#156. He Has Been Waiting For You

 Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

I grew up in Cuba where I earned my doctorate degree in veterinary science in 1997. For four years, I had a very successful, busy practice specializing in surgery. But I felt something was missing. I had an emptiness in my life. I was not a Christian but did know that the spiritual world existed. I decided to go to a Methodist church in my city for a revival. There were several hundred people there but the pastor pointed me out and said, “God has a plan for your life. He wants to use you and He has been waiting for you.” I didn’t believe in Christ so I moved to the back of the church. The pastor started praying for people and they started falling on the ground. I didn’t know what was going on. I am a naturally curious person and this intrigued me.

The next day I went back to the revival and the pastor said the same thing to me. I still wasn’t picking up on this message. I just really wanted to see what he was doing and was there only as an observer. When he did an altar call I ran to the front to see what he was doing. There was a long line of people waiting. The pastor was praying and saying “Holy Spirit come!” and people would fall on the ground when he prayed for them. I was in line for him to pray for me and prepared myself not to fall. When he prayed over me, I fell to the floor laughing and crying. A couple of my friends tried to help me up but I couldn’t get up. Finally, I got up and left the church wondering, “What was that?”  During the months that followed, I continued to reflect on what had happened and I continued to feel that same emptiness that took me to church in the first place.

After six months, I went back to the same church and received Christ. Finally, the emptiness was gone. When I came to Christ, all of my passion and drive were channeled for Christ. I became a tsunami, sharing the Gospel and bringing people to the church.  A month after I became a Christian, I left Cuba to move to the United States. Shortly before I left, in December of 2001, the church leadership called me in and told me that I would become a pastor. I didn’t believe it and laughed at them. But two months later, in February of 2002, I was a pastor at a church.

I came to U.S. chasing the American dream. I had my own plan but God challenged me to take His dreams and not mine. I moved to a city in the Midwest where my sister lived. I sought out a Methodist church to learn English and when I got there I knew more English than the teacher did. So, they asked me to teach the English class. Then the church asked me to teach a Bible Study. Then they asked me to give a sermon. I had only been a believer 6 months and I was preaching! People were coming to church and getting baptized. The Bishop in the Methodist church felt I needed training because I didn’t have the credentials to baptize people. He asked me to go to school to become licensed to baptize and preach which I did. I was still working as a veterinarian at this point.

My wife had come to the U.S. with me and she helped me plant a church in the Midwestern city where we were living.  After this, the Methodist church sent me to a rural area in Kentucky where my wife and I planted a second church. The Holy Spirit told me that the church would be for people coming from different places. I had a dream that the church was packed with people and the very next Sunday people started coming from all different places and the church was full. There were many baptisms. I was 29 years old and had given up my career in veterinary medicine for full time ministry. It was an exciting time. The church was growing and my wife and I had a vision for our future together. But then one day we were coming from a pastoral meeting and I had a car accident and my wife was killed. I was injured as well. I passed out or was dead – I’m not sure – but while this occurred I remember that my wife and I were together, lifted up above the scene of the accident and together we were walking toward the light. But I let go of her hand and she kept walking. She looked back and smiled at me and kept walking away from me into the light.

I didn’t blame God for the death of my wife. I had spent much time with Christ beforehand in prayer, fasting and reading the Bible and this helped prepare me for what happened. When dark moments of life come, your relationship with Christ is what really defines what you are going to do.  Still there was much grief and pain. I loved my wife. We had many plans together and then she was gone. It was difficult to imagine my life without her. I left the church where I was pastoring and went to my sister’s house. There I went into a room, locked the door and began fasting, praying and reading the Bible. Eventually I felt the Holy Spirit say to me, “Stop looking for your wife in the past. She is not in your past. She is in your future. Keep walking forward and you will see her again.” I remembered the day of the accident seeing my wife walking into the light. I just needed to keep walking with Jesus and I would see her again in heaven.

