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From Dangerous Felon to On Fire for Christ with Steven Snook

Steven Snook was a man that fell through the cracks. He needed help. His life began in violence and he later ended up in prison as a violent & dangerous felon. For many in the same circumstances that may have been the end of the story, but Steven has a testimony that includes a 100% take over by the Holy Spirit. In a moment of redemption on his knees crying out to God, his life changed forever and is now a POWERFUL example of how lives are transformed by the love of Jesus Christ.

Special thanks to our sponsor Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, who have been serving the homeless population and helping the lost become found for over 90 years. Our vision is to see every homeless neighbor — beloved, redeemed, restored. Find out more about them at


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Steven Snook: So, now here I am. I haven’t just destroyed my life, but now I’m starting to destroy the lives of those that are around me. And in, in that moment right there, I, and I can’t go back in my mind to, to tell you exactly what I was thinking at that moment, but I just set the phone down. I went to that jail cell and I got on my knees and I gave my life to Jesus.

Narrator: We’ve all experienced it. You run into a friend from the past, but there’s something different. They are changed. Maybe there is a calm where there once was a storm. Maybe there is gentleness, instead of harshness. There’s a new passion, a new life. What changed? Welcome to brought Back to Life. A podcast where we explore stories of ordinary transformation.

Producer Luke: Hey, this is Luke, the producer here. Our guest on this week’s episode, Steven, shares his story of being vulnerable, falling through the cracks, needing help and finding redemption. Our sponsor, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission does just that. Stay tuned all the way to the end to hear about what they’re doing in our own backyard. You won’t wanna miss it.

Steven Snook: My name is Steven Snook. I was released earlier this year, February 2022, after serving 19 years in a federal prison for a non-violent drug crime. But it wasn’t the first time that I’d been to prison. I’d been in and out of trouble my entire life. I’d been a drug dealer since I was 15, after I was released from prison the first time, I met my mother for about the fourth time that I’d ever met her in my life. I was 23 years old, and we sat in a car in Virginia and she started to tell me about my life. Things about my life that I never knew about.

So, I wanna take you back to that story because that’s the beginning of my life. My mother had me when she was 15 years old, and she already had a son that was 17 months old. So, here was a, a young. having her second child at 15, that was single and that was completely on her own. She relayed this story to me that when she was in the hospital room preparing to go into labor, that they, she was there all alone, at 15 years old. And there was a woman, a stranger that was sharing the room with her. And back then in the seventies, in, in Virginia, this particular hospital, in order to have a television to watch, you had to rent that television for your length of your stay while in the hospital. And the woman asked her, if she was able to rent a television. My mother told me she was not. And the woman said, I’ll pay for your television, sweetie.

And so, she paid for the television and the conversation ensued. And my young mother asked the lady what she thought would be a good name for a son. And the lady said, I think a good name for a son would be Steven. And that’s how I got my name. My mother told me that’s been now, oh, almost 23 years. About four years after she told me that story, she committed suicide and she killed herself. So, starting with my life story and what she told me there that day that she was unable to take care of my brother and myself. And there was no backing, financial backing. She didn’t know what to do, that she loved us very much and she took us, and she set us out by the road and she called the police, and they came and they got my brother and myself and they put us in a foster home.

We had two different fathers, but his father’s sister came and got him and took him to Illinois. I stayed in the foster home and then later they returned to Virginia, and they came and got me. And this is how my life started in the state of Illinois. I was raised by my aunt. She was, she was essentially, she was extremely uneducated. I hesitate to call her illiterate because she did know how to read and write a little bit. But she only had about a fifth or sixth grade education and she constantly married very violent men. The first man that she married was a military veteran. And one of my first memories of life of that man, was sitting on my aunt’s lap in our front room. There was no discord in the house, no argument. And he just walked up and punched her right in the face. And I remember that, like it happened yesterday, and I’m 40, almost 46 years old as I’m telling this story. So, she left that man, she divorced him. And when I was about seven years old, she married another man.

