By Laken Wilson —
Because of his buck teeth and because he was short, Brian was the kid who got pushed around at school, but the nightmare of being bullied paled in comparison to the emotional and physical abuse meted out by his father.
“I hated my father,” Brian Cole says in a CBN video. “I had this idea all through life, till I got to the age where I could take my dad on fist to cuffs that I would never be right with him.”
Eventually some kids from high school, outcasts and trouble-makers themselves, extended to Brian friendship — and cigarettes. Brian quickly realized that the tables had turned for his tormentors. With older kids sticking up for him, it was now his turn to terrorize them.
Brian began picking fights everywhere — in school, in church. He started stealing and using drugs regularly. Instead of finding compassion at church, he found condemnation and finger-pointing that only turned him away from God. He became what he hated: a bully.
Brian began breaking into churches, stealing their sounds systems and vandalizing them. He trafficked drugs and porn at school.
“Here I was 10 years old, and I didn’t want to be at home, I didn’t want to be in school, and I didn’t want to be in church,” he says, now with tears at the painful memories.
Only his mother, Dorothy, gave him unconditional love and prayed for him continuously.
“I loved that people looked up to me,” he says. “I loved that people were scared of me. I was the man.”
At age 14, Brian got turned over to police for selling pot — by his own father.
From there, he cycled through the police system, the judicial system, treatment centers and psych wards. He never stop using drugs and stealing.
At 18, Brian caught a case for breaking and entering 250 homes that landed him with 10 years in a maximum security prison. While there, he turned to Satanism because it offered him a way to generate even more fear in others. He was taking speed and LSD heavily.
“Seeing the fear in people’s eyes — even the guards’ eyes — boy that really fed my ego,” he says.
After being released in 1994, Brian got a girlfriend. When she cheated on him, he hunted down the offending man and shot him point blank. Miraculously, the man survived.
Police tracked down Brian, using a tip provided by his mom.
“Of course I blamed my mom,” he recalls. “You’re going to do me like that?”
For her part, Mom had all but given up. There was nothing she could humanly do for Brian. The only thing she could do was pray.
He caught another 12 years in prison. When he was released, he found an old friend who hooked him up with a new drug. Meth was unlike anything he’d ever tried before.
But his friend died of meth, passed out on a mattress that caught fire from a heater.
Brian didn’t last long in the streets. He got locked up once again.
“I was in my 40s and I just didn’t want to live anymore,” he says. “I knew I was responsible.”
Wanting to turn his life around, Brian enrolled in a drug rehabilitation program. After one or two sessions, he figured out that the group was faith-based. While he was turned off to God, he wanted to break with drugs and decided to stick with the program.
The homework required the use of a Bible. All the fill-in blanks were scriptures.
He stumbled across Psalm 51:7: “Purge me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
The verse startled and intrigued him. “It was word for word part of the cleansing rituals of the occult,” he says. “What is this doing in the Bible?”
It seemed strange that his practices in Satanism would be included in the Bible. But its coincidental inclusion in the Bible served a good purpose: it interested him in reading and learning more of God’s word.
Eventually, he realized he was reading truth and that Jesus was the truth. It became more than just homework for a drug rehab program. God was changing him on the inside.
“Instead of me filling the blanks now, the Gospel was filling in the blanks in my life,” he says.
Then, he wrote his mom as one of the requirements of his program. His mom responded with a 13-page letter. He realized his mom had loved him for all those 33 years of him being lost.
Brian accepted Jesus on Jan 22, 2009, and he renounced Satanism. The hardest thing for him to do was believe he could be forgiven.
Shortly after his release in 2010, he visited his dad. He asked forgiveness. His father responded: “I love you and I’m proud of you. I had not heard those two words all my life.”
Today, Brian is a church pastor and has a wife and kids. He is part of Faith Riders Motorcycle Ministry of Chequamegon, Wisconsin.
“I want to be a picture of hope for anybody, especially those involved in crimes and an ex-convicts, the hurting, the manipulated, those coming out of drugs,” he says. “I want them to have the same thing I got. I want to show them Jesus.
Laken Wilson studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.