After falling in with a bad crowd and immersing himself in a life of crime, Andrew Gason gave a Ted Talk on how Scientology saved his life
Andrew Gason is a Samoan who was raised in South Auckland, New Zealand. At the age of 15, he found out his parents had adopted him. At the same time, his mother abandoned him and his father and they divorced. He went into a deep depression and fell in with a bad crowd. He began using drugs and entered into a life of crime.
The new group he became friends with taught him how to steal car stereos, run from the police, hide from police dogs, etc. For the next five years, he stole car stereos and other items, he began robbing houses, and living a life filled with crime. He would sneak out at night and commit crimes all night after his father went to bed, and sneak back home before his father got up the next morning. He ended up spending half of his life working as a part of the criminal underworld and involving himself in every possible crime. He committed local burglaries as a kid and was robbing about 7-10 houses every week. His hobby then evolved into smuggling weapons internationally. Eventually, he went to prison.
Gason was released from prison in 1998 and he began looking for some new direction in life. Through a variety of community programs, he educated himself in life skills. He studied a number of religions and beliefs including Christianity, Catholicism, Buddhism, and Scientology. He had been locked out of contemporary education because he had quit school when he was younger, and he was unable to enter the workforce because he had no prior education or training. With his life hidden behind the shroud of crime, he had gotten himself so off the grid that he had trouble trying to live life back on the grid.
While studying the practice of Scientology, he did a course called Personal Values and Integrity, which taught him the value of right from wrong. Most importantly, the course involved him owning up to his crimes. When he began writing them down, he felt the burdens lift with each crime he confessed, and, by the end, he had confessed to over 900 crimes. He was told how to apply the basic life fundamentals to his criminal history. He turned himself in to the New Zealand Police and presented his list of crimes. He was told he might have to serve life in prison if convicted of all of those crimes.
Somehow, the files were lost in the system and even though he was able to go free, the Personal Values and Integrity mentors at the Church of Scientology told him that the right thing to do would be to give back to the community to make things right after all of the damage he had caused. He did over 2000 hours of community service over the next 12 months. After those first 12 months, the NZ police gave Gason an official document stating that he was exonerated of all crimes he had committed prior to that date. He was given a second chance and decided he wanted to turn his life around.
Ever since then, he has dedicated his life to helping other people. He has worked with many communities and shared his life experiences and knowledge to help young people improve their lives. He has influenced and helped countless young people turn away from lives of crime and get off drugs. He has also helped with literacy programs and human rights education.
He has a vision of uniting all cultural communities and using all of the shared resources to support one another to help each other become self-sustained and independent. He wants to teach other people how to gain skills and knowledge and work together as one community to help support people in need. He feels that through everything he has been through, Scientology has helped him find successful methods to achieve this by using the networks he has found and formed along the way.