Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Meanest Man in Texas

Clyde Thompson grew up in a Christian family. His 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 out hunting.

One Sunday afternoon in 1929, when he was 17 years old, he met two other boys in the woods, an argument broke out between the men and Clyde shot them both. So Clyde 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, but all this appeared to be just “jailhouse religion.”  Desperate for release, Clyde began trying to escape and he 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 murdered.


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 housed in an old building that used to be the prison morgue. A steel door was put in place and the only opening was about a foot square with bars. There was no running water, no electricity and only six hours of sunlight 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.

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 eight other prisoners. Then one day amazing and inexplicable news came. The warden came in and told Clyde that the Governor decided to commute the sentence of death to life imprisonment.

Clyde was flabbergasted! As he continued his Bible study and prison ministry, he made such an impression on prison administration that they finally let him go among the general population. Clyde’s faith in Christ grew and grew when he took a two-year Bible course from a college in TN. He became the chaplain’s right-hand man. 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.[1]

                                                                        Clyde Thompson 

Clyde Thompson will go down in God's record book as one of the greatest soul winners. It was “The Meanest Man in the State of Texas,” who was transformed by God’s glorious Gospel and led hundreds of hardened criminals to the foot of the Cross.

Clyde’s testimony reminds me of Paul’s word’s 1 Cor. 6:9-11, “9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Notice the little phrase, “And such were some of you. But . . .” Thank God for the “buts” of the Bible. Great doors swing open on those coordinating conjunctions. Doors which open up the endless storehouses of God’s grace and mercy. I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind, but now I see. Justice called, but mercy answered. I deserved hell, but Christ offered heaven.

[1] Thompson, Clyde. "I Was Sentenced to Death in the Electric Chair - A True Story." Christian Courier. Access date: July 19, 2016 <https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1377-i-was-sentenced-to-death-in-the-electric-chair-a-true-story>

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