He was a veteran, a military veteran. He was a very hard drinker, and he was extremely abusive, both physically and verbally. And so, that’s how my brother and I were raised. We, he taught us how to fight at a very young age. He taught us how to be very violent. There was not love in that house. And so, we took that attitude to school with us. We were constantly kicked outta school or expelled from school. And we just started to get into that young life of crime that you see happening so much nowadays in America, that wasn’t quite as prevalent back then, but we were those kids, and we were involved in it.

And, and by the time that my brother turned 14, he just ran away. He couldn’t take it anymore. He would rather live like a hobo and jump on a train, which he did in Illinois. And he took a train car to the East coast, and then he took it all the way to the west coast. I ended up, by the time I was 15, just started selling marijuana. We lived in poverty so bad that if I was able to show a picture of my house on the screen here, you would say, that doesn’t really look like a house at all. But there were actually five of us living in that place. And that’s how my journey into crime began. Now I always knew that I had a few gifts from God that I was fortunate to have.

We never went to church. We didn’t speak about God per se, in that house. So, I didn’t grow up with that Christian background. Even though there’s a church on almost every straight corner in America, it just wasn’t part of our vocabulary in that home. Let me fast forward just a little bit here to actually going to, to jail. When I was about 16, the violence increased to a very strong level, and me and my brother would either get jumped or jumped other kids. I got my eye knocked out when I was actually 14 in a gang fight. But I do remember one time specifically that the alcoholic uncle that I had, he did tell me one time, he said, Steven, if you ever get in a position or in some trouble that you just cannot get out of, or your life’s in danger, he said, I want you to call out to Jesus.

Now, this sounded insane coming from a guy like this, but these were the words that came out of this veteran’s mouth. So, I just began down that path. By the time I was 19 years old, I was going down to the Mexican border, picking up loads of marijuana, and I ended up getting caught doing that. I went to jail in Texas, in Ohio, and Illinois and every place that marijuana was scheduled to go. And then when I was 21, I had a 17-year-old girlfriend and we were just in a very violent relationship with each other. And I ended up, going to prison, with that instance with her. And then by the time I got out, I went right back to selling cocaine.

That was my life. I never had any intention of stopping. It was just always; this is what I’m gonna do. And this is scheduled to be who I’m going to become. No one that ever knew me growing up, or saw the pattern of my life, would ever even imagine that I would be in the position that I’m in right now, or the person that I am right now.

So, about the time I turned 26 years old, I got indicted by the federal government DEA, FBI, and I got caught with a little over 12 pounds of cocaine in my business trailer. I had just been married. I was recently married; I’d only been married for about a month. And that was the only co-defendant that I had on my case. In a case that large, normally you’d inspect 15 or 20 different co-defendants, but I wasn’t gonna be a snitch. I was going down hard. And so they gave me 22 years in federal prison and they gave my wife, my young wife, 24 months, just because. That’s how that works. And that’s the leverage that they try to use against you to get you to cooperate with the government.

And so, I went to jail with that, getting ready to receive that 22-year sentence. And I know exactly how I’m gonna do my time in jail because I, like I said, I’ve been to prison before and being a gang member and just, I know how to jail, and I know how to do that time. And I was still very criminally minded. And, I had a visit from my younger brother, and he came to see me, and I told him how to go collect some money and how I wanted him to go do it, and I didn’t think of much else about that conversation. And about five days later, I picked up the phone and I called back home, and they said, have you been watching the news?

And I said, I really haven’t been. And they said, your brother’s in the hospital and he is on life support. We don’t know if he’s gonna make it or not. He’s on a breathing machine. He got in a high-speed police chase, and as they were going around corners throwing guns out of the vehicle, crashed and he got crushed.

And so, this is the situation. He was in that high-speed police chase because I sent him on the mission to go take care of that business. So, now here I am. I haven’t just destroyed my life, but now I’m starting to destroy the lives of those that are around me. And in, in that moment right there, I, and I can’t go back in my mind to, to tell you exactly what I was thinking at that moment, but I just set the phone down. I went to that jail cell, and I got on my knees, and I gave my life to Jesus. I don’t know, where that even came from or how that came out of me, but that’s what I did. And I just said, Lord, I just can’t do this anymore. I’ve destroyed everything that I’ve touched and every life that I’ve touched.

