How God Turned a Convicted Murderer Into a Megachurch Pastor

How God Turned a Convicted Murderer Into a Megachurch Pastor

Years ago, Maury Davis was convicted of a horrific murder, but now he’s an Assemblies of God pastor, one of the most respected in Nashville, Tennessee. Listen to hear his story of how he got saved in jail, delivered from demons and released from prison. 

18 Minutes • 9 days ago

Episode Notes

The Strang Report

With Stephen Strang

Guest: Maury Davis

Years ago, Maury Davis was convicted of a horrific murder, but now he’s an Assemblies of God pastor, one of the most respected in Nashville, Tennessee. Listen to hear his story of how he got saved in jail, delivered from demons and released from prison. 

Introduction

Stephen Strang: Today on the Strang Report, we're going to hear one of the most amazing testimonies I've ever heard. It was a man who was convicted of a murder. He's going to tell us about it. And today, he's an Assemblies of God minister, one of the most respected ministers in Nashville, Tennessee, where he lives. His name is Maury Davis, and I'm so appreciative that he would come on the Strang Report and tell me about this testimony that he shared in Tampa, Florida recently, when I was down there for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. I was just blown away. We had had some minor interactions earlier. I knew he was respected pastor. I really didn't know his story. Tell  me how in the world did you end up in such a mess?

 

·         Read the Strang Report: How God Turned a Convicted Murderer into an AG Megachurch Pastor

 

Maury Davis: I grew up in Dallas, Texas actually in a suburb called Irving. My mom and dad divorced when I was young man. My mom remarried, married my stepdad who adopted me when my dad didn't pay child support. My father was an alcoholic, my natural father, and my stepdad was an unbelievable perfectionist. Back in those days, they considered spankings that we would consider assault or abusive today. I was afraid to go home all my life because I was afraid that Dad was going to spank me again. It was always naked with a switch. It was just humiliating, damaging. That switch would put little blood spots on the side of your hips. So, long story short, about 12 years of age, I began to experiment with drugs. Then at the end of my sophomore year of high school in Dallas, I had almost flunked out and I told my dad, my step dad, said I need discipline in my life and I want to go to a military academy. He was so frustrated not knowing what to do with me. He said, just pick one. So, I went to a military academy in Roswell, New Mexico, the New Mexico Military Institute, for two years. I did great in Roswell and came back to Dallas and discovered without a heart change, there is no destiny change. I got back involved with friends. By January of 1975, I weighed 133 pounds. I was a speed freak. And, in the middle of a crime, I committed a horrible murder. It was there in that jail that I heard the gospel for the first time.

 

Maury Davis Books

·         The Last Ride: A 30-Day Devotional

·         Why I Believe in Santa Claus

 

Stephen Strang: Wow. I mean, that's almost unbelievable. So, you were obviously at rock bottom and somebody shared the gospel with you. How did you respond?

Maury Davis: I had never walked in the doors of a church in my life. So, I believe what the public-school system teaches, which is the theory of evolution, which is the survival of the fittest, which means the strong ought to prey on the weak, which is what we're actually teaching our kids now, whether we say it that way or not. So, I'm locked up, going through sobriety. My attorney had just become a born-again Christian. He came to Christ at Calvary Church in Irving, Texas, under the leadership of pastor Don George when he had a marital problem because he was an alcoholic and was acting out. And God restored his marriage and delivered him from years of alcoholism, and healed his wife of breast cancer at a full gospel businessman’s meeting. So, in the charismatic movement, he was charismatic. He was pumped up and turned on. Every time I saw him, he would ask me to pray. I went through not only the withdrawals … when I talk about sobriety, I'm talking about soberness to my soul. When you wake up and a man across the cell has committed suicide four feet away from you and you don't know it till the next morning when you pull the cover back and see his eyes, it affects you. A man had hung himself and when they cut him down in the cells, across from us, he had left a note to his wife and children his pocket. I don't remember all of it, but at the very end of it was a paragraph that just caused me to cringe. It said, I'm sorry for all the pain that I've caused you. You'll be better off without me. I can't take it anymore. So, even though I didn't know who to say it to, down deep inside, I began to wonder, when do I come to the place when I can't take it. Every time I saw that attorney, he would ask me, are you ready to pray? I finally said yes. I’ll never forget the first prayer I prayed. I looked up at a concrete ceiling and I said, God, if you're up there, and you come down here and prove yourself to me, I'll serve you for the rest of my life. Long story short, Pastor George came and talked to me. Other pastors came and talked to me. But placed in my cell was a backsliding young man by the name of Tommy Joe. And Tommy Joe had recommitted his life to Christ from when he got arrested until I saw him. He got filled all over with the Holy Spirit, just full of God.  In a 40-man cell when 39 men are unhappy and demented and demon possessed and crazy and perverted and violent and dysfunctional and psychotic … and there's a happy person, whether you like it or not, a happy person is a light shining in the darkness.

