Over a period of two nights in 1969, seven people were murdered in their homes in the Los Angeles area.
Several of the victims were bound, and strange messages were written on the walls in their own blood. The most well-known victim was actress Sharon Tate, who was 8 ½ months pregnant. Her baby boy died in her womb.
The crimes became known as the Tate-Labianca murders and were carried out by members of the “Manson Family” at the instruction of their leader, Charles Manson, who is considered one of the most notorious murderers of the last century.
People were shocked by the brutality of the killings. But there was one man in the Los Angeles area, Dennis Rice, who developed something of a morbid curiosity about Charles Manson and his group.
In the months following the murders, Dennis’ opinion about Charles Manson began to shift. Instead of the cold-blooded murderer portrayed in the media, he began to see Manson as a leader who could bring about the revolution many members of the counter-cultural movement of the 1960s had been hoping for.
He was an anarchist and believed that revolution was the only answer for the nation’s problems. The goal was to totally overthrow the government and to start the country over again from scratch.
He had searched for deeper reality and truth in the writings of many of the world’s religions and through psychedelic drugs. He rebelled against all authority and got caught up in the whirlwind of demonstrations of the 1960s – the Weathermen, anti-Vietnam protests, and student movements that regularly spilled into the streets.
For the revolution to be born, he and other members of the Manson Family were going to have to break Charles Manson out of the L.A. County Jail – and to do that, they would need a full arsenal of weapons.
Their plot to break into an Army surplus store ended in gun fire between the Family members and police units from five cities. Narrowly surviving the assault, Dennis was arrested and taken into custody at the very L.A. County Jail he had set out to liberate.
That led to a seven-year stint in San Quentin prison where he discovered the Lord of the universe was there waiting for him. Dennis’ heart – so hardened from years of drugs, rebellion, crime, and evil deceptions from cult leaders like Charles Manson – softened and bowed before the true King, Jesus Christ.
It’s an amazing story of transformation you’ll hear on our broadcast today in a message Dennis recorded a few years before his death in 2013 at the age of 74.
Dennis was a prison evangelist for many years and led hundreds of inmates into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
If Dennis were here right now, he would tell you the same thing he told hardened criminals for years: there’s nothing you’ve done that puts you beyond the love of God. You don’t need to clean up your act before you come to Christ. God wants your heart now. He’ll deal with those things you’re concerned about over time.
The Apostle Paul is a great example of this. He was on the way to Damascus to murder Christians when Jesus intervened in his life and called him to be a messenger of the Gospel. If you’re not familiar with his story, read it in Acts 9.
What an amazing example of God’s grace.
In Romans 3:23-24, Paul said, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” You can’t earn salvation or cash in your goodness in exchange for it. Salvation is a gift.
Our primary purpose here at Focus on the Family is to lead people to Christ because, without Him, we have no hope. He is the foundation of a meaningful and fulfilling life.
We have a free booklet on our website called, “Coming Home: An Invitation to Join God’s Family.” If you are considering Christianity, it’ll answer most of your questions, and it even includes a prayer for you to follow.
If you would like to learn more about the Christian life, please get in touch with us. This is the most important decision you will ever make.