This message from the Holy Spirit lit a fire under me. I was ready to preach again but this time with more urgency. I went to my sister and told her I needed a pulpit and that same day three churches called me and wanted me to plant a church for them. I met with each of the pastors at these churches to see which I felt called to work with.  I had felt the Holy Spirit calling me to preach the gospel in the Dominican Republic so when I went to stay at one of the three pastor’s homes and saw a photo of two pastors from the Dominican Republic on his refrigerator, I knew that he was the one. The other two pastors offered health insurance and a parsonage, neither of which this pastor could offer me, but I didn’t care. I knew that God wanted me to go to the Dominican Republic and this pastor had the connection there. I started a church plant for this pastor and people started coming to Christ. It grew so much that the parent church became enveloped into the planted church.  A year later, in 2004, I was in Dominican Republic planting a church. I have been back in the U.S. since 2005 pastoring a church and providing leadership training and coaching for pastors.

As I reflect back on my journey with Christ, I think about what the pastor said the first time I went to church in 2001, “God has a plan for your life. He wants to use you. He has been waiting for you.” I resisted at first, even bracing myself against the power of the Holy Spirit. But God was patient with me. He didn’t give up on me. He pursued me until I came to Him and gave my life to Christ. And once I surrendered my life and my plan, God’s power was unleashed in my life. God has shown me that life with Him is the only way to true joy, peace and contentment. His plans are better than my plans…much better. God has been so faithful to me in every part of my life, guiding me to the right places and right people not only for my own good but to be used by Him for the good of others. He provided comfort and encouragement when I lost my wife and restored more than what was lost. I have married again to a wonderful wife and we have a beautiful seven-year-old daughter named Sulam, which is a Hebrew name meaning open heavens.  I know that God is with me, working everything out for good.

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.

#155 Celebrating the Milestones

 Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

My parents were young and there were some problems at home. ​I moved out when I was 16 years old. I got pregnant when I was 17 and then got married. I got pregnant again when I was 18. The marriage ended in divorce when I was 22. After my divorce, I thought it would be best to move back with my children to my hometown where I had family and friends. My ex-husband hired an attorney who told the judge many bad things about my home county. The judge said he couldn’t prove I was an unfit mother but that my home county was such a bad place to raise children that he had to award residential custody of the children to their father. 

This was a turning point for me. I started not caring about anything after losing my children. I went to see a doctor and was prescribed a nerve pill.  I started taking massive amounts of these daily. This became a lifestyle and because of multiple arrests and drug charges I was unable to get a job. I felt trapped into selling drugs to make a living. For 16 years, this was my life.  I was locked up for many years. I lost so much time with my children and my mom. My mom had always been there for me and had continued to be a support to me. But she passed away while I was still in addiction. 

I never stopped believing in God, and one night in the jail cell I asked God to help me. Sometime later, I was offered drug treatment at a residential center instead of incarceration. About that time, I was allowed to leave jail to attend my uncle’s funeral. While I was there I told my dad about the offer to go to treatment. I told him I wasn’t going to go, that I planned to cut my ankle bracelet and run again. He tried to talk me out of it. I really was tired of running so I agreed to get treatment. But once I was there I wanted to leave. I was going to run away, but there was a massive snowstorm and I couldn’t. I know that was God keeping me there!

I could see the women at the home laughing and having a good time and wanted to know why they were joyful. I started to become more open to the idea of a life without drugs. The CEO came around for a tour of our home and I heard him talking about a job opportunity if we would complete the program and stay clean a year. I asked him afterwards, “I have 17 felonies but you would hire me?” He said, “Absolutely.” That was the turning point. Then I started taking treatment seriously. But I hadn’t had any hope of any kind of decent life for 16 years. I knew God had to help me—and He did.

While I was in treatment, we went to church and I started getting it. I heard a sermon from Luke on building a good foundation. I knew that l needed a good foundation moving forward. After I completed my treatment, I became an intern with the addiction program, but that didn’t work out so I worked as a volunteer in return for my rent as a part of a church program. During those three months, I was really soul searching. God was really working on me.  It felt so good to have my life back. I knew that I wanted use the rest of my life to help people. I got a new job as an intern in a different department, with the same addiction program I had been with before. I truly believe God put me in this department because it is such a good fit for me. My supervisor is a woman. She is the same type of person I am and God placed her in my life as a mentor.

During my internship, I made a mistake and got into a relationship with a recovering addict. I felt like God was telling me the relationship wasn’t healthy and that it would be easy to slip back into addiction. I stayed clean and stepped away from that relationship, but I was already pregnant when I left. I had no idea how I was going to provide for the baby. But God provided people in my life to help me. The organization I was interning with provided an apartment for me during the internship. After one year, I was hired full-time as the Intake Coordinator in the program and one year later I was promoted to Assistant Director of Intake. These opportunities provided the income for me to take care of myself and the baby. God also gave me a family at work. The intake team has really been my family. The pastors that work with our company and the leadership of the company have all supported me.