 

What They’re Saying About Maury Davis

·         “Pastor Maury Davis has been a great asset in my life as a leader. He has helped me to think though things and be healthier in my emotions and thought processes. He’s been a great resource to our church as we are trying to respond to God’s call and move to the next level and fulfill our potential.” – Richard Holmes, lead pastor, Trinity Harvest Church, Pikeville, Kentucky

·         “I wouldn’t have my ministry without Maury Davis speaking to me as a leader.” – Sheila Harper, Founder and President of SaveOne

·         “Pastor Maury’s visionary leadership and unending passion was the catalyst for Cornerstone Church to grow and to become the largest Assemblies of God church in Tennessee. He desires to come alongside you and to equip you to lead your church to greater growth than ever. Pastor Maury powerfully poured himself into our Tennessee pastors via three leadership roundtables during 2018 and we are going to continue building upon his expertise in the coming years. He is also personally helping me to develop into a more effective leader as District Superintendent.” – Terry G. Bailey, District Superintendent, Tennessee Assemblies of God Ministry Network

 

He would ask me to come pray with him and come read the Bible with him. I would always say no thanks, I'm not ready for that yet. But there was something about him I couldn't get away from. Dr. Grigson, who was the state psychiatrist for the district attorney's office, evaluated me and my attorney gave me the report that he gave me the worst psychological report in the history of any inmate in Dallas, Texas, prior to 1975. In the report it said that I was a homicidal maniac for which there is no psychiatric cure. I sat down on the table after I heard what they said about me and I wondered, am I a crazy person? Am I living in a world that doesn't even exist in my mind? That young man came up and put his hand on my shoulder and said, Maury, everything's going to be all right. It wasn’t long after that, that my attorney said he asked the district attorney to plea bargain for 50 years. I sat down at that same table and I thought, I'll be 68 years of age. I'm 18. I'm not gonna live that long in here. Tommy came up into the same thing, put his hand on my shoulder and said everything's going to be alright. It wasn't long after that, that the attorney rejected that and said if he could, he was going to get the death penalty. I sat down, not ready to die and Tommy said it's going to be all right.

One day I stopped an older inmate from raping a younger inmate. I was just so tired of the perversion. I went to bed that night having forgotten the earlier altercation and just as I wrapped up on a little plastic mattress with a little blanket, which was all I had to try to get warm. Just as I kind of cocooned myself and was about to pass out sleep, I felt the knife that the man had made in the shank cut my throat and I heard Tommy's voice and it said, Richard, if you kill him, you have to kill me too. To make a long story short, I didn't know how to say I love you. I didn't understand brotherly love and all that. But this man became a friend like no friend I've ever had. I wondered what would make him willing to put his life on the line for somebody like me. I don't deserve that. What kind of man is this? When he went to trial, he came back with a smile on his face and I was so excited. I thought they had let him go. I've never forgotten that moment. I asked him Tommy, what did the judge give you? I thought they'd given probation and he said they gave me 75 years in the state penitentiary. I’ll never forget the feeling. It was like a fist went through my gut and I lost my breath. I went and I laid down on my bed and pulled the blanket over my head. For the first time, I just broke down weeping because this man didn't deserve what he got. He didn't belong in there. As I was laying there crying, thinking about his life is over, it hit me that day that if his life is over, your life is really over. I realized I'm not ever going to walk outside and see the sun come up in the morning or the moon and the stars at night. I'm never going to hear another wave crash on a beach. I'm never going to feel another snowflake or raindrop fall. Then I realized there were some things that were even more important. I'm never gonna have my mother put our arms around my neck and say I love you. My dad's never going to put his hand on my shoulder and say, son, I'm proud of you. It dawned on me that the most important things in life with things I never thought of.

