While awaiting sentencing for defrauding investors with a $65 billion Ponzi scheme, Bernard Madoff has undergone what friends and family are describing as a jailhouse conversion that has given him new hope despite the near certainty of life imprisonment. Apparently, immediately following the trial, telelvangelist and prosperity preacher Kenneth Copeland flew to New York in one of his ministry's fleet of private planes to visit Madoff in jail and share his unique gospel message.
"As soon as I heard Bernie's story, I sensed a kindred spirit," said Copeland. "I received a word in my heart that this man has the skills-I mean spirit, I, I mean Holy Spirit-to become an important part of our ministry."
Copeland, himself a subject of a Senate investigation for an extravagant lifestyle bankrolled by his non-profit ministry, said that his conversation with Madoff was very fruitful.
"Bernie confessed that he was a guilty of a debt he could not pay," said Copeland. "And I just laid my hands on him and we prayed a prayer that if he would just believe God for a rescue, that he would be blessed a hundredfold. Praise the Lord! ... All he has to do is tell me where the rest of the money is. We call that a 'seed gift.'"
When reminded that authorities have seized all of Madoff's assets, Copeland was surprisingly candid: "I wouldn't have gotten to where I am today if I let a little ole' thing like Johnny Law get in the way of my kingdo-I mean God's kingdom-now would I? Just between you and me and the Lord, we all know he's got it squirrled away in some kind of offshore account. And besides, Kenny needs a Gulfstream G650, thank you Jesus-my Citation X doesn't have nearly enough legroom."
Said Madoff of his conversion, "I had no idea you could do this legally. After talking with Kenneth, I can see I've been going about this in the wrong way entirely and have been wasting my life. But all of that is going to change. Um, praise ... the God."
Though in jail, and likely to be imprisoned for the rest of his natural life-thank you Lord-Madoff has already begun to practice his newfound calling.
"I tell my fellow inmates, 'If you give me a seed gift of 10 packs of cigarettes, and believe God for it, you'll receive a 100 pack blessing in return!' And if they come back later and say, 'Hey, I gave you all those cigarettes and nothing happened.' Then I say, 'You must not have enough faith. You may want to consider another seed gift.'"
"Meanwhile, I have enough cigarettes to buy and sell anyone in this joint. I'm also having a Jacuzzi put in my cell-right next to my 102-inch HD plasma TV, once we knock this wall though and put in the solarium-you know, open things up a bit."
When asked what difference a life of daily discipleship of following Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior had made for him, Madoff, responded, "What did who with the what now?"