After I was hired full-time I needed to find my own apartment. I prayed, “God please let us find a decent place to live and be able to make it financially.” One day I looked at Craigslist for a place to live, and the first place was so pretty and I thought, “That is so nice, but with my background there is no way they will let me rent there.” My boss went to look at it with me and because the landlord knew him I was able to rent it. This was the first place I had ever lived on my own and I found out that my landlord’s mother had the same first and last name as my mother! Not only did I get to live there but all utilities are paid, making it affordable. My landlords are Christians and it has been such a blessing. 

I thank God every day for even the little things—the water in the shower, the electricity in our house, the sunshine, and my job. I love my job as an intake coordinator. I talk to a lot of people every day. Sometimes it is a person’s lawyer or family member,but sometimes the person calls themselves about getting placed in one of our residential treatment programs. I get their information over the phone and help get them out of jail and into treatment. I understand where they have been and can communicate hope to them. Each month we celebrate milestones in recovery for the residents, and when their names are read each month I think how special it is that God let me be a part of their recovery. 

God is a loving God. He cares about the smallest things. He knows us personally. He knows what we need. He has much grace for the mistakes that we make. I am so thankful for my recovery. I was one of those people that people would say would never be clean. It’s true that after you mess up your life, you just feel like there is no way out. But God saved my life and He changed me. I am so thankful that He gave me the opportunity to be a mom again. 

​My daughter is now 6 months old and has been​ an amazing gift. At first I had a hard time accepting the​ gift of a new baby​. But my neighbor said, “Children are a gift from God, and He is not going to give you this gift if He isn’t going to provide a way to take care of her.” This changed how I felt about it. My neighbor was right—God has provided for our every need. 

God restores what has been taken from you. I now have a relationship with my older ​children. My daughter is 20 and my son is 19. It is not a perfect relationship, but God is working this out too. When I took my daughter out recently to eat she said, “I am so glad, Mom, that I get to be here with you.” She has a daughter now, my granddaughter, and she lets me see her and now I get to be a good influence and a good part of her life. When she comes to visit, I take her to church. It is funny how God brings things around. I loved my grandmother. I felt safe around her and found comfort with her. Maybe now I can be that person to my granddaughter.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning .  Lamentations 3:22 – 23 

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.

#154 Steve the Cat

 Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

I had the honor of sharing the devotional last week at a local Emmaus board meeting. It was not my turn, but God laid on my heart the burdens we see each week at our local Mission. Because of this, I am reminded of Steve the cat and his horrific journey to us and to his glorious and miraculous recovery.

I shared from Ecclesiastes 3:1–8, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn…” We had been alerted through our weekly prayer walks that some of our old friends from our days of church ministry had resurfaced in the neighborhood and perhaps as many as 20 are living in one location. By observation, it is obvious that they have fallen victim to those old demons. If we are reading what we are seeing correctly, its heroin, and they are all knee deep in it and it’s heartbreaking.

Steve the cat came to us on a recent Thanksgiving night while we were in New York City for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Our cat wrangler and sitter Mike realized that he had gained a new face and that little Steve was in trouble. You see, Steve had a raging infection in his body leaving him blind, emaciated, and in cardiac distress. He was dehydrated, had lost his ability to stand, and somehow found his way onto our deck through the cat door and found one of our pillowed cat cubbies where he prepared to die. However, like so many times in life, our God is in the little details, nudging us along and allowing us to see where He needs us to be.

When we returned, we scooped little Steve up—all three pounds of him—and headed to the local animal clinic, trying to decide if Steve would make it or if it would become just comfort measures for his last few and sad days. The veterinarian went to work giving Steve liquids and antibiotics and sending us home with a grocery list of do’s and don’ts to try to save our little gift from death. She told us that the outcome and his condition was grim.

This is where God stepped in, because Michael my best friend from grade school mailed a huge box of high fiber, high protein cat food to us after the loss of his cat Buddy, arriving the same week we began Steve’s rehabilitation. Slowly, through the shots, treatments, and food, Steve began to improve. I think we can honestly say that it took six to seven months before my wife and I ever said aloud, “I think Steve is going to make it.”

