David Berkowitz is known in the media as the Son of Sam and also the 44-Caliber Killer. But for the last 33 years, Brother David has lived his life in prison as the Son of Hope.
I reached out to David this spring in the hope that he would share his amazing journey of faith, and he agreed. It is our mutual desire to present the truth that no one is beyond the love and mercy of our forgiving God.
His story of sin and redemption is more extreme than most of us have or will experience. And that makes his testimony so powerful.
“I want to lift up our Lord’s name and point those who do not know Jesus as Savior and Lord to Him for salvation,” David shares. “I also hope to encourage and inspire my brothers and sisters in the faith to go deeper in their relationship with Him and to serve our Lord with all their heart, soul, and strength.”
And David reminds us, “For with God, nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)
I remember when David Berkowitz was captured by police on August 10, 1977. The Son of Sam had terrorized New Yorkers for the last twelve months. The random shootings left six dead and seven wounded. Back then, I would never have believed the paths that both he and I would take to arrive together at this point in time 43 years later.
The evening TV news I watched showed his arrest. I was years away from coming to faith. A moral criminal myself, my self-awareness was hidden by my sin. So, as his story emerged, I never would have thought of the many things we had in common.
We were both twenty-four, born a month apart, and grew up in and around New York City. We were raised in Jewish homes by loving, older adoptive parents, having been rejected, in one way or another, by our natural parents. As we entered our teens, both of us became uncontrollable, self-destructive, and often violent.
And both David and I would one day come to our Savior, who can forgive the worst of criminals. The crimes we brought to Him were different in nature – but then we know that all sin leads to death. I stopped short of acts which would lead me to prison. David has spent the last 43 years incarcerated.
His first parole hearing was scheduled in 2002. He sent a letter to then New York State Governor George Pataki asking that it be canceled. David wrote, “In all honesty, I believe that I deserve to be in prison for the rest of my life. I have, with God’s help, long ago come to terms with my situation and I have accepted my punishment.”
He attended his parole hearing in 2016 to make it clear that he was not interested in obtaining parole, but to voice a statement about the change God has made in his life – to speak of the power of God. His letter to the Parole Board is posted on his AriseandShine.org website.
David Berkowitz lives out his existence telling of his faith in the One who long ago exonerated him for his earthly crimes – and all of his sins. David understands that his life is one in eternity – that he is no longer a criminal in the eyes of our Creator.
“As you know, I hate the ‘Son of Sam’ name,” David says, speaking of how he is known in the media. “It’s a moniker hatched by the devil. But, the demon-possessed man in Mark 5:18-20 and Luke 8:38-39 was known more by his past. That is what made his testimony more powerful.”
Today he can look back on years of prison ministry, after he began his journey of faith in 1987. For many years he has come forth to present this truth – that no matter how horrible your sins, God will never turn from a truly repentant heart calling out for His mercy.
David is blessed with intelligence and verbal skill. He uses his sensitive, introspective mind in his online journal writings which began in 1998. Working with both believers and unbelievers, he conducts extensive correspondence. Through his website, his story goes out to all the world.
That story is this: The man known to the world as Son of Sam has through the power of God become the Son of Hope.
David Berkowitz, whose name is listed with the names of those whose crimes are too vile to mention, now has his name in the eternal Lamb’s Book of Life. Though living in a jail cell, he is free!
David’s journey of faith is one of the most powerful I have encountered.
In the future, we will share more of David’s journey. We pray for God to strengthen David as he continues to serve his Creator behind prison walls.
Far more than Rehabilitation, Salvation Gave David Berkowitz New Life
I’m watching his interview now. The man he once was has long gone. Messing with the demons is dangerous and especially when one’s mind is already fragile.
It’s a sad story for him and all involved. It’s only God’s place to judge.
Having communicated with David over a period of time, we are happy to call him brother and friend.
where did you see his interview?