As I laid there, just a mess, he walked in the room and I asked it how do you handle it, out of that brokenness? I asked that question and I’ll never forget what he said. He said, Maury, I'd rather be in this jail with Jesus Christ, then back out there living like we were for the devil. Those words took the scales off my eyes. I knew there had to be a God. I asked him to tell me about this God. I got a Bible that I'd never read and opened it to the gospel of John and began to read, for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but should have eternal life. He began to walk me through Corinthians that God would make me a brand-new creation of the old things to pass away and all things to be new. I knew that was my only hope. If the old things didn't pass away, I had no future. I had found a friend that was closer than a brother, a God that would be with me always even to the end of the age, a God that can make a way where there was no way, a God that can open a door that no man can shut. And out of that, I came to Jesus Christ.

Stephen Strang: Wow. Before I go on and ask you the amazing story of how you got out, and how you became a pastor, I have to find out whatever happened to Tommy Joe.

Maury Davis: The last heard of Tommy Joe, he owned a carpet store in Denton, Texas.

Stephen Strang: So, he obviously got out before 75 years was up?

Maury Davis: He got out at the end of six years. They charged him with attempted capital murder, stabbing a police officer. But the fact is, he had a friend that was in a fight in the bar and he and his brother took the drunk friend out. The guys he was fighting with came out and they were fighting in the parking lot. One of the men that they were fighting with had a knife and somebody knocked out his hands. Tommy reached down to pick it up according to what Tommy said to make sure nobody else stabbed anybody. And somebody pulled him up, he's a little short guy, and when he threw his hands back, a police officer out of uniform that had came up to stop it, he nicked him in his neck and the man got two stitches. The police officer actually testified to the parole board that this was not a capital murder. This kid was just throwing his hands backwards. They couldn't get that in the trial.

Stephen Strang: Well, it's good that he got out and for you it was life changing with him sharing the gospel with you. You mentioned earlier in the podcast Jay Don George, who I've had the privilege of knowing slightly, probably since the early 1980s, not long after all this happened. He's got a great church there. He's got a great reputation. And the lawyer that you mentioned, who had just gotten turned on to the Lord, Dennis Brewer, is actually a man I know who helped me with a legal situation once. This was a civil case and it was years later, but I knew that he was very, very well respected. I remember him as a fine Southern gentleman with quite a Texas drawl. So, here you are, facing 50 years, the prosecuting attorneys and tried to get the death penalty. You're 18 years old. How did you get out?

Maury Davis: We’d go to trial and it is 11-1 in favor of life, but my jury foreman is a gentleman by the name of Don McDaniels. I didn't know Don McDaniels then, but I've done videos and interviews with him since then. I called him my angel. He had been a law enforcement officer in Southern California after being a sniper in the Korean War. He had been possessed with a demon of murder. When God set him free, he left law enforcement in became an insurance agent and moved to Texas became an insurance man there. So, when we use demon possession, and you can figure out how that plays in the papers as a defense, the judge didn't want to hear about it. The DA didn't want to hear about it, but Don McDaniels watched me in that trial. He determined that I really had been saved. He stood in the gap for me, and would not let them give me more than 20 years. I didn't find that out till later. But I had a man that understood what I had been through that stood the gap for me. I got a 20-year sentence and was sent to the Texas Department of Corrections, maximum security, picking cotton and in the cornfields and broom straw and hoeing and chopping wood, hard labor. I spent eight and a half years in prison of the 20-year sentence. I received my sixth denial for parole in June of 1983. But because of overcrowding in prison, the federal government had ordered the Texas prison system to let people out. They created a lottery system of how to let people out. I don't know all the details of it, but they created some kind of lottery. Had they let me out in June of 1983, I would have been on parole for 11 and a half years. But because I won the lottery, August 23, 1983, I went home with time served and I was released from prison that day after eight and a half years by winning the lottery. That's how I got out.

