Redemption

Jailed Twice Before I was 18 for Selling Drugs

I grew up in an alcoholic family. Both my father and my mother came from alcoholic homes as well. I lost a brother to a drunk driving accident. He was 24. Because I grew up in such a very chaotic home, I was running the streets from an early age.

I had my first drinking experience was when I was just twelve years old. I was "turned on" to pot at age fourteen, and went to jail twice for selling marijuana, hashish, and LSD, before I was eighteen years old.

My life began to unravel. God used "the law" to get my attention. It looked like I would be "busted" for selling drugs for a third time. The fear of a long prison sentence finally brought me to the end of myself. I became so desperate that I started listening to those "Jesus freak" friends of mine. Anybody remember Jesus freaks? They were former hippies who came to know Christ. As far as I was concerned, they were really kind of spooky people who floated around and were all "smiley" and they weren't doing any dope. Although I could not figure out what they had in their lives, I just knew I needed it, too.

I visited a friend I had known in the "drug scene" who had become saved. He was living in a Christian "commune" in Chicago. While there, he explained how I could know Christ, myself. I had a tremendous spiritual experience when I prayed with him to surrender my life to the Lord. Yet, once I returned to my home in Upper Michigan, I struggled for a year and a half to quit using drugs.

I Realized I was No Longer in Control

My name is Michael, and I am an alcoholic. I have been sober for over 15 years now. I once said this: "Almost from day one I was scared and I have been scared ever since." That is not true anymore. Yes, I do have fear, but I know, in Jesus name, where that fear comes from and how to handle it. Knowing this is a miracle. I once hid behind alcohol and other things in order to avoid the fear.

I came out of hiding when I sobered up and boy was I scared. All I could do then in my early sober life, as I do now, is to give that fear over to Jesus. It hurt horribly, and often still does…to have that kind of fear and insecurity and lack of faith in myself. Coming out of hiding was the hardest thing I ever did. It hurt like hell, and it was very scary. But I have handled things better and better now for over 1,923 sober days. It hasn't been easy, but then is life ever easy?

I bought into this with my Lord Jesus on the morning of October 22, 1994. I was sitting on a bench in front of Rizzoli's book shop in Williamsburg, Virginia. The family was out and about in the stores. In Rizzoli's I had just perused through a biography of Jack Kerouac, the famous author of "On The Road", which was a defining book of my teenage years. I remember when Kerouac died up in Massachusetts when I was a graduate student there. All of the pictures recording his life, particularly the later ones, showed Jack with a bright gleam in his eye. He was a major drinker. He did not get past 50. He bled to death from his esophagus. The actor Peter Lawford bought it that way too.

God Worked Powerfully in My Life

In the late sixties, long before I committed to follow the Lord, God delivered me from an intense IV Meth addiction. There were no withdrawal symptoms of any kind, I simply stopped.

In the mid-seventies, I lived in a hippie-type community in Pennsylvania. I smoked as many packs of cigarettes a day as I could get my hands on. Filtered or non-filtered, it didn't matter. When I ran out of cigarettes, I rolled my own with Blue Bugler, the cheapest package tobacco you could by at that time. I looked physically fit, but every morning, I woke up congested with phlegm and I could not walk up a flight of stairs without stopping several times to catch my breath.

One day, while I cleaned a bushel of cherries, a friend stopped by and left an unopened, fresh pack of Pall Malls on the table. Normally, I would consider this like found money, a rare and glorious event. But for no obvious reason, I had no desire to smoke and never opened the pack. After that day even the smell of tobacco was revolting to me. I remained baffled by this dramatic release that was not achieved through any effort on my part. However, I continued to smoke pot.

A few years later, we settled down in New Jersey. My husband worked hard at two jobs and I worked for an airline. We had a new house, bought a new car and both daughters attended a good school. We traveled often and stayed at the best hotels, all practically for free, because of my job benefits. But in fact, I drank too much, smoked dope and struggled with my inability to stop.

Lisa and Gambling

Addiction is a powerful bondage that binds us to the sins of the world. It is an evil spirit that is sent by Satan into our lives to deceive us and destroy our lives ever so slowly. It is like a long, long line that he has hooked us with and is ever so slowly reeling us closer and closer. When you get close enough he has you in his grasp forever. All the fun that you thought you were having along the way is over and you live a life of hell.

Some people choose to commit suicide as they begin to feel the pain of his hook pulling and tugging them in. They kill themselves to try and escape the destruction that they feel in their lives. Little do they know that by pulling the trigger or popping the pills that they are caught for everlasting eternity and cast into hell. Satan smiles as he puts another soul into his net.

There are many types of bondage's or addictions in the world that Satan tries to hook us with: alcohol, drugs, sex, and gambling are some of the big ones. No matter what your addiction is, no matter how long you've been bound to it, it is not too late to get released and free from it. Don't let Satan reel you in any closer! Break free from that line and get away while you can! But you ask, "How?" How do you free yourself? Let me tell you. You cannot do it by yourself. You have to have help. You have to ask for help and then be willing to receive your rescue.

I was a gambler. That was my bondage. I was very addicted to the game. Horse races, casino's, the lottery, etc.