And after that prayer, and after some time with that prayer, not too much changed. And then about three weeks later, I was transferred to another jail while awaiting sentencing. And when I got to that jail, about after being there about four or five, that’s still small voice that we know what it is now it whispered to me and it said, tomorrow you’re gonna start reading the Bible and you’re not going to eat. I’d never heard of fasting. I’m not coming from a religious background. I’d probably only seen people pray in my life, maybe less than five or six times in my entire life. So, I didn’t have a Bible.

I went to an old black man that was in my unit. He had a Bible. I knew that asked him if I could borrow it. He told me I could, and I went to my cell, and I just started reading the Bible. And I didn’t eat. And I read that Bible straight through in 11 days. And by the time I came outta that cell, the revelation that the Lord gave me was that this is the greatest love letter that’s ever been written.

I’d never read the Bible before. Read chapters of books outta the Bible. He just, that was the revelation I got. So, I gave the man’s Bible back and just caught on absolute fire for the Lord. Every day I just read that Bible. Read that Bible. So, what was on. What God was putting on me was contagious because in the unit that I was in, I was the only white guy in that unit.

So, our days were spent, everybody’s in pretrial waiting to go get these 20- and 30-year sentences from the feds. And our days, they used to be spent by me, but now they were spent by everybody else, just gambling, playing cards, playing dominoes, watching BET, rap City and everything else. But then one guy would come to my cell, he was a gang member from Chicago Vice, and we’d read the Bible a little. Pretty soon, another guy would come to my cell and then another guy would come, and the next thing you know, we’re having full-fledged Bible studies in this unit. So, we went from watching BET Rap City to watching the Trinity Broadcast Network in this unit.

I went to court. I got my 22-year prison sentence. My wife got her two years. They took me, put me on a plane and sent me to Florida. That’s where I started my sentence at. And probably about a year into that sentence of just walking with the Lord; real tough and just spending that time. It was being born again like that, and the way that it happened in my life was just, it was overwhelming, and shocking having not come from a church background, I would take things so literally outta the Bible. I would literally take communion before every meal, because when I read in there that Jesus said, do this, as often as you remember me and break this bread and drink this, I would do that literally before every meal, not knowing church traditions or anything like that.

And that’s how my spiritual walk developed. And about a year into that, I came across some scriptures talking about the Holy Spirit, the baptism, and the Holy Spirit; the more of the more faith filled, aspects of the Christian walkout, the New Testament. And so, I took that Bible right there and I went to my buddy’s house. He was a big muscular black guy, but he was also a Christian man. And I said, did you notice he was in here? And he was like, yeah, I knew. I said, you know what? I’m a Christian. I love the Lord, and I’m gonna pray for this right here. I believe this belongs to me. And that’s how I talk, and that’s how I pray. And I just pray to the Lord, and I said, listen, I’m your kid man. I’m your son and I believe in you, and I know I’m saved, and I know I’m born again, Lord. And I’m asking you for this. I’m going to the point, Lord, where I’m demanding it, I believe this. I believe what you’ve written right here.

I’m seeing what you’re doing. And again, nothing happened. So, the next day I was walking out in front of his cell, and I will say that this is the greatest event, the probably the greatest single event in my life, even greater than my children being born. As I was walking in front of his cell, waiting for him to get ready to go to chow, that voice came again, that little, still small voice and said, just open your mouth and let it go. And I was just walking in front of the cell waiting on him to get dressed, and I just opened my mouth and it just started in my stomach like a rumble and just came flowing outta me. And I just started speaking in tongues. And I had no concept of what this was, and it was just flying outta me.

It was just the most amazing feeling in my heart that I’d ever felt, and I just went to my cell, and I closed the door and I hit my knees and just let it flow out of me. And then the first words I said in English, after a few minutes, I pointed up to the top of that prison cell, and I looked, I pointed and I said, I knew you was there. Because I went from believing and believing in the Lord to now, I knew, and I know that Jesus is real. So, about a year after that of just being absolutely on fire for Jesus, prison is prison. And I’m lying in bed one day reading my Bible. A guy comes into the room, he’s a, he is a friend of one of my roommates, totally disrespects me, and we end up getting in a knockdown, drag out fight.

