."
25:12 I said, "Can I just smoke this one?"
25:14 He said, "No, throw it away."
25:16 "Throw it all of it." "Throw it all, all away."
25:18 Okay, now, in your book, you a us story
25:21 about you were driving a cab one day
25:23 and a lady began to read John 14 to you.
25:25 Yes. Tell about that.
25:27 Okay, yes.
25:28 When God began to move in my life, okay,
25:32 I wanted to read, I wanted to learn about God,
25:35 so I went and bought a $5 Bible.
25:38 And as I was driving the cab, I was asking the people,
25:42 "What this word is?"
25:43 They say, "Let," the other one, "Not."
25:46 And we went all the way through the book of John Chapter 14.
25:49 John Chapter 14. Wow.
25:51 Okay, by the time I got to the end of that,
25:54 okay, I forgot everything and I became frustrated.
25:59 And then, I got up early that morning,
26:02 driving down for Red Street, and I saw a big fat lady.
26:07 She was huge.
26:09 It took about 5 minutes to get in the cab.
26:13 I brought her home
26:15 and all of the story is in the book.
26:18 Okay, okay. Is in the book.
26:19 So what I did was, when I dropped her off,
26:23 she gave me the fare, and I wrote the address down,
26:30 and when I drove to the corner of Lafayette,
26:34 I look up there and saw Lafayette,
26:37 and I wrote the...
26:39 Wrote the name of the street.
26:40 The name of the street on my trip sheet
26:43 because I couldn't read and write
26:44 but that's how I was able to spell.
26:46 Yeah, you could catch the letters, okay.
26:47 But anyway, when I opened up the Saint John Chapter 14,
26:53 I began to read, "Let not your heart be troubled,
26:56 you believe in God, believe also in me."
26:59 You see, after I read that whole chapter-- thing,
27:03 I turn around to go tell her, you know, I want to thank her,
27:07 but there was no house there.
27:08 Wow, wow. Okay.
27:10 Nothing there? Nothing there.
27:11 I looked down at my trip sheet,
27:13 there was nothing there on the trip sheet.
27:17 Wow, viewers I tell you this is truly a story of amazing grace.
27:22 We don't have time to get in into the full story.
27:25 Now, Pastor Morgan is involved in pastoral ministry,
27:29 he has changed his life.
27:31 God has worked upon his life.
27:33 Pastor Morgan, I want you to speak
27:35 into the camera for about 10 minutes.
27:36 Talk to the viewers.
27:38 Give them some words of encouragement
27:39 in about 10 seconds.
27:40 Well, I just like to encourage you to let you know,
27:44 there is hope.
27:46 There is. And there is hope for tomorrow.
27:49 Some time we may feel like God is not there
27:52 but when I was at the bottom of the Mississippi river,
27:56 I heard a voice that said, "You are not going to drown."
28:03 And I said, "What shall I do?"
28:07 Then He said, "Take your feet and put where your head,
28:11 and your head where your feet."
28:13 Amen, amen.
28:15 This is truly a story of amazing grace.
28:18 We encourage you, to hear more.
28:19 Join us next time on "The New Journey."