Photo by Lucas Wiman Photography
I was raised in a middle class, church-going family. My dad was a deacon at the church and we were in church three times a week. I was very involved in youth group and loved going to church. I was very involved in sports in high school and lived a clean life. I didn’t get in trouble. When I was 16 a friend offered me a prescription pain pill. I was scared to break the rules—I had never even drank. But for some reason, I took the drug and for the next five years, that was my life. All it took was one time. I went from using every weekend, to every day, to eventually injecting drugs.
I had made my confession of faith at 10 years old in the church, but from 16–21 I decided God was not for me. I wanted to do my own thing. I was reckless and carefree. When I got to college things got worse. My life was out of control. I was stealing and selling drugs to support my habit. I had no morality. I was obsessed with filling myself with whatever I wanted, not thinking about the consequences.
My family knew something was wrong but they had no idea it was drugs. They encouraged me to move in with my aunt in another town, and I did. Everyone thought I was still going to college, but every day I was driving to another town to get drugs. One day when I was on the highway, my radio had no reception so I turned it to the AM radio and hit “scan.” It stopped on a gospel station with a man giving a sermon. He said, “If you are addicted to prescription pain pills, there is a way out. It’s Jesus.” It felt like he was right in front of me slamming his fist down and saying “Stop right now!” I kept driving and several miles later a police pulled me over. I had been going 100 mph. I didn’t have drugs with me but I had a suspended license for two previous tickets for not wearing a seat belt. Because I was driving (and speeding!) on a suspended license, I was arrested and thrown in jail. I called my sister and lied about what happened. She got me out of jail. My court date was the next day and they told me NOT to miss it or I would be arrested. I had no intention of making the court date. I got my car and went back on my way to buy the drugs, except this time I decided I would buy a LOT of drugs because it was my birthday weekend. I bought $500–$600 worth of oxycodone and oxycotin. The next day I was going to meet a friend to do drugs and I was stopped at a traffic light. I hit the car in front of me so hard that my roof buckled. A little old lady got out of the car and came back to see if I was okay. I had drugs in my car and knew that if the police came this would be very bad, so I told her we needed to get out of the traffic and to pull into the bank parking lot across the street. She did and I drove right onto the interstate, leaving her there.
Two days later my mom called and said the insurance company had called her and said I was in a hit and run. I lied to her and told her I was in school. But I knew I was caught. I decided to drive out of state, but as I was driving something in me said, “Turn around. You have to face this.” I drove to the hospital where my aunt worked as a physician’s assistant. She was getting ready to go into surgery but she came out. I said, “I’m a severe drug addict and I’m in a whole lot of trouble.” She said, “Obey the traffic laws and go to my house and wait until someone comes to get you.”
My mom and dad were so faithful in their prayers for me and their love for me. Two days before I was arrested, my mom had gotten down on her face to pray for me. She asked God to reveal whatever I was doing, to have it come into the open. Two days later I was arrested. Shortly after, I confessed.
My family got me into a hospital where I went through medical detox for six days. After this, I went to a Christian rehab facility. Here I got my relationship back with Christ. Many older homeless men in the rehab center took me under their wing and told me I could overcome it. The first time I was allowed to call home, I found out one of the friends I did drugs with killed himself, the guy who introduced me to drugs when I was 16 had overdosed and had to be brought to life, and then this….
The woman I rear-ended and then tricked and abandoned was a preacher’s wife, and she didn’t want to press charges. Her forgiveness and compassion for me…it was so undeserved, so unexpected. I get emotional even now thinking of it.
When I think of all the things that happened, I know they could not have been coincidences. God was in it all… saving me.
I graduated the rehab program in nine months and then felt God call me to ministry. But I didn’t want to do it. I got a job at an electronics store and someone there offered me a pain pill. I took it and got back into using drugs, but only for a short time. I did what I had learned in rehab…I called my mom and dad and told them and they took me into their home so I could detox. I haven’t used drugs since then and that was eight years ago.
I still felt the call to go into the ministry but I still didn’t want to do it. I wasn’t willing to give up my lifestyle. I was being selfish. I fought this calling for several years and then called my preacher and told him about it. He prayed with me and said, “If God is calling you to go into ministry, then you have to do it.”
Shortly after this meeting, my mom texted me, telling me about an opportunity to volunteer in a Christian homeless shelter. I was working at Cracker Barrel but began volunteering at the shelter once a week. When I began volunteering, the executive director of the shelter was a Harvard educated, Christ-centered man who became a great mentor to me. After a couple of months, he asked me to join the shelter as a full-time employee, and I agreed. For three years, he taught me communication skills, how to manage resources, how to deal with conflict, and many other skills. In 2015 I took over the Executive Director position.
I met my wife at the shelter. She was a nursing student and was assigned to do her clinical course work at the shelter. My wife has a strong faith. She inspires me and challenges me in my relationship with Christ every day. I was on the right path but she helps me be stronger. We now have a small farm together.
How could I have ever gone from where I was to this?! Only God! God is loving and loves in a way that is beyond our comprehension. God knows everything I did—the worst of it—things no one else knows…but I am blameless before Him because of Christ. God has so much grace. Even though I resisted, God brought me into the ministry. Working at the shelter, I get to tell people who feel hopeless about true hope in Christ. I get to tell them about the peace and joy that God promises, the peace and joy that I experience that comes from my relationship with Jesus. Jesus died to redeem me and transform me; He has done this and He is doing this still today. He saved and transformed me and He can do this for others too!
A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.