My Father Was a Gangster - The Jim Vaus Story
By Will Vaus
One of the most fascinating conversion stories of the 20th century, My Father Was a Gangster tells the dramatic life story of Jim Vaus, the former associate of crime syndicate boss Mickey Cohen. Rarely, if ever, has there been another story of a gangster who turned so radically from a life of organized crime to a life focused on leading others to Christ.
In this book, son Will Vaus tells the inside story of his father’s nefarious life in the syndicate and describes how close his father came to being caught for devising a scheme that was later said to have been the inspiration for the movie, “The Sting”. Just before carrying out his plan, Jim Vaus was persuaded to drop into the famous Billy Graham tent meetings taking place in Los Angeles in 1949, and almost against his own will, found himself compelled to “walk the sawdust trail” to the front of the gathering and along with hundreds of others, give his life to Christ.
The author describes the dramatic transformation that took place in his father’s life as he makes amends for his many wrongs and sets his course on a new life that is honoring to God and that brings many others into the Kingdom. This story has been recounted in Time Magazine, Life Magazine and Reader’s Digest and was chronicled in a motion picture, “The Wiretapper.” Now it is told from a son’s perspective, a son who watched his father go on to live an exemplary life, dedicated to saving others from falling victim to the life of crime that had sought to destroy him.
William "Will" James Vaus, B.A., M.Div., has served as a pastor in California, the Carolinas and Pennsylvania. He is the president of Will Vaus Ministries, through which he has creatively communicated the love of Christ around the world since 1988. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in drama from the University of California at San Diego and a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. His book, Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C.S. Lewis, was published by InterVarsity Press in 2004. Will and his wife Becky have been married since 1988 and have three sons: James, Jonathan and Joshua.