Duane Chapman, more commonly known as Dog the Bounty Hunter, achieved widespread fame when his mesmerizing career chasing down criminals became the subject of a reality TV show.
Chapman, star of “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” which aired new episodes from 2003 to 2012, is known for being tough and fierce, but he’s also a devout Christian who came to embrace faith after spending time in prison in the 1970s.
Chapman, 69, recently told “The Prodigal Stories Podcast” about his personal journey and spiritual roots.
“My great, great grandmother was a Christian,” he said. “She was a pastor. My mother … all day long, her whole life, all she did was pray for us.”
Growing up, Chapman said church attendance was compulsory.
“We had to go to church, or [my mom] took the keys away from my motorcycle,” he joked.
But while Chapman was raised in the church, he started to fall away from his faith during his younger years, taking a more flippant approach to living a biblical life.
Listen to Chapman tell his story:
“I was committed, and then, I thought, ‘God’s really busy in Vietnam, so He’s not going to care really what I do as long as I say the blessing and keep God kind of first,'” Chapman said.
That plan didn’t work out so well. Chapman’s journey eventually led him to crime as well as a difficult crossroads, forcing him to decide between continuing in a life of corruption — or making a significant life change.
“After going to prison in the 70s in Texas for 18 months, I realized right then that, at the end of this rainbow of crime and all that, is not a bucket of gold, it’s a cell,” he said.
Chapman and three accomplices reportedly broke into a man’s home on a search for marijuana. One of his accomplices shot and killed the man during a struggle. Chapman was sentenced to five years and served the aforementioned 18 months.
But he said his mother never gave up on trying to keep him connected to the Lord. After his release from prison, she would often play Bible recordings while he slept, likely hoping the Scriptures would make a difference in his life.
“As I slept, my mom put on a recording of the Bible, and every morning, when I woke up, I’m like, ‘Mom, why did you?’ She’s like, ‘I don’t know who that turned on.'”
Chapman knew, though. And he understood what his mom was trying to do. Over time, his heart did begin to change. At first, Chapman embarked on intentional quests to be kind and it soon became second nature.
“I started acting nice. I’m an Indian outlaw, so I started acting like I wasn’t,” he said. “Then I started thinking, ‘What would Jesus do right now?’ … I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to slap [someone] or something, and I’d think, ‘Jesus would not do that.'”
Chapman continued, “I started pretending to be good and, all the sudden, I started being good.”
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Ultimately, Chapman became a bounty hunter and, over his 43-year career, claims to have captured 8,000 fugitives. His tough past has helped him minister to and speak with offenders to assist them in righting their wrongs.
“I would capture guys and tell them, ‘Listen, man, I’ve been there, done that … we need supernatural help,'” he said.
After decades of bounty hunting, Chapman said he wants to share this truth with others.
“I am not a preacher — never will be,” he said. “But I have a message.”
Listen to “The Prodigal Stories Podcast” to hear more of that powerful message.
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