This guy, he’s, again, this is a big muscular black guy, and he just has no idea of what he’s really getting into, cuz he thinks he’s getting into it with a small, 160-pound white guy that just sits around and reads the Bible. He doesn’t know that I’ve been trained since I was seven years old by a veteran, Vietnam veteran, how to take somebody out.

So, I just tune this guy up and they take me, they take me and put me in solitary confinement. We have to wait and see a hearing officer. While I’m in solitary confinement, they put me in a cell, and this was a big turning point in my life. This was a huge moment as well. They put me everywhere you go in solitary confinement, you’re cuffed. And they put me in a cell cuffed behind my back and I turn around to the chuckle to get the officer to take the cuffs off of me. And he said, no. Step to the back of the cell. You’re getting a roommate. So, I said, okay. So, I go to the back of the cell with the cuffs, and he puts another guy in there and that guy turns around to get the cuffs off.

When he looks at me, he’s got these two long shaped bones as decorations. One sticking out of both cheeks and one through his nostril. Something that you’re not allowed to have in prison. But because they had been implanted into his face while he was on the street, they couldn’t be removed without surgery. So, the Federal Bureau of Prisons had not removed these out of his face. He gets the cuffs off, and as he goes to walk by me and just blasted out the tattoos everywhere, the look in his eyes is the look of death. He pulls a big bone crushing knife out of his waistband. So, I’m in my very most vulnerable situation at this point.

I’ve got the cuffs on behind my back. I’m completely defenseless and I’m looking at him directly in the eye. And he’s looking at me directly in the eye, and he walks right by me, slides by me, and takes that giant knife and puts it up under the top bunk. I turn around slowly; the officer takes the cuff off of me and the officer shuts the chuck hole and walks off. He has no concept of what’s just happened. I turned around and looked at the man. He said, you’re a Christian, ain’t you? I said, yeah, I am a Christian. I said but let me ask something. Why would you ask me that? He said, I don’t know you. You don’t know me, and I’m back here in the hole right now for fighting. He said, I’m gonna tell you why I know that man, because I’m a devil worshiper. I’m a real one. I read the Satanic Bible. I read all the Bibles on witchcraft, and you’ll see that my property’s coming right now. You’re gonna see all these books that I have. This is what I do, and when they put me in this cell, I could feel vibrations in my body because of the spirit that’s in you. And that really affected him and me. One of the things that I learned as time went on and I started to delve more into my Christian walk and not being afraid to interview people about why they had the faith that they had in other religions, you never have to convince a devil worshiper or somebody that’s involved in santeria, or somebody that’s involved in voodoo. You never have to convince them about the existence of God or the existence of the spiritual realm. They know it, because they’ve seen stuff. Because they’re involved in the demonic. It’s only the Christian sometimes, if they’re involved in their religion and it doesn’t have that level of spirituality to it where they’re seeing the Holy Spirit do stuff, it’s only them that you have to convince sometimes about the existence of God’s ability to do these things.

So, he looked at me and he told me that he could feel vibrations because of the spirit that was in me and all that, that face that he was making, that murderous face turned into a face of fear, and he said, listen, please don’t ever touch me. I said, I’ll never touch you, man. He said, no, I’m serious, man, please don’t ever touch me. I said, brother, I can’t see a situation where I would touch you.

But this story gets really wild, man. So, I need your audience, to hear, brother, to really just lock in on this, because he gets all his books. He gets the Satanic Bible; he gets the books on all the different types of witchcraft that he’s involved in. And I got my Bible also. And I said, I’ll tell you what, I’ll make a deal with you, man. We’ll read out of this New Testament and we’ll read out of, whatever you got over there. And he said, you’re not scared of that. And I said, no, I’m not scared of that man. I’m covered in the blood of Jesus, brother. I’m protected from everything. And we started along that path, and we just continue on down that way. And we ended up just putting, he said, just go ahead and put that other one. After about a week and a half, he said, just put the other one away, man. We’ll just go ahead and finish up with the one that you got.

So, that affected me a lot and that really brought the reality of the supernatural. If it wasn’t in laser focus in my life after receiving baptism of the Holy Spirit, it certainly was now cuz I could tell that, that there were things going on that I couldn’t necessarily see or understand, but that they were real and that they were there.