Isn’t Steve’s story just so God? The metaphor of how it is that we must come to Him broken, dehydrated, emaciated, and preparing to die so that the God of the universe will step in and begin our own journey of restoration, hope, and redemption. That choice is ours because He is waiting, praying that our face will turn to Him. We have a saying around our ministry: “You have to be sick and tired of being sick and tired,” and we have seen God meet person after person right in the midst of their death march when they finally become sick and tired.

I closed our devotion time with the first line of Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” So for us, our season and our time is now, intentionally Jericho-prayer-walking the house of our 20 old friends and verbalizing the joy of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the good news that He is there with us, just waiting for these young kids caught up in the demons of Satan to be sick and tired of being sick and tired.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

We celebrated our second anniversary this past Thanksgiving with Steve the cat. He is healthy and vibrant, and although he will never regain his sight, he is just one of the guys around the house. He has been known to chase his sisters through every room and across the entire length of the house. Steve gets into swatting matches with his brothers and thankfully allows us to sleep on one side of the bed as long as we do not bother him in his position lying sideways in the middle.

God is in the details, indeed.

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.

#153 Mission Focused

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

I grew up in a conservative home and decided to attend a small Christian college because of its conservative values rather than its faith-based mission. I was accepted to law school after college, but before I began, I learned that my mother had terminal lung cancer. My mother insisted that I not delay my law education and I complied with her wishes. My mother died the week of my second semester law school final exams. I was 23 years old and not ready to lose her. I coped by drinking too much, and this became a way of life for me. I graduated law school, passed the bar exam, and became a prosecuting attorney, all while drinking excessively. I was an alcoholic, drinking my paycheck each week and sometimes missing work because of drinking binges. 

On December 11, 2006, the court bailiff came into my office, shared the gospel of Christ, and led me to the Lord at my desk. Everything changed after that. I have been sober since that day. The gentleman who led me to Christ was also a pastor, and I began attending his church. He had been an alcoholic too and knew what it was like. He was a tremendous support to me and carried me through. A few months later I met the woman who would become my wife.

In 2008, I resigned as county prosecutor and started a non-profit organization to help other people with drug and alcohol addictions. I began by simply connecting those who needed help with treatment programs. This was a needed service in our region, as we live in one of the worst areas of the country for drug abuse. I felt God was calling me to do more, specifically to open a Christian addiction recovery center. There were some major roadblocks to overcome before this could happen. Our biggest problem was finding a suitable place for the recovery center. We had worked on several buildings to get them ready to become the center but couldn’t get any approved because none met the requirements for a residential treatment facility. We had been working for almost two years to open a center with no traction, and finally I realized that there was a house that I had previously leased that might be the building. I had leased the house with a purchase option because of something I had experienced in prayer. I had felt God telling me the building was to become a house of prayer. So, I leased it thinking someday it might become a place for prayer retreats. I never anticipated it might become our recovery center. I asked the fire marshal to do the inspection on the house and he said, “Finally, you are going to open your center!” The house had been a bed and breakfast and had been grandfathered into the building code. Within two months we were open as a Christian residential drug treatment center. And today the house is definitely a house of prayer. 

There was another big hurdle. Money. I had no income and we had a new baby. It had become difficult to even buy diapers. We just couldn’t keep it up with no money coming in. Then I met a Christian businessman and he told me that God would provide if this was His will. One morning in 2011, I woke up at 5 a.m. and went to pray. What I heard in my prayer was that I was approaching things the wrong way. I was approaching drug treatment like a church would, but instead I needed to learn from secular addiction treatment programs. I researched different secular drug treatment programs around the country for a place that most resembled the people and problems in our area, and then with a leap of faith, I spent all our money to hire someone from the addiction treatment industry in Florida as a consultant. Very quickly she showed us that we could be reimbursed from insurance and Medicaid for the care we were providing. This was a game changer and provided the income that we needed to not only continue providing care but to expand.

We now have nine residential Christian addiction treatment centers and four outpatient centers throughout the state. We recently opened an addiction treatment center for pregnant women. Our board wasn’t sure if the time was right to do this, but I felt strongly God leading us to move forward. There was a home for sale in our community that seemed the right size and layout for the maternity center. I had a good feeling about it when we arrived to look at it. The former owners had moved out and nothing remained except a plaster statue of Jesus holding a child in His arms on the front porch. We purchased the home and it now serves as a beautiful place of community where pregnant women and their newborn babies can receive the love and help they need. After purchasing, we learned the home had belonged to a Christian obstetrician. We kept the statue of Jesus holding the child and it is now in the entryway of the home as a reminder to all who enter of Jesus’ love and care for His children.

