By Max Devantier —
Without motive, Alexander Pagani stabbed two 17-year-old inmates at Rikers Island Prison Complex just to make a statement.
“If I was going to be evil, I would become very evil,” he says on a 700 Club video.
That landed him in solitary confinement for one year. That’s where God started dealing with him.
From his earliest childhood in The Bronx, New York City, Alexander felt complete abandonment by his parents, who were lost in the drug culture.
“I felt completely rejected and totally embraced that sense of orphan or abandonment,” he says. “I just lived for myself like it’s just me and I’m gonna, do whatever I have to do to survive.”
To survive he joined a gang. By 11, he was getting arrested. By 14, he spent a year in juvenile imprisonment. By 16, he was doing time for robbery, burglary and kidnapping.
While waiting his trial in the infamous Rikers prison, he stabbed two 17-year-olds.
“I stabbed them for no reason, honestly, just to make a statement,” Alexander admits.
The subsequent solitary confinement began breaking him down. His Grandmother was a Christian who reached out to him. So was his Aunt Vilma, and she worked in Rikers as a youth counselor and would talk to him whenever she could. A Christian guard took interest in him and began ministering to him.
He made up his mind that he didn’t want to go to Hell.
At his hearing, Alexander heard a voice. It wasn’t his lawyers. It wasn’t the judge’s. It wasn’t the bailiff’s. He marvelled at whose it might be.
“They’re going to give you nine years, you are to take it.”
Immediately, his eyes fixed on “God” in the phrase “In God We Trust” on the wall behind the judge. “The word God shot like rays of light,” he says.
If he pled guilty, the judge explained, he would lower the sentence from 21 years to nine. Alexander blurted out and admitted his guilt even before his lawyer could say anything. “I knew God was talking to me,” he says.
Returned to his cell, he wrote his aunt.
“When I wrote the words ‘because I want to go to Heaven,’ Jesus Christ came in my cell, and he whispered in my ear, ‘Follow me.’
“It felt like things were breaking off of me and I felt so peaceful. I fell asleep and when I woke up the next day, I was a changed man.”
As he read his Bible, he realized that God was his Father. But relating to God as Father was very difficult for him because his earthly father had been such a poor example. When he finally accepted God as his Father, something special happened.
“I realized that my relationship with the Lord is based on me loving Him, not fearing him,” Alexander says. “I began to love Him. I love Him to this day. He’s my Father. He’s everything that I have.”
“Make the transition. Surrender to the Lord,” he says. “He’ll radically change your life.”
Max Devantier studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.