So, I’m gonna fast forward in my life from that moment, which was in 2005, till 2017. In 2017, I was put in solitary confinement for 377 days. Solitary confinement is something that is practiced very aggressively in the United States. It’s a shame, with all the mental health issues that, that people are focused on. People in prison have a lot of mental health issues. I’m the last person anybody’d wanna talk to about prison reform because I know they need to be there and I know they need to exist, but I do believe some of the laws are upside down, and that’s a story for another day.

But so, they put me in solitary confinement for 377 days. During the course of this time, about a month into this time, I started to draw really close to God in that cell by myself. These cells had bars in front of ’em, so I couldn’t see anybody in front of me, but I could yell down the tear one way or the other. And as I was in there and just started reading that Bible and reading that Bible, I started to come across books by people like Derek Prince. Smith Wigglesworth, John g Lake, and I started to learn about fasting. So, I said, Lord, I need you to change the course of my life. I need you to change the course of my life in a radical, drastically radical way. And I started to learn how to fast. I started to do one day fast, two-day fast. So, if you remember, this is 2017, the only time I’d ever fasted in my life was back in 2003 when I first got born again. So, here comes the Lord again. He’s laying these fasts on me. So, I eventually, I built my way up, wake up, way up to where I would fast for a week at a time. And so, I’d fast for a week at a time and the guys around me, they were watching what was going on.

They knew what was going on because I would be giving my food away. And they’d be, what are you doing down there, man? Man, I’m just drawing closer to the Lord, man. I need the Lord to change the course of my life. They know me as an extremely standup man. They know that I’m not a man that went to prison and went and grabbed a Bible cause he was scared, because a lot of these guys, they either knew me, or knew of me from being in prison before I was ever born again. And they knew that I could be an absolute savage. So, they had to respect me and what I was saying and what I was doing. So, probably six months into this, the Lord really started to speak to me strongly through dreams.

He would show me things that were gonna happen within the next day or two. And then he would gimme a person’s name and the next day that person would walk out on the tier. So, this would happen so frequently that the men that I was communicating with, I was telling ’em, this is what’s going on, man. I, the Lord is really speaking to me.

The next time it happens, I’ll write it down. So, a few nights later, the Lord gave me a dream and he gave me a guy’s name. I took a piece of paper out and I wrote it down. I gave it to my neighbor. The next day, they brought two Latin King gang members from Chicago onto the tier and the unit was just in the uproar. They put ’em down the cell. I hollered down at dude, I said, I said, Hey home, if you don’t mind me asking, what’s your name? I said, I’m not on nothing down here. I’m just a Christian man. I said, if you don’t mind me asking. So, he hollered back his nickname and I said, no. I was hoping you might gimme your birth name. and he yelled out his first name. He said, my name’s Fernando. That’s the name that’s on the paper that my neighbors got. So, my neighbor, this dude is tripping. He’s yo, this is wild. I said, listen man, I got your name down here on a piece of paper. And I said, I don’t know what’s going on with your brother, but I know the Lord Jesus is trying to get your attention.

So, the man, the other Latin king that they brought up there with him, he yelled out and said, Hey, that’s crazy cuz the other day, man, you were just talking about how lost that you were feeling in your life. So, the guy got scared and he said, look, I don’t wanna talk about it out here where people can hear us yelling back and forth on this tier.

I said, send me a kite down here. So, he put a piece of paper together and shot it down there to me on a line and told me a little bit about himself. I wrote him back. Is there any chance somebody’s out there praying for you? He wrote me back. He said, yeah, my mom prays for me all the time. My brother just got murdered in Chicago. I said, that’s what it is, brother. Man, her prayers are getting her getting through, man. And the God’s trying to get your attention, man. And you know that man got born again back there. So, God started doing his thing back there, man, and because of what was happening with me and what God was putting on me, guys started getting saved.

I was seeing these skinhead guys. They would, we would have these Bible studies through the bars, and they would ask me questions and I would explain and dissect the foul doctrines that they’d been, that they’d been indoctrinated with their entire sentence, and just break it down to that pure word of God.