 

Connect with Maury Davis

·         By email at info@maurydavis.com

·         On Facebook

·         At maurydavis.com

·         On Instagram

Where to Find Stephen Strang on the Internet

·         The Strang Report on Charismamag.com

·         The Strang Report on cpnshows.com

·         On Twitter

·         On Facebook

Episode Notes

The Strang Report

With Stephen Strang

Guest: Maury Davis

Years ago, Maury Davis was convicted of a horrific murder, but now he’s an Assemblies of God pastor, one of the most respected in Nashville, Tennessee. Listen to hear his story of how he got saved in jail, delivered from demons and released from prison. 

Introduction

Stephen Strang: Today on the Strang Report, we're going to hear one of the most amazing testimonies I've ever heard. It was a man who was convicted of a murder. He's going to tell us about it. And today, he's an Assemblies of God minister, one of the most respected ministers in Nashville, Tennessee, where he lives. His name is Maury Davis, and I'm so appreciative that he would come on the Strang Report and tell me about this testimony that he shared in Tampa, Florida recently, when I was down there for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. I was just blown away. We had had some minor interactions earlier. I knew he was respected pastor. I really didn't know his story. Tell  me how in the world did you end up in such a mess?

 

·         Read the Strang Report: How God Turned a Convicted Murderer into an AG Megachurch Pastor

 

Maury Davis: I grew up in Dallas, Texas actually in a suburb called Irving. My mom and dad divorced when I was young man. My mom remarried, married my stepdad who adopted me when my dad didn't pay child support. My father was an alcoholic, my natural father, and my stepdad was an unbelievable perfectionist. Back in those days, they considered spankings that we would consider assault or abusive today. I was afraid to go home all my life because I was afraid that Dad was going to spank me again. It was always naked with a switch. It was just humiliating, damaging. That switch would put little blood spots on the side of your hips. So, long story short, about 12 years of age, I began to experiment with drugs. Then at the end of my sophomore year of high school in Dallas, I had almost flunked out and I told my dad, my step dad, said I need discipline in my life and I want to go to a military academy. He was so frustrated not knowing what to do with me. He said, just pick one. So, I went to a military academy in Roswell, New Mexico, the New Mexico Military Institute, for two years. I did great in Roswell and came back to Dallas and discovered without a heart change, there is no destiny change. I got back involved with friends. By January of 1975, I weighed 133 pounds. I was a speed freak. And, in the middle of a crime, I committed a horrible murder. It was there in that jail that I heard the gospel for the first time.

 

Maury Davis Books

·         The Last Ride: A 30-Day Devotional

·         Why I Believe in Santa Claus

 

Stephen Strang: Wow. I mean, that's almost unbelievable. So, you were obviously at rock bottom and somebody shared the gospel with you. How did you respond?

Maury Davis: I had never walked in the doors of a church in my life. So, I believe what the public-school system teaches, which is the theory of evolution, which is the survival of the fittest, which means the strong ought to prey on the weak, which is what we're actually teaching our kids now, whether we say it that way or not. So, I'm locked up, going through sobriety. My attorney had just become a born-again Christian. He came to Christ at Calvary Church in Irving, Texas, under the leadership of pastor Don George when he had a marital problem because he was an alcoholic and was acting out. And God restored his marriage and delivered him from years of alcoholism, and healed his wife of breast cancer at a full gospel businessman’s meeting. So, in the charismatic movement, he was charismatic. He was pumped up and turned on. Every time I saw him, he would ask me to pray. I went through not only the withdrawals … when I talk about sobriety, I'm talking about soberness to my soul. When you wake up and a man across the cell has committed suicide four feet away from you and you don't know it till the next morning when you pull the cover back and see his eyes, it affects you. A man had hung himself and when they cut him down in the cells, across from us, he had left a note to his wife and children his pocket. I don't remember all of it, but at the very end of it was a paragraph that just caused me to cringe. It said, I'm sorry for all the pain that I've caused you. You'll be better off without me. I can't take it anymore. So, even though I didn't know who to say it to, down deep inside, I began to wonder, when do I come to the place when I can't take it. Every time I saw that attorney, he would ask me, are you ready to pray? I finally said yes. I’ll never forget the first prayer I prayed. I looked up at a concrete ceiling and I said, God, if you're up there, and you come down here and prove yourself to me, I'll serve you for the rest of my life. Long story short, Pastor George came and talked to me. Other pastors came and talked to me. But placed in my cell was a backsliding young man by the name of Tommy Joe. And Tommy Joe had recommitted his life to Christ from when he got arrested until I saw him. He got filled all over with the Holy Spirit, just full of God.  In a 40-man cell when 39 men are unhappy and demented and demon possessed and crazy and perverted and violent and dysfunctional and psychotic … and there's a happy person, whether you like it or not, a happy person is a light shining in the darkness.