We have been mission focused from the beginning, and this is still a big part of what we do. We provide pastoral counselors and chaplains and help those going through our program to discover God’s love and grace. The chaplain at the first center we opened is the gentleman who led me to Christ in my office in 2006. The faith-based part of our program doesn’t replace clinical treatment. It comes alongside it. Our model of care is a holistic approach, including spiritual (soul), clinical (mind), medical (body), and vocational (purpose).

Our model is to combine job training and residential treatment in a faith-based environment, and this has been very successful. Every person who completes our recovery program has the opportunity to participate in our staff internship program in which they are guaranteed a job with us at their one-year clean mark. We now employ 200 people at an average pay of $37,500 with benefits, and 70 of those employees are graduates of our own treatment programs!

Each day I continue to seek God’s guidance, wisdom, and provision. I pray often and write down prayers and what I sense as God’s leading throughout the day. When our steering committee meets, we begin with praise and worship music, prayer, and a short message. After this, I share ​what God has given me in prayer. Often, we step out in faith and make business decisions simply because we believe that God is leading us to do something and we trust that He will provide. And He has. God has held us together in difficult financial times. The Lord always comes through just in time. 

One day a month we close the doors at every office at the company. We gather for Convocation, which is a time the whole company, including residents in our treatment programs, comes together to worship corporately. The residents sing and share testimonies. It is very powerful . . . the best day of our month. No business is conducted on that day. It’s when we ge​t out of the way so that God can go behind us to fix our messes. God has the whole company to Himself that day. God is definitely at the stern of this ship. He continues to lead us, provide for us, restore us, and love us.

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.

#152 Getting Kicked Out Saved My Life

 Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

I came from a good home. My dad was a coal miner and my mom worked in the school system. I was in church every time it was open. My experience with religion was one of rigidity, based on the list of things you do and don’t do. My understanding of God was that He was nothing more than a task master who was recording my rights and wrongs and keeping score, expecting perfection. I’m not sure I was taught this, but that is the way I interpreted it. The people in that religious system weren’t malicious, they were just doing what they thought was right.

In high school I played basketball, made good grades, and was valedictorian of my senior class.  I am inquisitive by nature and asked a ton of questions about religion—questions my parents and my church were not comfortable hearing and answering. The gist of their answers was “You just need to believe.” Because questions were not welcomed, I developed a level of skepticism. I was also bullied in school which created a sense of not being sure of my identity and self-worth. I started using marijuana my junior year of high school for two reasons, really—to fill a void because a relationship with God wasn’t a part of my life, and also because it impressed a certain crowd and I wanted to fit in. 

The first time I smoked marijuana, a switch flipped and I was immediately psychologically obsessed with getting high and changing my mental state. I wasn’t physically addicted yet, but psychologically the addiction was unleashed the first time I tried it. I do have a history of addiction in my extended family, so I may have been genetically predisposed for addiction. 

I had a scholarship to go to college. The only career options that I understood for my life in 1997 were to become a doctor or lawyer. I was only the second person from my family to go to college and I didn’t perceive a big buffet of options. I didn’t like history, so that seemed to eliminate law. I decided to go the pre-med route.

My first night on campus I tried alcohol for the first time. I loved it just as much as marijuana from the first drink.  By the end of the semester, I had experimented and fallen in love with every drug available in the area. Somehow, I was still making good grades. A friend from my hometown that grew up going to the same church as I did was at college with me and he also had a lot of questions about God and religion. He had a philosophy class and we started meeting with the professor. He was the first person who had an educated and non-confrontational conversation with us about our questions about God and religion. He identified as atheist/agnostic and I began to identify that way as well. Things started changing in my life. I continued to fill the void with drugs, alcohol, and women, and at some point, I began using prescription medication daily. I began to use OxyContin, as this was a new drug introduced in our area.