They started getting saved. Then they started fasting. I saw two guys back there received the baptism, the Holy Spirit. It was just, it was an incredible time. So, they would be getting released from solitary confinement to other prisons. They’d be put on the buses, then put on the planes and shipped by the feds of different prisons. They were taking that message with them. I was released, like I said, it was a little bit over a year. and when I got to the next prison, God just was there with me and in just a powerful way the whole time. And the stories of that are, they’re so in incredible in a way, but they’re not incredible if you’re walking with the Lord. If you’re really walking with the Lord tight man, they’re just not, man. But the supernatural was expected. I was constantly expecting God to do something amazing, and because I was always expecting that he would do something amazing, which would increase my faith for him to do something more amazing.

And the dreams continued, and I continued to minister like that and see men get saved and that’s, that’s how my life has come to where it is now. In 2020, he gave me a dream for, a Christian idea to put more frames of scripture, frames in people’s houses, how to do this, how to make it to where they wouldn’t have to buy seven or eight frames. They could just buy one, but it would change, once a day. And so, I got out of… I just kept that dream to myself. I got out of prison and just, I was overwhelmed by society. I had never seen Facebook. I’d never seen a smartphone. And I started to do the best that I could do to be a normal guy.

I started to go to the community college to take a construction course to learn how to do that, and the Lord spoke to me very clearly after I’d been there about five days. He spoke to me and he said, Steve, if you don’t do something with that idea, I’ll give it to somebody else. So, I said, okay, I gotta do something with it. You know what I mean? So, I started to investigate. I learned how to navigate on the internet, and that led me to a place over here in Peoria where I’m at the halfway house, Peoria, Illinois. That led me to a place called the Peoria Next Innovation Center, where they’re always looking for new ideas and innovations.

And I had started to talk to the director, and I told him my story and who I was and what I’d done in my life. And we went over the idea, and he said, I don’t even know if it will work, but we will definitely check into it. And here we are. I’ve been going up there now seven months, and I’ve got functioning prototypes.

I got an investor to come in and we, I’ve got a manufacturer that’s building ’em, and we just have this huge thing going on. And I wrote a book about my life, and it’s currently in the last stages of being edit. And we’re gonna do a Kickstarter campaign for the product. And I joined a men’s group here and of course started going to church and guys just, they’ve really been blessed man.

They’ve really been blessed by what the Lord has done in my life. Family and friends that are still alive after 20 years, a lot of people are dead or in prison, but they’re just, they’re amazed. But at the same time, they’ll reach out to me constantly on Facebook and they’ll say, please don’t stop doing what you’re doing. Don’t stop doing what you’re doing, because they know that I was a, I was that guy. I was the leader of the drug crew. I would come outta prison and become a leader of a drug crew again. I was not just barely, dabbling in the criminal world. I committed a felony every single day that I was free from the time I was 15 until I was 26.

That’s my story. That’s what God’s done in my life. Nothing’s impossible with the Lord. I know that. I continue to walk in that and believe that and stand on faith, and, and I hope you’re blessed by this.

Producer Luke: Steven, thank you so much for your time, for shedding light on a lifestyle that not many of us know much about, and showing us that no matter what happens, we can be redeemed. Here’s another story showing how Seattle’s Union Gospel mission is redeeming lost souls, right here in Washington.

Narrator: Helping The Lost Become found with Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission doesn’t just provide food and shelter; they offer a path out of homelessness. Giving men and women a safe place to recover from addiction and start on the path toward a new life.

SUGM Testimonial: I was an alcoholic and drug addict for 49 years. The only time I didn’t drink or do drugs was when I was pregnant one day, I was evicted from my house for an unpaid water bill. It was the first time in my life I was homeless. My family didn’t want anything to do with me. I was being abused heavily, and I knew I hit rock bottom, but also, I knew God was with me. My ex-husband told me about the Mission, and when I walked through those doors, the women there hugged me and said, welcome home. I am a different woman today because of them. Thank God for the Mission. They saved my life.

Narrator: Even when it seems impossible to see, hope can be found. Local men and women in our area desperately need a fresh start, and that’s what they find at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. From learning, to trust again to that first hot meal, to a recovery program, and then job training. The mission’s recovery programs offer counseling, case management, chemical dependency classes, and so much more. To hear this story again and hear other stories, visit

To hear more, volunteer, or donate, visit

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