As corruption charges loomed, Jimmy knew he needed a complete supernatural makeover
Putting his love of politics to good use, Jimmy Crosby was skilled at winning the trust and respect of those around him, but even as Secretary of Florida's Corrections Department he still felt empty and fell into accepting kickbacks.
"To achieve the success, admiration and respect I craved, I became a master manipulator, playing relationships to my own advantage," Jimmy confesses.
"I loved politics more than anything."
As part of his manipulation tactics Jimmy says he used the correct rhetoric and moral principles of his church upbringing to fool others that he was a Christian.
Ascending to City Commissioner and then Mayor of his small town, he used those positions to fast track his main job with the Department of Corrections, where he became Director.
Governor Jeb Bush then personally invited him to join his cabinet as Secretary of Florida Department of Corrections.
Jimmy thought this responsibility for 25,000 state employees over 70 institutions and a 2.5 billion dollar budget would finally help him feel important.
"My ego should be satisfied, but it isn't," he recalls thinking instead. "Why do I feel so empty?"
Despite his confidence that "everyone was fooled" that he was a Christian, Jimmy later found out that his mother was praying that God would grab his attention.
After two years as a small town boy in a fast city, he confesses that he accepted kickbacks from those who were "professionals at feeding egos".
"I facilitated a contract between a new 'friend' and the agency, a violation of Federal law. I took gifts worth $30,000. Later court records state that no one lost a single dime (in fact, everyone made money). Nonetheless, I had violated 'the public trust'."
The fear and torment of being uncovered soon became unbearable, Jimmy says, until he found relief in a book his mother had given him on the life of Billy Graham called 'The Journey'.
"It recounted his conflict in his early ministry with the truthfulness of the Bible as God's Word," Jimmy explains.
"He resolved it by going into the woods and praying to God that He believed His inspired Word and would preach it as truth.
"I knew that this was my real problem. Although I heard God's Word repeatedly, I had not really believed it to be truth."
In September 2005, Jimmy prayed, "God, I believe this is your Word and its message is that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to die for me and that through faith in His name you have saved me."
Crying tears of joy, Jimmy immediately told his wife and made his complete surrender to Jesus publicly known at the next church service through public baptism.
On Christmas Eve, 2005, Jimmy gave his testimony in a prison, and the following February Governor Bush asked him to resign.
"When the FBI called I resolved to tell the truth," Jimmy says.
The year-long wait until his sentencing was emotionally exhausting but it also stimulated his relationship with God.
"I began trusting that God could take care of my every need. When I woke, fear would rush over me. I didn't want to go out in public or go to church where all the 'good people' were.
"If I was a Christian why did I feel this? Hadn't Christ forgiven me?"
After hours in the Bible and in prayer, Jimmy read from Acts 26:15-18 that described how Jesus appeared to the Apostle Paul, forgave him and commissioned him to be His messenger, even though he was a former murderer and persecutor of Jesus' followers.
Jimmy says the grace of God to forgive Paul impacted him: "Accepting God's forgiveness and knowing I'm a 'new creation' in Jesus Christ is what gives me a second chance at a full life."
In 2007 Jimmy was sentenced to eight years in a West Virginia prison where he was assigned to the prison chapel and was able to continue his seminary classes and achieve a doctorate in theology.
"Ironically, in prison I felt less fear and greater peace than I ever had before," he says.
In visits with his wife Leslie and daughter Brittany (who made a 28-hour round trip), Jimmy explained his new relationship with Jesus.
"To this day, Leslie shocks people by saying she would not have changed what we have gone through for all the riches in the world," Jimmy shares with a broad grin.
After just five and a half years Jimmy was released, and was soon invited to teach at a seminary on Paul's prison letters. Jimmy sees it as a divine irony: "My take was a little different from other professors as I couldn't keep from crying when I spoke of 'chains being broken'."
He was then 60 years of age but says, "I had no doubt that God was calling me into full-time ministry. The Holy Spirit reminded me how Jesus called the apostle Paul: 'Rise and stand to your feet... I now send you, to open their eyes' (Acts 26:16-18)."