David has several video interviews you can see on YouTube. The earliest was one with Larry King in 1999. https://www.reddit.com/r/TrueCrime/comments/enel43/1999_larry_king_interview_with_david_berkowitz/ You can search for others in Google Video. And we embedded a recent video interview with David in our article. https://faithunderground.org/2020/07/05/meet-david-berkowitz-formerly-known-as-the-son-of-sam-now-the-son-of-hope/
In all our contacts with David, he rings true…A faithful follower of The Way.
Many say, I’m a ‘good person’ or I believe in God, but the Bible says; our salvation comes by Faith not of Works’. Sown in corruption but Raised in Incorruption. David, holding fast to God’s promise: an inspiration, a Spiritual Warrior, & Living Example of the power of the Gospel.
We will pass along your comment to David. I know it will bless him as it did us.
Does he feel bad for the people he killed? Has he apologized to the family members of the people he murdered? I hope and pray he is a changed man. It is only God’s right to judge. With that being said i agree with what he said he should spend the rest of his life in prison. I hope he continues to pray and ask for forgiveness and I pray others can forgive him also.
He’s not a spiritual warrior. How anyone defends him is beyond me.
He will stand in front of God and will answer for what he has done.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
You should visit David’s Arise and Shine website and read his testimony. Yes, he is paying for sins through the justice system, but God has already paid for them in heaven through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
So MT, do you not believe in redemption? That someone who has committed crimes such as David has can be redeemed through the blood of Jesus who died for all sin? And if not for David, then what about King David who had Bathsheba’s husband killed? Or Paul, who persecuted Christians before his conversion?
The Book of 1 John is written to Christians, and does not apply to David’s prior acts before salvation. It does, however, apply to Christians who refuse forgiveness because one of His commands is that we forgive.
Jesus died to PAY the price for all sin, past, present future.
Only our Savior knows ‘TRUE Repentance’ and David is a model of that.
‘If sin were blue, we would all be a shade of blue in sin’
Only God knows his heart. I don’t, and I don’t believe him. Think about the sorrows and agonies of his victims and those who were affected by his crimes.
So true, only God knows the heart. We firmly believe that God can forgive the worst of sinners. A lot of people cause pain to other people and yet can be forgiven by God. David’s repentance rings true. I believe he feels deeply the “sorrows and agonies of his victims and those who were affected by his crimes.” That is why he doesn’t seek parole, rather he goes to his parole hearings to share his testimony. That is why we find David’s story of salvation so incredibly moving.
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.”
I wonder would you feel the same, Pamela, if it had been your child who left the house one night, never to return again alive? This man robbed so many innocent people of their future and families of their loved ones. I watched a recent interview in which, when asked about what he did, he replies ‘that was 40 years ago’… I’ll bet the loved ones of those whose lives he stole still feel the pain and grief as though it was yesterday
You are absolutely right, the pain one feels from being the victim of a horrendous crime never goes away. But as Christians, we are called to forgive those who repent and ask for forgiveness, as David has done and does everyday of his life in prison. “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. … Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22)
We live in Lancaster County, PA and when the horrendous Nickel Mines school shootings occurred, our Amish brothers and sisters in Christ gave a living testimony of what true Holy Spirit forgiveness looks like.
Paul was a serial killer yet the risen Lord forgave him and used him mightily to be an apostle to the gentiles. God has the power to forgive sins to a genuinely repentant heart. Thank God human beings are not God because they will be selective which sins they choose to forgive. Tnx
Think about the sorrows and agonies that Jesus endured while here on earth, and those of God Himself knowing what His Son was experiencing on behalf of all of us, even David Berkowitz.
I believe him.
The gospel: plain and simple.
Sin entered the world by one man Adam, and death is a consequence of this sin (Rom 5:12). Mankind has an eternal destiny of condemnation and wrath resulting in everlasting fire because of this inherited death through sin (Rom 6:23). But everlasting fire was not made for man but rather for the devil and his angels (Mat 25:41). The wrath of God on man is a consequence of man’s actions rather than a some predetermined judgment.
So no matter what good we might do we are still found sinners in the sight of our Creator God. And all unrighteousness and those who follow it get indignation and wrath. We cannot be found righteous for by God’s law we are all found sinners (Rom 3:19-20). If we have broken even one law we are found guilty of them all.
