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Celebrate Recovery

My Choices Led Me to Jail, God, and Celebrate Recovery

Testimony of Change

I’m a follower of Jesus Christ who struggles with addiction and self-control. My name is David.

I recall receiving affection and attention as a child, attending church with my folks, and going to the racetrack with my dad, who was a jockey for 14 years. My mother was loving and giving with everyone she encountered. But my parents also struggled greatly.

As a boy I tried to fit in with others while battling a sense of feeling “less than” others. But I thrived as a wrestler and was academically successful. I was fairly industrious working after-school jobs. By high school, I felt alienated from the church.

During college, hard drugs were everywhere and took a toll on others and me. It was so easy to delude myself into thinking that I was only hurting myself. People were wrecking their cars, their marriages, and going to jail. Two kids died from heroin overdoses at my house. I came to hate heroin and what it did to people. Yet there I was using other substances.

I had played music professionally, but my focus shifted as I became involved with people who had been exiled from Iran during its Islamic Revolution and were smuggling high-grade heroin from there. Meanwhile, I had little concept of what it meant to be committed and became unfaithful to my wife — a woman who deserved better. I was doing so much cocaine that I had become nervous, paranoid, and even somewhat schizophrenic. Someone suggested I try “speedballs” — cocaine and heroin together. It took away some of my nervousness. I discovered months later I had a major heroin addiction. The very thing I had once despised had now become my master.

I tried so many times to kick the habit but failed. I decided I was going to rob banks to support my habit. Ultimately, the FBI arrested me, and I was hauled off in front of my parents and my son.

Yet I feel this is the way God had to rescue me. I am thankful to God that nobody got physically hurt or killed. I shudder to think of how things could have easily gone wrong. I faced years in prison with federal and state charges. I didn’t realize how blessed I was being around guys doing 55 or 60 years telling the same stories of relapse and re-offense, then release, then relapse and re-offense. Seeds were being planted in my heart as people were lifting me up in prayer and as some of my family members were coming to Christ.

In prison I played with various prison bands. When outside groups would come to chapel, the chaplain would ask us to play a few gospel numbers. It was providential one day that I was in chapel and the fellow bringing the message was “telling my story.”

I was saved that day. However, I continued to carry a lot of garbage in my head and in my heart. It took a decade before the enormity of the task of cleaning the garbage out was realized.

After four years in prison, I began a new career in construction. I started leading worship at a small church, visiting jails, and returning to school. But because of all my time rehearsing and preparing, my family suffered neglect — I was too busy doing “church work.”

Our marriage was headed for an emotional wreck. My answer to the pain was a return to heroin. Ten years of being clean went by the wayside. Looking back, I clearly see how I lacked the recovery tools and didn’t reach out to a support system.

The next several years took me through relapse, in and out of rehabs, more programs, and relocation. Finally, I recommitted my life to God and moved to Oklahoma in 2002, where family members had also moved. I found a church home and became involved in study, worship, and giving back. I traded in religion for relationship. I found grace and forgiveness.

In early 2008, I went to Celebrate Recovery, ostensibly to become involved once again in prison ministry to fix “them.” However, God, in his infinite wisdom, used CR and the inventory process to reveal the character defects that caused me to stumble. My using, cheating, and deceiving were symptoms of deeper issues. Today, I am so grateful to be 17 years drug-free. I have made progress in my underlying issues of selfishness, pride, and lack of commitment. At the same time, I know that I will be a work in progress until Jesus returns.

I’m learning not to try to do it on my own anymore. I’m learning that I need God’s help and his guidance. I can reach out to him, to my sponsor, and to a community of believers.

God has blessed me with opportunities to serve and to teach. I was honored and blessed to serve as the Eastern Oklahoma State Rep for CR Inside and the national editor for the Celebrate Recovery Inside Newsletter for four years. I worked with regional editors around the country reaching out to the incarcerated, their families, and the volunteers who serve selflessly. Through CR, I have experienced the joy of serving and the value of discipleship.

If you’re new to CR, you’ll discover the leaders are vulnerable and fallible — people with struggles just like the rest of us. Yet they are obedient to God’s calling while demonstrating the type of leadership Jesus modeled, that of a servant-leader.

Each of us has a wonderful story to tell. Please don’t let Satan discourage you from telling your story. In CR, you’ll find authentic relationships and a safe place. Thank you.

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