From Alcohol and Drugs to Jesus

At the age of 26 I became independent for the first time. That is when I started to abuse alcohol and drugs. Then in July my mother passed away. This was devastating for me and I was unable to cope with her death. I started go to the bars and hanging around with the wrong crowd. I did everything I could to make these people like me in order to try and fill the void that I was feeling. I even gave them money and so that they could use it to support there addiction while I was still supporting my own addiction. I let them use me so they would be my friends.

During these times I was drinking constantly and doing drugs which made me extremely suicidal. I started getting in trouble with the law because of the alcohol and drugs. I was also in and out of the hospital because I was drunk all the time and suicidal. There where many times I woke up and don't know how I got to where I was. In 1989 I started going in and out of the alcoholics anonymous program. Over time I tried many different recovery homes, but I always left the program. I was never ready to give up my addiction so none of these programs worked for me.

Living a Double Standard

My feelings of guilt and shame towards a same-sex attraction began at an early age. I experienced frequent sexual abuse from an older male friend during most of my teen years, and hustling for money soon followed.

Years later, I was baptized in a Mennonite Brethren church as a public declaration that I would follow Christ. My secret desire was that maybe now my attraction and sexual fantasies towards men would disappear. They didn't, and the fantasies soon turned into years of acting out behaviours.

I attended several MB churches in different provinces over the years, all the while living a double standard. I became addicted to cruising public places that were well-known to the gay community as places where homosexuals could meet for anonymous sex – a behaviour very typical of this community. Frequenting gay bars was a given.

Life in the gay community has been tumultuous and everything but a happy time. I would be in the arms of a lover on Saturday night and then actively participate in a worship service on Sunday morning. My life was such a lie – a secret I was able to maintain for many years.

I Moved Away from "Remaining in Him"

It all happened so quickly. I moved away from the "remaining in Him" part. Yes, I still believed that Jesus is the Son of God. It was the part about "doing as He says" that had become difficult. I chose to become detached from the Vine, and I shut myself off from friends, family, community and church.

After several weeks in this social vacuum, I knew something was not right inside. Feelings of abandonment and rejection began to trigger pain. My life spiraled into a hell of drugs, booze and sex. I started thinking about death. Part of me wanted to just call it quits, but another part knew that I had come too far to give up.

Then the songs started coming back. One of the songs was, "Love Lifted Me". The tears flowed as I repeatedly spoke the words. I was so thankful I had learned this song as a child so that now, years later, I could be blessed by it. When nothing else could help, the unfailing love of God kept lifting me. In faith, I repented of my sins and asked God to help me find the centre once again. I thanked Him for the close friends that I could reach out to.

I Prayed that God Would Get Out of My Life!

My name is Kelly. Here is something that happened to me that I hope blesses you....

In 1984 after struggling for years with pornography and masturbation, I was a youth pastor in the Midwest. Working for my brother the pastor. I fought and fought with my thoughts and finally went out in my car and purchased porn. Felt horrible and tired. I was so frustrated. I tried and tried to live a clean life and just failed over and over again.

"Damn, what is the point?" I asked myself. I then sat there alone in my room and calmly prayed a new prayer to God. This was a prayer that I've never prayed. I prayed that He would get out of my life. I prayed that I would not be a Christian any more. I prayed and boldly asked the Holy Spirit to leave.

Then I sat there alone in my room feeling even more alone. The desire for porn was gone and it felt that God was gone too. I didn't feel guilty but I did feel very alone.

Day after day I walked in an Oak grove talking with God. I didn't feel like a Christian anymore and it was a weird experience talking to him outside of the "family".

John G.: Porn and Jail

Psalm 40:3
The Lord has really put a new song in my heart.......A song of praise and thanksgiving. It hasn't always been like that in my life, for my life was anything but peaceful. I was living a secret life although it wasn't a secret from God. What I was involved in wasn't pretty. I had an addiction to pornography, which took me down a path of destruction.

My addiction was rooted in childhood abuse. A banker, a lawyer, and a minister sexually abused me. I never told anyone about the abuse because I thought that nobody would believe me. I did tell my mother however; she took the secret to her grave. I thought if I joined the service that the abuse would stop. Unfortunately, that was not the case and the sexual abuse continued.
In 1952, I went to Germany in the Army. I heard an evangelist from the Billy Graham Crusade and decided to accept Jesus Christ as my savior. I began singing in the choir and my life seemed to be healing. I was discharged in 1953, and spent some time in Washington state and Oregon.

However; due to lack of direction in my life after discharge, I re-enlisted in the Army in hopes of returning tp Germany. But my plans did not work out like I had planned. In 1954, I was transferred to Ft. Belvoir. I quickly discovered that I was only 20 minutes from Washington D.C. where there were adult book and video stores on every block. Easy access to pornography created an uncontrollable addiction. I was disturbed by my behavior and felt sorry, but not sorry enough to stop.

Jody: "I was broken by Crack"

I came to God a broken person. I was terribly addicted to crack cocaine. I had lived ten years with the guilt and pain I was causing my family and myself.

I was raised to believe in God, but I didn't know how He could help me, or that He would want to. I had never learned that Jesus died so I wouldn't have to live in the misery of my past. The more I learned about Jesus the more I realized how much He loves us and wants to help us.

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