It became apparent that I would have to stop my lifestyle in order to pass organic chemistry, so I decided to choose a career that didn’t require organic chemistry. Medical school required organic chemistry but physical therapy did not. I got accepted into physical therapy school. While I was there I was a full-blown prescription medication addict and alcoholic. I graduated from physical therapy school in the top 25% of my class. I moved back home to start working as a physical therapist. I was making good money and the addiction went into overdrive because I had more money. I got married in 2005–2006 but it didn’t last long. In less than three years we were divorced. I lost my house to foreclosure and lost two cars. I was living in a house with no running water, no electricity, and five to six people staying the night—it was a drug den. But I continued to work as a physical therapist.  Eventually, I was living in my car, making $107,000 a year with barely enough money to get gas to get to work. I ended up moving home with my parents to try to get some stability. They didn’t fully understand what was going on with me but knew there was a problem. 

During this time, I met the woman who is my wife today. We married in 2011. I didn’t tell her about my past and she didn’t know about my drug problem. She just knew I used to be wild. About two years into the marriage, I stopped caring about everything. Anything that wasn’t nailed down would be at the pawn shop for drug money. Finally, my wife said, “I love you but you’ve got to go. You can’t stay here. I can’t help you anymore.” This was the day that she showed me the most love. I was sick and tired of living the life I was living. I constantly thought about killing myself. When my wife said, “You’ve got to leave,” I was actually relieved because it freed me to go get help. I went to my parents and they got me connected to a Christian addiction recovery residential home and when I walked in (still an atheist/agnostic) the people who were Christians weren’t judging my mistakes. They told me they loved me and they were glad I was there and that God had a purpose for my life. This was a new way of thinking about God for me. One of the pastors at the home taught us what prayer was. Up until then I understood prayer to be not much more than a list to Santa Claus. The day he taught me that prayer was two-way communication between the one praying and God, I was immediately frustrated that no one had ever told me this. I was baptized two to three weeks into treatment. My wife began to visit me at the treatment facility. The first Sunday I was in treatment she went to church and asked God for guidance about how to handle it—specifically if she should she stay married to me. In the message that Sunday the preacher talked only about forgiveness, especially about forgiving people who do not deserve it. She decided to give me a chance.

Even though I had my license to practice physical therapy, I decided that God was calling me to stay at the addiction recovery center and be on staff. After I successfully completed the treatment program, I followed God’s calling, and left a six-figure income to become an intern with the addiction recovery center for $75 per week. My pay for two weeks after taxes was $137. I brought the first check home and gave it to my wife and said, “I don’t care what we do with this, but $15 of this is going to a tithe!”

Miracle after miracle occurred to get us through the nine-month internship financially. Every random dollar that came, I attributed to God. When I reached the one-year clean and sober mark, I met with the CEO of the treatment program and he offered me a position at the corporate office. My wife and I prayed about it and I accepted that position as his deputy chief of staff. His chief of staff had had some health problems and wanted to spend more time at home. Within six months, through a series of supernatural events that I can’t really explain, I became the chief of staff of an organization with over 200 employees. I still serve in this positon and just celebrated three and half years of being clean and sober. 

Recently, my wife and I felt called to leave our home church, even though there was no problem. We told our pastor and asked him to pray for us. I felt like I was called to lead a new church but resisted it. My wife and I met with some families who also felt they were to do something different regarding church. We continued to meet each week just that small group of people, then opened to the public as a new church a few months ago. We are trying to let the love of God flow through us onto others. Public speaking was one of my greatest fears. In the past I would have been terrified and paralyzed in front of a crowd, but now God has helped me to get comfortable with speaking. We meet at a locally owned coffee shop downtown. We purchased a baptismal trough and have already had some baptisms which have occurred in the trough on the sidewalk in our little town. We are seeing God work in wonderful ways in the new church.

My wife is a fifth-grade teacher and she has children in class that have difficulties because of the drugs in their families. She uses what she has experienced with my addiction to help her students. She speaks from a place of deep understanding, empathy, and compassion, and students respond positively to her when they don’t respond well to others. 

I have hurt a lot of people and made a lot of bad decisions, but God is using it for good. I have learned about who God really is—that He is not the task master that I thought He was. I have discovered that He is a loving Father who sees us as His sons and daughters and He has a purpose and a plan for our lives. I am thankful for my wife and my family and for second, third, and fourth chances. I am thankful that God led me to a Christian addiction recovery center, a place that allowed me to encounter His true nature. I am most thankful that God is good and that He forgives. He has wiped away my shame and regret.

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.