Reflecting upon my past. From drug addiction to Pastoral ministry.

I was told the best way to get over my fears of perfection and details is to just jump in and start producing content.  So that is what I will be doing over the next few days.  If you’ve followed me on Twitter for a while, you might have seen some of my posts about wanting to start writing and producing videos, but not being able to get going with those.  After praying and seeking help, I figured now is the time to simply move forward and not be so consumed with minor details and how everything looks.

With that being said, brother Rob posted on Twitter earlier today a link to his testimony.  It got me thinking and I figured I would share a small peek inside my journey.  And I am certainly leaving out a lot of my story, but I wanted to share this because I want others to know why I am so passionate about Scripture.

My road to Christ was paved with addiction and homelessness.  I was not raised in the church, but attended on various occasions.  I was not against Christ, I simply did not see any reason to follow Him or give up my life of sin.  I was living in sin, I was dead in sin, and I was enjoying my sin…But God…

The journey continues for many years.  Living with various drug addictions.  Struggling to get over them.  Moving locations.  New scenery.  Tried everything.  I would have a few months clean from drugs and then I would start back over again.  Never could get anything to stick….But God…

Fast forward to 2013.  I decided that I had enough of the life of addiction.  I confessed what I was doing and entered a rehab program about 7 hours away.

I lasted one week before I left…

I ended up going to the hospital to get checked out for a few things and it was through this hospital that God showed up and began to draw me in.  I was 7 hours away from home, homeless, without food and money.  The nurses at this hospital decided they would help me out.  They contacted a local ministry that provided help and they were able to get me a hotel room for the night with the hope of getting me a bus ticket to go back home.  I left that hospital that Sunday evening and was dropped off by a taxi at a local hotel.  I spent the evening hours reflecting on all the events that have happened in my life to get me to this point.  The decisions I made.  The life of sin that I loved so much.  Here I was, without anything.  God decided it was time.

Let me clarify something before I speak about this next part.  I am not claiming to have received a word from the Lord, nor am I claiming to have heard the voice of God speak directly to me.  That is NOT what happened.  But I do know through that hotel room, being broken and alone, I finally felt the peace of God.  I had confessed that I wanted to follow Christ and give up my life of sin.  He answered.  As I sat there and read through Scripture, I couldn’t stop thinking that I needed to come back to Youngstown and that there was a specific reason for me coming back.  The feeling would not stop.  The peace kept increasing.  I knew Jesus was leading me to go back, but I wasn’t sure why.

On Tuesday evening, I boarded a greyhound bus, heading back to Youngstown, with one destination in mind.  At this point, my parents told me they were not willing to help me.  I had no friends.  No other family member willing to take me in.  I was homeless.  I had no idea what to do, until I was told about the Rescue Mission.  I’ve driven by the building numerous times, but I knew nothing about it.  I knew they provided a bed and food.  So as I left West Virginia, I wasn’t sure what was waiting for me, but I knew I was headed to the Mission.

As I entered the Mission, I was greeted by the staff and brought back to one of the office to do my intake.  Another staff member brought me into a Bible study class after my intake was done and I was introduced to guys in the Academy.  As the day went on, I met with these guys, they told me about their story and I remember how similar it was to mine.  They suggested I join this Academy and commit my life to Christ.  The next day, I signed up.  Little did I know how much my life was going to change from that day forward.

I graduated from the Academy in June of 2014 and started working for the Mission.  I was brought on as a staff member, and since then, have become Vice President of Support Services, overseeing the day to day operations of the same building I came in as a client.  God is unbelievable and His grace is amazing.  At any point of my life, He could have given up on me, allowed something devastating to happen, but He never did.  He was using all of these situations that I thought were so horrible for my good, knowing one day I would finally meet Him in a homeless shelter in Youngstown, Ohio.

As I reflect upon these past 5 years, I have so much to be thankful for.  My beautiful and amazing wife, who I met when I was homeless.  Shes my best friend and is way out of my league.  But she knew when I was just beginning my journey that God was at work in me and she stuck by my side.  I am a Pastor, the very calling I wanted to so badly after I became a Christian.  I am a student at Midwestern Baptist, growing in my knowledge and love of Christ.

But most importantly, I am a follower of Christ.  I am a wretched, redeemed, sinner, who was plucked out of darkness and brought into His marvelous light.  And I did nothing to earn it.  I did nothing to deserve it.  I still don’t deserve it, but God…God considers me worthy…

“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:11

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