Paul Holway’s Testimony—A Life Taken—But Grace Given

My testimony is a story of God rescuing me from such a darkness that was intent on destroying me along with the people in my life. My testimony shows just how far the Lord is willing to reach in order to redeem just one single life. My testimony tells of the great work of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I came from a Christian home; two parents, an older brother, a younger sister, and myself. I grew up in the church so I knew all the popular Bible stories and was taught about God. Although I spent my beginning years learning about God, I did not have a personal relationship with Him. I knew of Him, but I didn’t know Him. As I grew up, I began to get into trouble at school and at home. I started feeling isolated and withdrawn. I felt like nobody loved me and I started to turn all of my emotions inward. Those emotions became anger and hatred.

Between the ages of nine to eleven, my emotions were all over the place and highly intensified. I felt like I was being physically abused at home. In reality when looking back now, I was not abused. I was punished by getting spanked. Sometimes bruises and welts were left and that’s when I felt abused. Through my perception of being abused, a fear grew in me and I was more and more withdrawn and that caused me to become suicidal. I looked for ways to release all the anger and hate that was inside of me so I hurt animals which sometimes resulted in death. With being “abused” at home and picked on at school, that was the only way I felt in control. The animals couldn’t defend themselves any more than I could.

On November 17th 1988, I made a decision that proved to change the direction of my life and the lives of my family. Through everything that was building up inside me to this point and the trouble I got into at school that day, the only way that came to mind to get out of trouble at home was to shoot my little sister, Bethany. I believed that if I shot her, that everyone would be afraid of me and would not hurt me anymore. That afternoon after school, I shot and killed Bethany. She was eight years old and I was twelve.

To this day, I don’t understand everything that transpired, but I know there was such a heavy, dark presence that day and I could feel it so tangibly. The enemy of my soul intended on destroying my family at that time and he almost succeeded. I received a sentence of five years (considered juvenile life as that was the longest a juvenile could legally serve). The following years were filled with darkness and incredible amounts of despair. I was locked up at the age of twelve and released at seventeen.

During my time in jail, God had His hand on me the entire time. At different times throughout those five years, He interjected Himself into my life through visitors, Bible study groups, CMA (Christian Motorcyclist Association), and other similar groups. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but I see it very clearly as I look back. During that time and long after, so many people prayed for me and my family. I can certainly attest to the power those prayers had.

Upon release, I was welcomed home by my parents and was preparing to start my senior year in high school. Right away, I hooked up with some of my old friends and started using drugs and alcohol. I was still suicidal and ended up cutting my wrist deep enough I severed the nerve and most of my tendon. God protected my life that day.

After graduation, I got in trouble and was charged with a felony. By God’s grace alone, I received three years of supervised probation instead of the prison sentence the district attorney was trying to get me. That was my wakeup call by God. I vividly remember thinking this was my last chance to change my life or I am done.

I moved out of town, got married, and through a series of events, I met a co-worker who was a Christian biker, along with her husband. She started to share Jesus with me and at the age of twenty-one, I went to a church service with them and ended up giving my life to Jesus. Prayers were answered. PRAISE GOD!!!

As I started my new life as a Christian, I struggled big time. I was dealing with a failing marriage and decided to leave; I started drinking again, had sex with an ex-girlfriend while still married and separated, and still battled all the turmoil going on inside from my past. After four months of separation, God brought my wife and I back together as He began to heal our relationship.

From that time on, God has done a tremendous amount of work in me. He put my destroyed life together piece by piece. It was time to deal with the one thing that I refused to let go of—Bethany. No matter what God healed in me, I would not let Him touch Bethany and all the feelings associated with my taking her life. I truly believed God forgave me for every sin I ever committed and will commit, but He couldn’t, or worse yet, wouldn’t forgive me for killing Bethany.
God worked on me and put specific people into my life and after twenty-five years of holding on to the shame and guilt of killing Bethany, I released her to God. That night of letting her go is forever etched into my mind as it was the very first time I ever felt and knew complete freedom and forgiveness. That night, the Holy Spirit told me so deep in my spirit that I’m special and I believed it for the first time.

The years following that night, God has opened up doors for me to share His love with so many people. God has turned a horrible tragedy that was meant to destroy into something life giving—spiritually life giving. He has restored my relationship with my family. Me and my wife just passed our 22nd wedding anniversary and have an almost seventeen-year-old son. I have shared my story of hope and redemption on KLOVE radio, Celebrate Recovery groups, church youth groups, Teen Challenge, Hillsong Channel and other groups. I have shared my testimony in great detail in my book, Life After. God has also spoken to many people through my second book, The Shame Identity. I currently volunteer at our local Youth Detention Center and that is an absolute highlight in my life. God has led me into this facility to speak into these young men’s lives and share His love with them on a continual basis. How incredibly cool is that? Isn’t God so good?

As I come to the end, or the beginning rather, all of this is purely to brag on Jesus. He reached down into such an evil darkness and gave me life. He loves me enough that He died for me and I get to share Him with anyone who will listen. I am a child of God and look forward to an eternity with Him!

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4 thoughts on “Paul Holway’s Testimony—A Life Taken—But Grace Given”

  1. Jesus never leave you nor he ever forsake you and I thank my lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST for his grace in you.
    May you continue to stay in faith and soon one day you will meet Bethany with open arms.
    Bethany has forgiven you.

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