It is for this reason of not being able to create our own righteousness and being born in a sinful flesh that we need a Saviour (Titus 3:5). Jesus Christ is that Saviour, He is God manifested in the flesh. He was sinless and He died in our place on a cross some 2000 years ago. Taking upon himself the wrath and judgement that was intended for us sinners. And it is through his shed blood on the cross, His burial, and resurrection on our behalf that we are able to have peace with God and forgiveness of our sins (1 Cor 15:1-4, Col 2:14).
This is the good news unto all, but only those that trust in it are made righteous in Christ (Romans 3:22, Eph 1:13). By believing that what Jesus did on the cross was enough to satisfy the wrath of God against us we place our trust in Jesus and what he did and not our dead works. We are justified by His blood that saves us from God’s wrath (Rom 5:9). We are reconciled by His death and saved by His resurrected life (Rom 5:10)
It is then after we have heard this good news of Christ’s righteousness made available to us freely, and then trusted, that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit and we are now part of Christ’s body, the church (Eph 1:13). There is nothing that we need to do besides believe it, no good works that are required, and no bad works that can separate us from our new position in Christ (Romans 8:35-39). It is Christ that saves us. It is Christ that keeps us saved. Unmerited mercy. Unmerited grace and unmerited redemption through His blood. The gospel is not accepting Jesus into your heart. The gospel is not making him lord of your life, it is not saying a prayer and it is not being baptized with water. It is not repenting. It is not calling on His name and it is not confessing with your mouth. It is the understanding of our fallen state, our need to be saved and the who and what was done to save us (1 Cor 15:1-4). Salvation is not a lifetime process. There are no signs to confirm it. There are no special gifts to confirm it and there are no works required to prove it. You are not chosen. You are not Israel and you did not replace Israel. You are saved by faith alone having trusted the finished work of Christ on the cross and having trusted now become a member of the Body of Christ.
Amazing testimony of God’s power! So happy to know he found God and that he repented. Keep the faith David!
I am so glad for David that Jesus came into his heart. Only Christ alone can do these things in a person. It is true no matter your sin, Jesus will forgive and He will come into our hearts if we ask Him. That truly is the key isn’t it. Sadly many people misunderstand that Jesus will not come into a heart unless He is invited. Many seem to think that it is automatic but it is not. I love stories like this because it shows over and over the power of Love. The love of God surpasses failure and defeat. We all are failures just like the prodigal son story Jesus talked about. What a picture of Love. I am developing a sermon right now and I am incorporated David’s story into it. Later on it will be posted on my youtube page. I am very familiar to prison as I worked in one here in California for over 20 years. I am retired now and God called me into the ministry at the age of 71. I love to see when people come to Christ, the difference Jesus can make. We come broken and He mends us back together again. No matter where we are God will use us for His glory. Praise His name forever. Pastor John M Swanson
What an inspiring story! And blessings on your good work to share the Gospel.
PLEASE go to Davids prison Journals published on the webposting someone created David’s testimonies and stories–“ARISEANDSHINE” . READ his journals from behing bars. You cannt but be touched and blessed.
I discovered the story of David Berowitz properly here in the uk,by seeing a netflix production about him,just over a year ago…..It seems to me from the investigations that David was not responsible for all the killings,but basically took the rap for the crimes that others must have committed.I have found his story of redemption to be wholly encouraging and totally believe that God has forgiven him of his past and is using him in a mighty way for the power of good.I think his apology on arise and shine speaks volumes and the fact that he does not chase parole,and has said he has to think of his victims families and how they would feel if he were released.I have been blessed to have been able to communicate with David,two letters…and was so pleased he was able to take time out to reply.I have been able to share his story with quite a few others,and that in itself has been very interesting.Some have,like myself been hugely encouraged by his story,and at least two have been sceptical….I am certainly very pleased to have watched that Netflix documentary last year,and to have been introduced to David`s story,through that.