William Bumphus

William BumphusWilliam Bumphus interviewed by Dr. Philip D. Derber

Early Years – Information from DELIVERED - A stirring testimony of the miracle working Power of God

   I was born on December 14, 1946 to Mosella and William Bumphus. Both were married at 16 years old. He lived with his grandmother, Tallie Perry. She attended church, but was a heavy gin drinker. She hated my father and disliked me. In fact, I learned later that Tallie put me in the stove to burn me up.

   My father was involved in gambling and criminal activity.

   I was raised on the west side of Indianapolis in the impoverished inner-city area. My earliest recollections are of dire poverty. Mama would be gone in the morning, no food in the house, and my brothers and sisters hollering and crying for something to eat. We never had enough to eat. Out of desperation I began to canvas the neighborhood for food. I would raid people’s gardens. I noticed that the doughnut delivery truck would place several boxes on doughnuts on the steps of the grocery store and I would help myself.

   Everyone in our neighborhood drank, fought, and barely made it from day to day.

   I was twelve years old when I met my father who had moved in and we moved every other month. Dad drove into our poverty-stricken area in a beautiful, shining, new convertible car with three women with him. Dad was my idol until I met Jesus Christ in prison. My dad never had a job but made his living by gambling, pimping, and stealing. My father encouraged me to get an education.

   My friends and I were throwing roofing shingles at each other like Frisbees.  I hit and lost my left eye.

   I joined a neighborhood gang and we went around beating up people, stealing and getting drunk. I dropped out of school at fifteen and started stealing cars. I was arrested at sixteen and given six months probation and fined $115. At the age of seventeen I was sentenced to serve 180 days at the Indiana State Farm and was sent to the county jail to wait transport to the Indiana State Farm. This all happened in 1966 during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The cell blocks were segregated.

   Also at this time, black Muslims were increasing in number and I shared a cell with an older man who said he had been with Malcolm X doing violent acts against the government. My experiences at the farm taught me to be a better criminal. I was released in April 1967 and sought out my old friends and began putting my criminal plans into action.

   By November 1967 I was locked up again for robbery and burglary and stayed in the county jail for eight months trying to fight my case and finally got a plea agreement for one year at the Indiana State Farm.

   During this incarceration, I got more involved with Islam and studied under Elijah Mohammed and received my X. The X meant that we were rejecting our slave masters’ names when we were brought over from Africa. Thus I was known as William X and rejecting the Bumphus name and I began to refer to myself as Hashaii Abdul Hakim. Malcolm X had been in and out of prison all his life and converted to Islam in prison. I identified with Malcolm X because I wanted to be somebody and articulated my new-found religion throughout the inmate population.

   A guard threw a Bible into my cell and told me to read it. It was impossible to understand a spiritual book with a natural mind without a teacher. I believed that the Bible was a white man’s lie and that slave owners and the Ku Klux Klan had used passages from the Bible to justify their treatment of black slaves. I didn’t believe that the Bible was the inspired Word of God and that Jesus was a good, moral man – just a prophet like Mohammed. Satan had blinded me. I didn’t realize was that until a man’s heart changed, he himself can never change – no matter what color he is.

   Heroin was smuggled into the prison and it was plentiful and I began to use all types of drugs until my release four months later. I became a heroin addict for the next ten years.

   I was release in early 1968 and my plan for success was based on criminal activities. As my habit for heroin grew, I had to get more money. I was pimping, robbing, and slumming – anything to get a dollar. I would steal checks from people’s mail boxes. Drugs were getting harder to get as the drug dealers were getting arrested. My cash checking scheme was over as I surrendered to the FBI. I was convicted of check forgery and sentenced to two years at the Federal Prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. If I was ever going to amount to anything, I would have to stop shooting dope.

   While in prison, I enrolled in school to pursue a GED, a vowed never to shoot dope again. However, in prison, I met some inmates that turned me on to LSD, so I began to trip on acid. Life in prison was ruff. I was finally released and wanted to change, but I did the same old things and found myself back in prison.

