'Chameleon' killer finds Christ in jail

'Chameleon' killer finds Christ in jail

From murderer to prison minister, Stanley Stever’s convict-to-Christian journey is testimony to the power of change.

It’s even rooted in anger-fuelled personality shifts the 52-year-old likens to one of nature’s most spectacular changes.   

“I became a chameleon,” Stever recalls. “I could be whoever I wanted to be that day. I could be the mean, hateful, resentful guy.”

Hateful enough, in fact, at age 17 to murder a man in a release of anger brewing for years.

Bullied at school for being a “bigger kid”, he became isolated and bottled up his rage. 

“I would physically get sick walking into school because of the anxiety I had knowing I was going to be teased and belittled the whole day,” he told The Christian Post. “That’s when the anger first started.”

There was resentment, too, toward “workaholic” parents who gave him, his six sisters and one brother little attention during his childhood in Westerville, Ohio.

“I alienated myself. I didn’t like people. I didn’t like being around people.”

But then he found what seemed like an answer.

“I would do just about anything that was put in front of me: from marijuana to beer to whiskey, cocaine, LSD, weapons and wet. I hated myself and I hated everything about me and I would do anything to get rid of that pain. 

“The anger and violence kept building inside, and when you have no relief out of that, you start isolating yourself and hating who you are.”

Cue the chameleon, and a change to hateful murderer that landed him with a 33-year jail term.

Once inside the Marion Correctional Institution (MCI), he joined the neo-Nazi Aryan brotherhood and spent a decade as a gang member.  

But then the gang’s leader, on a Christian retreat for inmates, invited Jesus into his life – and everything began to change. Stever said the transformation in the former gang boss was “contagious”, so he attended the retreat himself.

“An outside team shared and showered the love of God on us. I learned about forgiveness. When Jesus came into my life, everything changed.”

He began to study the Bible and to minister to his fellow inmates. Soon, there was a transformation like he’d seen in the gang leader.

“Stan was one of the few guys I got to know really well,” said Rev Corredon Rogers, now a pastor and former corrections officer at MCI. “Stan was one of the guys I literally saw change.”

The parole board saw that change too, finally granting parole after many previous refusals. In the 18 months since his release, Stever has served as the Kindway prison ministry’s director of community outreach, which includes mentoring inmates and helping them re-enter society.

“Walking out that prison, I never thought it would ever happen. It felt like my tomb was opened that day. It felt like that stone was rolled away and, man, that tomb is empty now.”

From New Life Newspaper issue 333.

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