 

What They’re Saying About Maury Davis

·         “Pastor Maury Davis has been a great asset in my life as a leader. He has helped me to think though things and be healthier in my emotions and thought processes. He’s been a great resource to our church as we are trying to respond to God’s call and move to the next level and fulfill our potential.” – Richard Holmes, lead pastor, Trinity Harvest Church, Pikeville, Kentucky

·         “I wouldn’t have my ministry without Maury Davis speaking to me as a leader.” – Sheila Harper, Founder and President of SaveOne

·         “Pastor Maury’s visionary leadership and unending passion was the catalyst for Cornerstone Church to grow and to become the largest Assemblies of God church in Tennessee. He desires to come alongside you and to equip you to lead your church to greater growth than ever. Pastor Maury powerfully poured himself into our Tennessee pastors via three leadership roundtables during 2018 and we are going to continue building upon his expertise in the coming years. He is also personally helping me to develop into a more effective leader as District Superintendent.” – Terry G. Bailey, District Superintendent, Tennessee Assemblies of God Ministry Network

 

He would ask me to come pray with him and come read the Bible with him. I would always say no thanks, I'm not ready for that yet. But there was something about him I couldn't get away from. Dr. Grigson, who was the state psychiatrist for the district attorney's office, evaluated me and my attorney gave me the report that he gave me the worst psychological report in the history of any inmate in Dallas, Texas, prior to 1975. In the report it said that I was a homicidal maniac for which there is no psychiatric cure. I sat down on the table after I heard what they said about me and I wondered, am I a crazy person? Am I living in a world that doesn't even exist in my mind? That young man came up and put his hand on my shoulder and said, Maury, everything's going to be all right. It wasn’t long after that, that my attorney said he asked the district attorney to plea bargain for 50 years. I sat down at that same table and I thought, I'll be 68 years of age. I'm 18. I'm not gonna live that long in here. Tommy came up into the same thing, put his hand on my shoulder and said everything's going to be alright. It wasn't long after that, that the attorney rejected that and said if he could, he was going to get the death penalty. I sat down, not ready to die and Tommy said it's going to be all right.

One day I stopped an older inmate from raping a younger inmate. I was just so tired of the perversion. I went to bed that night having forgotten the earlier altercation and just as I wrapped up on a little plastic mattress with a little blanket, which was all I had to try to get warm. Just as I kind of cocooned myself and was about to pass out sleep, I felt the knife that the man had made in the shank cut my throat and I heard Tommy's voice and it said, Richard, if you kill him, you have to kill me too. To make a long story short, I didn't know how to say I love you. I didn't understand brotherly love and all that. But this man became a friend like no friend I've ever had. I wondered what would make him willing to put his life on the line for somebody like me. I don't deserve that. What kind of man is this? When he went to trial, he came back with a smile on his face and I was so excited. I thought they had let him go. I've never forgotten that moment. I asked him Tommy, what did the judge give you? I thought they'd given probation and he said they gave me 75 years in the state penitentiary. I’ll never forget the feeling. It was like a fist went through my gut and I lost my breath. I went and I laid down on my bed and pulled the blanket over my head. For the first time, I just broke down weeping because this man didn't deserve what he got. He didn't belong in there. As I was laying there crying, thinking about his life is over, it hit me that day that if his life is over, your life is really over. I realized I'm not ever going to walk outside and see the sun come up in the morning or the moon and the stars at night. I'm never going to hear another wave crash on a beach. I'm never going to feel another snowflake or raindrop fall. Then I realized there were some things that were even more important. I'm never gonna have my mother put our arms around my neck and say I love you. My dad's never going to put his hand on my shoulder and say, son, I'm proud of you. It dawned on me that the most important things in life with things I never thought of.