   One Sunday morning there was a short white man outside my cell talking a bunch of Jesus stuff. So this guy called to the front of our cell for prayer. I thought what can it hurt, it is only prayer. The next morning I went to court and they found out about my true identity. They knew I had been on the run for four years. I was taken from the courthouse to the Marion County jail and put in a holding cell. I prayed to Jesus to put me in a good cell block, but got the worst. I learned later that God heard my prayer and was busy arranging circumstances so that I would come to Him. He was arranging for my salvation from this horrible life of sin and crime. I was assigned a maximum security cell block located on the fourth floor. This guy asked me if I knew Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. This was the third time in two days that someone tried to share Jesus with me. I ordered that nut to leave me alone.

   The next day I remembered seeing five inmates standing in a circle praying. The following day they invited me to a Bible study. These inmates began to tell their testimonies about how Jesus came into their lives. I knew this was real. These men talked and acted like they really knew Jesus and was alive right now. They talked about the miracles that Jesus did. I thought, “What if He is the Son of God? What if He is more than a prophet? What if there really is a heaven and hell? What if there really is life after death?”

   The next day I asked these men, “How can I be like You?” One of them answered, “Just ask Jesus into your heart.” I prayed, “Jesus if You are real, come into my heart and forgive me for all my sins. When I went to bed, I didn’t feel different, but that morning I was different. I felt light headed, peaceful, and joyful. All day the peace of God was upon me. It was a peace I’d never experienced in my life.

   Thank God I am saved. Please read the brief summary below:

   Prison ministry leader and pastor William Bumphus didn't know anyone who was saved when he was growing up in Indiana. And along the way, he turned into a hardcore d.rug addict shooting up heroin, cocaine and morphine.

   Arrested 23 times for robberies, burglaries and thefts and imprisoned four times, Bumphus knew he was in trouble when he was about to be sentenced for up to 60 years. Then he came across four prisoners having a Bible study in a cell block. Bumphus had studied Islam and set out to persuade these students of the Word that the Bible was a lie. But just the opposite happened.

   The inmates studying the Bible told him if he got saved, he would receive a miracle. Ready to try anything, he gave his life to Christ, but his wasn't just a jailhouse conversion. Jesus took hold of his yielded heart and transformed his life.

  "I always emphasize not believe in your head but believe in your heart, the center of your being," Bumphus says. "That's when the miracle takes place."

   He experienced another kind of miracle too. He only had to serve 10 months in the Indiana State Prison instead of 60 years.

   Bumphus was also "baptized in the Holy Ghost in jail," he says, and now finds his motivation to serve "the least of these" from his ministry calling (Matt. 25:31-46).

  "The Lord called me to do this while I was incarcerated, and that's what motivates me," he says.

    Today, he has more than a criminal record. He says he has ministered in 575 prisons across America. Bumphus takes "successful" ex-convicts with him to minister, including on trips to Lagos, Nigeria, where one pastor told Bumphus he's the only foreigner allowed to preach in the prisons there.

   "Any place a person is incarcerated, I'll go," he says of his commitment.

   Bumphus has a particular reason for naming his Indianapolis-based organization "Jesus Inside Prison Ministry" (jipm.org).

   "Jesus Christ walked inside my cell and told me to go out and build Him a prison ministry," he says. "We were inside, so me and some other inmates wrote other churches from inside prison, let them know that we were Christians. We never heard an answer back from a pastor. So we thought, well, they're the ones who need ministering to. ... Then the Lord spoke to me, and He said, 'Name it after me, and I'll bless it.'"

    The Lord has done just that. Along with services and Bible correspondence, Bumphus and his team of ex-cons conduct weekend "prison invasions" in three prisons in Kentucky.

   "We'll go in and preach on the yard, go cell to cell, to the lockup unit, have services in the chapel and baptize them," he says.

   He brings in singers and rappers, so "we draw a lot of attention," he says.

   He also distributes his book, Jesus House: Where Miracles Still Happen, free of charge to the inmates.

   Bumphus has preached to tens of thousands of offenders and his ministry is seeing results.

  "There's revival going on inside prison," Bumphus says. "I've seen it for the last 25 years." 

William's Hearing His Voice Testimony

Click on PDF and set the printer to print both sides in color using landscape and fold.