THE MEANEST MAN IN TEXAS
Let's finish with the true and amazing story of Clyde Thompson.
Clyde's father was a Bible salesman, but when he was old enough to stay home alone, he began refusing to go to church with the rest of the family. Most Sundays, while his family was in church, Clyde was hunting.
One Sunday afternoon in 1929, when he was 17 years old, he met some men in the woods, and for some reason Clyde killed the men. So at the age of 17, he was the youngest man in Texas history to be sentenced to death in the electric chair. Two years later, he became the youngest man on death row at Huntsville Penitentiary.
As the date of his execution neared, Clyde listened to a radio preacher and asked for the man to come to the prison and baptize him. The preacher came and Clyde was baptized.
Legal complications kept him from being executed. Unfortunately, things began to go very badly for him and he was worked so hard at the prison work farm that he lost his faith.
He began trying to escape and a number of prisoners were killed while trying to escape with Clyde. Clyde was shot through the shoulder in one of the attempts. While on death row he got into a fight and killed two other prisoners, making a total of four people he had killed.
As the years passed, Clyde Thompson was tagged by his own prison mates as the meanest man in the State of Texas. He developed such a terrible reputation inside death row that they put him in isolation. Clyde was put in an old building that used to be the morgue. A steel door was put in place and the only opening was about a foot square with bars. There was no running water and no electricity. Because this morgue sat between two very tall buildings inside the prison, daylight could only enter for six hours each day.
After being in the isolation for 2 or 3 months, Clyde asked a guard to bring him a Bible. He knew they wouldn't give him anything else to read, but he was bored. He just wanted something to read. He decided he would try to prove the Bible wasn't from God because it was full of contradictions--at least that's what he had heard. But the more he studied it, the more he became convinced it was God's truth. He came to realize that Christianity was man's only hope and he repented in tears on his knees day and night for months. Clyde kept reading the Bible and asking God if He could forgive a wretch like him.
A change began to come over Clyde Thompson. The guards noticed it. Later, he was released from the morgue to return to death row. There, on death row, he taught and baptized by immersion eight other prisoners. He made such an impression on prison administration that they finally released him from death row and let him go among the general population.
Clyde continued to study his Bible and he took a two-year Bible course from a college in TN. He became the chaplain's right-hand man, his assistant. Eventually, after more than 28 years in prison, the State of Texas gave him a life-time parole.
On the outside, Clyde went straight to the Lubbock County Jail, one of the largest county jails in Texas and he began a chaplaincy program there. Clyde died of a heart attack in July of 1979.
It was Clyde Thompson who will go down in God's record book as one of the greatest soul winners his present generation had ever known. It was Clyde Thompson, the meanest man in the State of Texas, who literally led hundreds of men, women, boys and girls out of the streets of alcoholism, out of the streets of drugs, and to the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. It was this man, Clyde Thompson, the meanest man in the State of Texas, who was transformed when he allowed the Word of God and the love of God to take hold of his life.
(From a sermon by David Owens, Transformed, 5/8/2012)
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