After my dad died I got much more involved in drug, alcohol abuse, and sex. I started experimenting with other drugs. One thing led to another, and I got together with a friend who had a connection with a drug cartel in Atlanta, GA. I was moving around twenty, thirty, sometimes forty pounds of marijuana a month. I was eighteen years old. I had money. I had friends. I had drugs. To say the least, I was very popular, but deep inside I was still angry. I was still lonely.
One day I was making a drug delivery, and I noticed that my buddy wasn’t at the meeting point. As I was making a U-turn back toward the highway, four police cars surrounded me. I found myself alone in a federal prison cell in a little town called Oakdale, Louisiana. It was there by myself that I started complaining to God. I started praying. I said, “God, why, why, why? Why is this happening to me? Why is this happening to my life, my family?” God said, “I love you. I love you.” All I could feel and all I could hear him saying was, “I love you.”
I joined a prison choir and started going to Bible studies, little cell groups within the prison. I didn’t consider myself a faithful Christian, but I could feel that Jesus was there with me. A year after I was released from prison I met the girl I married. We joined a church, and after a while, I became a youth leader, but I was still dealing with the death of my father, and I was still drinking.
My father, a pastor, was diagnosed with cancer, so I was a preacher’s kid. Everything I knew about God – a God of love, a God of compassion, merciful - It was all a lie for me. I felt that I was being tricked because why would a God like that take my dad? I was living a double life. I was a Christian on Wednesdays and Sundays. Sometimes I would lead groups at church, but then during the week, I would get drunk.
At the worst days of our marriage, I had lost my job because of drinking. I had gotten a DUI. We were three months behind on our mortgage payment. Then we found out my wife was pregnant. I had to make a choice: leave my wife and everything that God had given me and go with the alcohol, or leave the alcohol and trust the Lord. I had to kneel down and repent. I prayed, “Lord, I’m sorry. I feel like I let you down, but I’m going to follow you.”
I have now joined a group at North Cleveland Church of God (Cleveland, TN) for recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. I found a mentor that helped through the steps that I had to go through. The Lord took one man out of my life, but He returned two. I have two sons. I have a family now. I am a restaurant owner. I’m a group leader of a substance abuse group called Celebrate Recovery. I can take my life experiences to help other people. I can let them know there is hope, that God is real. He loves you.