As I laid there, just a mess, he walked in the room and I asked it how do you handle it, out of that brokenness? I asked that question and I’ll never forget what he said. He said, Maury, I'd rather be in this jail with Jesus Christ, then back out there living like we were for the devil. Those words took the scales off my eyes. I knew there had to be a God. I asked him to tell me about this God. I got a Bible that I'd never read and opened it to the gospel of John and began to read, for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but should have eternal life. He began to walk me through Corinthians that God would make me a brand-new creation of the old things to pass away and all things to be new. I knew that was my only hope. If the old things didn't pass away, I had no future. I had found a friend that was closer than a brother, a God that would be with me always even to the end of the age, a God that can make a way where there was no way, a God that can open a door that no man can shut. And out of that, I came to Jesus Christ.

Stephen Strang: Wow. Before I go on and ask you the amazing story of how you got out, and how you became a pastor, I have to find out whatever happened to Tommy Joe.

Maury Davis: The last heard of Tommy Joe, he owned a carpet store in Denton, Texas.

Stephen Strang: So, he obviously got out before 75 years was up?

Maury Davis: He got out at the end of six years. They charged him with attempted capital murder, stabbing a police officer. But the fact is, he had a friend that was in a fight in the bar and he and his brother took the drunk friend out. The guys he was fighting with came out and they were fighting in the parking lot. One of the men that they were fighting with had a knife and somebody knocked out his hands. Tommy reached down to pick it up according to what Tommy said to make sure nobody else stabbed anybody. And somebody pulled him up, he's a little short guy, and when he threw his hands back, a police officer out of uniform that had came up to stop it, he nicked him in his neck and the man got two stitches. The police officer actually testified to the parole board that this was not a capital murder. This kid was just throwing his hands backwards. They couldn't get that in the trial.

Stephen Strang: Well, it's good that he got out and for you it was life changing with him sharing the gospel with you. You mentioned earlier in the podcast Jay Don George, who I've had the privilege of knowing slightly, probably since the early 1980s, not long after all this happened. He's got a great church there. He's got a great reputation. And the lawyer that you mentioned, who had just gotten turned on to the Lord, Dennis Brewer, is actually a man I know who helped me with a legal situation once. This was a civil case and it was years later, but I knew that he was very, very well respected. I remember him as a fine Southern gentleman with quite a Texas drawl. So, here you are, facing 50 years, the prosecuting attorneys and tried to get the death penalty. You're 18 years old. How did you get out?

Maury Davis: We’d go to trial and it is 11-1 in favor of life, but my jury foreman is a gentleman by the name of Don McDaniels. I didn't know Don McDaniels then, but I've done videos and interviews with him since then. I called him my angel. He had been a law enforcement officer in Southern California after being a sniper in the Korean War. He had been possessed with a demon of murder. When God set him free, he left law enforcement in became an insurance agent and moved to Texas became an insurance man there. So, when we use demon possession, and you can figure out how that plays in the papers as a defense, the judge didn't want to hear about it. The DA didn't want to hear about it, but Don McDaniels watched me in that trial. He determined that I really had been saved. He stood in the gap for me, and would not let them give me more than 20 years. I didn't find that out till later. But I had a man that understood what I had been through that stood the gap for me. I got a 20-year sentence and was sent to the Texas Department of Corrections, maximum security, picking cotton and in the cornfields and broom straw and hoeing and chopping wood, hard labor. I spent eight and a half years in prison of the 20-year sentence. I received my sixth denial for parole in June of 1983. But because of overcrowding in prison, the federal government had ordered the Texas prison system to let people out. They created a lottery system of how to let people out. I don't know all the details of it, but they created some kind of lottery. Had they let me out in June of 1983, I would have been on parole for 11 and a half years. But because I won the lottery, August 23, 1983, I went home with time served and I was released from prison that day after eight and a half years by winning the lottery. That's how I got out.

 

Connect with Maury Davis

·         By email at info@maurydavis.com

·         On Facebook

·         At maurydavis.com

·         On Instagram

Where to Find Stephen Strang on the Internet

·         The Strang Report on Charismamag.com

·         The Strang Report on cpnshows.com

·         On Twitter

·         On Facebook

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How God Turned a Convicted Murderer Into a Megachurch Pastor