In His Own Words: A Man Transformed
This week, we’re sharing one Oregon man’s story of how God brought him out of extreme violence and addiction from a young age to new, vibrant life in Christ. These are his own words, as interviewed by the pastor who never gave up on him.
“Tell me about your life prior to Christ.”
Where to even begin? I was a child when I had my first experience with drugs and violence. My dad would have my twin brother and me help tie him off in the morning and he’d shoot heroin and then nod out.
Before we were 10 years old, we watched him take a man’s life—for two bags of pop cans. Then we went and got candy and sat at the pub in the owner’s office all day while he drank, as if nothing had happened.
Soon I got into drugs and alcohol myself. When I was 11, I was stabbed for the first time—and stabbed someone in return.
I was hospitalized later after I overdosed on mushrooms. When I recovered, I was taken straight from there to lock up. For the next five years I was off and on probation as a juvenile. I remember the last time that I went in front of the judge, it was for a pretty serious offense—attempted murder—after I tried to stab a guy who jumped me at school.
The judge asked me, “Did you do it?”
I said, “Absolutely.”
“Do you regret it?”
“No, I don’t.”
“If you could go back and change it, would you?”
“Yes, I would. I would beat on him longer.”
She deemed that the community was not safe with me in it and so I was removed from it for 17 months. The truth is I got used to being in there. I actually felt better in jail, because it was just an animal factory. And that’s where I thrived.
“How did you end up at church?”
The first time I went to youth group with my brother, I pulled a knife out on the leader—you—and the police got called in. They told you guys not to ever let us come back—that we were just as violent as any grown man.
Up until that time, we had known no kind of love that was for the purpose of loving us. There was always a reason or a purpose or something on the back end. There was always somebody that they wanted us to go hurt or go do this to somebody or go do that. It was never just because they wanted to see us have happiness or joy.
But you did let us come back. We had to have a talk, of course; I do remember that. And that’s where God really started showing Himself on our behalf. But because we’d been abused horribly, our view of love was so skewed, and so it was almost too much to process. There was no rational reason behind someone loving you.
I remember eventually running away from the youth group because love was just more than I could handle. It was overwhelming. So I returned to doing things my own way.The first time I went to youth group with my brother, I pulled a knife out on the leader.Click To Tweet
“What was the fork in the road?”
I lost my twin brother in 2004, in our 20s. He had gotten back into drugs and alcohol, and one day he shot himself. After he died, I got into methamphetamines pretty heavy. It still boggles my mind that I ran to that—the one thing that ultimately was part of his destruction. But in the midst of my pain and suffering, I ran to that to try to cover it up.
During this time, a situation happened where a man said that he wanted to abuse my young son. After I heard him say it, I made the decision to take his life.
I set up a party at my house and planned a dry run to see if I could get out, go kill him, and get back with nobody noticing I’d been gone. I slipped out while everyone was over and I just remember standing outside his window, looking inside his apartment, and getting excited about killing him. I knew my plan could work.
On my way back to the party, I crossed the main street and slowed down. The gravity was hitting me. In my mind I just said, Okay, Lord, this is it. If you’re real, you’ve got to show me.
Literally the moment after I thought that, I heard somebody yell my name from across the street, but I couldn’t see anyone. All I could think was somebody had just seen me on my dry run.
A few days after that, I got in a fight with my wife. I had a bunch of drugs on me that she slapped out of my hands just before someone came to the door. It was you. In the chaos, I remember you had to open my door with a butter knife, but I had too much respect for you to take off. So I sat there and listened.
Then you said, “Hey, you know what? I saw you the other night. You were moving pretty quick across that street. I called out your name.”
Shocked, I lay back on my bed, shaking my head. “Okay, I’m in,” I said. “I don’t know how this is going to work out. But I called upon God and He showed me that He’s real. There are zero coincidences in this; it was maybe one second between me praying that and you calling out my name.”
That night, crossing the street on my dry run for murder, is ultimately what led me to my salvation.
I wish I could say that was a clean turning point and I never looked back. I did serve for a couple of years. And then I ran pretty hard back into methamphetamines. The pull of the addiction seemed to get worse after I got saved, because then the enemy upped his attack.
I made so many bad choices during that time and found myself separated from my family. Finally, I said, “Okay, God, this is it. I’m totally submitting to what Your will is for my life.”That night, crossing the street on my dry run for murder, is ultimately what led me to my salvation.Click To Tweet
Now I’m sitting here as proof of what God can truly do in someone’s life because I take zero credit. I know what I’m capable of: extreme violence and heavy drug use. That’s all I ever knew. But that stuff isn’t even a thought in my mind anymore. God absolutely saved my life. And I’m thankful that you were an integral part of it.
I think back to how I used to be; when people would pull out guns, I’d run toward them. I’m here today for a reason. God truly uses all things together for His good, and I’m so thankful for that.
“What does God have you doing now?”
He’s put on my heart to reach out to those in need—to reach out to the outcasts, really, because I was the outcast.
I go downtown to the mission, the water, the skate park, and different areas of town that are known for heavy drug use and everything else that might keep someone away from Christ. Sometimes I hand out waters, using that as the opportunity. I remember from when I was on the streets that just a drink of water could mean so much. I would have traded my right arm for water some days.
It has opened up opportunities to be able to pray with men who are hurting and struggling and in need. They’re not used to people coming up to them. God is using those circumstances, giving me the words to bring people to Him and for them to come out of addiction.
I’ve got a couple of friends in recovery programs right now because they were watching me, having known who I was, and saw what God was doing in my life. I give all the credit to God because they’re in programs by choice—they can walk out any time—but they’re now trusting in the Lord and looking to Christ for their strength.
And that’s really what the basis of all my outreach is—it’s Christ and Christ alone. He does the saving, He does the healing, He does the fixing, and He can truly do all things. He’s not limited or constrained by our ways.It's Christ and Christ alone. He does the saving, He does the healing, He does the fixing.Click To Tweet
“How important has God’s Word been in this transformation of your life?”
It’s at the center of it. It has to be, every single day. Being in the Word is how God speaks to us. It’s His love letter to us. He’s given us guidelines for how to live and what will happen.
I get into the Word every morning and throughout the day and just pray, Lord, lead me to exactly what you want me to see and to what I need to be about at this very moment.
I’m always taking personal inventory based on scripture. We can look to Him in this way for our strength and wisdom, and He’ll reveal that on a daily basis.
“When you look to the future, what are you excited about?”
I have one. That’s the biggest thing for me. I have a future; I have a life in Christ.
I’m happier than I’ve ever been my entire life. My desires have changed completely and the way I think has changed. Every aspect of my life is so different. I’m in the church choir and I absolutely love it. I like serving anywhere and everywhere that I can—not because I’m looking to get something out of it, but because I like it.
I never knew that this is how life could be. It keeps me in constant amazement of Christ to go through certain circumstances and see that He’s providing through it all. I’m so thankful for what He saved me from and what He’s done for me. I want serve Him and follow His will for the rest of my life.